Show choirs to battle for boxing belt in Naperville
Show choirs will battle it out at Clash of the Sequins in Naperville
A stage designed to look like a boxing ring and to feel like a major rock concert will be the highlight of the setup for the Clash of the Sequins, which pits show choir against show choir in an all-day fest at Naperville North High School.
The third annual event on Saturday, Feb. 17, is expected to draw between 4,500 and 6,000 people and raise between $20,000 and $70,000 for performing arts as it gives show choirs from four states the chance to shine.
Solo performances and educational clinics will take place throughout the day and throughout the school at 899 Mill St., but the spotlight will shine in the field house, where seating for 5,500 will be available for each main stage show.
"We've really stepped up our game with our aesthetics and feel of the event," said Nicholas Janssen, instructional coordinator of fine arts at Naperville North and director of the school's two show choirs, the all-girls High Heeled Harmony and the coed Entourage, both accompanied by the student musical group Hot Brockets.
"We have a larger spectacle. The venue itself feels much more like a rock concert this year."
A spectacle, indeed. Creatively costumed choral performers, usually called singer-dancers in the world of show choir, will take the stage in three divisions, all aiming to capture a prize completely unrelated to singing -- a weightlifting belt adorned with the Clash of the Sequins logo, called simply "The Belt."
When a group of parents approached Janssen a few years ago wanting to start the school's own show choir competition, he said he was happy to help -- as long as it was more than a fundraiser.
He said he wanted to ensure the experience was a real educational opportunity for singer-dancers and that it gave back to the community outside of just the choirs.
"We spend a lot of time on the student experience, the quality of the venue. We bring in the best judges from all around the country," Janssen said. "As a director with a competitive high school ensemble myself, I look for a high-quality educational experience for students."
Janssen and show choir parents also use some of the proceeds raised from sponsorships, food and drink sales and $15 all-day admission for fans to cover some of the travel and hotel costs for out-of-state choirs.
"We look at the whole Naperville community as a way of giving back to support students from across the country that are less fortunate than our own," he said.
Representing the suburbs among the 20 choirs set to perform are two groups from Waubonsie Valley High School in Aurora and two from John Hersey High School in Arlington Heights, as well as one choir each from Carmel Catholic High School in Mundelein, Oswego High School in Oswego and Dwight D. Eisenhower High School in Blue Island.
Illinois also will be represented by choirs from Peoria and Springfield, while the rest of the competitors come from Indiana, Iowa and Nebraska.
Singer-dancers will compete in three categories: a unisex division, which this year has six all-girls choirs, as well as small mixed and large mixed divisions.
After a preliminary round, the top six choirs, as scored by judges, no matter their division, will advance to the finals. Groups in the unisex and small mixed divisions also will receive awards after preliminaries for most outstanding performance and best choreography.
Naperville North's choirs will perform exhibition shows as judges tally preliminary and final scores, but they won't compete.
The Clash of the Sequins comes during the height of high school show choir season, in which teams compete between four and seven times from January to March, said Robert Deason, director of the Ladies First all-girls choir from Hersey High School.
"The coolest thing is all of our kids are so excited to support each other," Deason said, even while playfully battling it out for bragging rights and prizes like "The Belt."
"You watch them develop relationships with kids from other schools that they're going to see four or five times in three months."
Ladies First, like the other performing groups, will put on a show of about 20 minutes, singing between five and eight songs based on a theme, with costume changes and lots of dancing. The choir's theme this year is Greek mythology, which Deason said allows the singer-dancers to focus on female empowerment, "feeling fierce and fabulous and having an amazing time."
"With a girls group," he said, "you can always have a lot of fun with the theme."
If you goWhat: Third annual Clash of the Sequins show choir competition
When: 7 a.m. to midnight Saturday, Feb. 17
Where: Naperville North High School, 899 Mill St., Naperville
Details: Features 20 competitive high school show choirs from the suburbs, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and Nebraska
Cost: $15 wristband for all-day access; raises money for performing arts