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Center Grove choirs no overnight sensation

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With just two days before the pre-contest show, Center Grove Sound System performers worked frantically.

Members of the mixed varsity show choir sewed and shimmied themselves into glittery dresses and performance costumes, stretched and prepared their voices to put on a mini musical.

No detail was too small to be overlooked. A director reminded students to smile or looked for costume adjustments that needed to be made.

Center Grove show choirs are serious business and have been a tradition at the school for at least four decades.

They win competitions across the Midwest and fill auditoriums with people looking for a good show. But it takes almost a year of work to make more than 100 students shine in grand displays of musical education.

The high school has eight choirs, but the most talented students are in the school’s two varsity show choirs, CG Sound System for men and women and the women’s choir, Debtones. CG Singers is a concert choir that concentrates mainly on music.

Debtones and CG Sound System are the students putting on the shimmery, dancing and singing spectacles, rehearsing multiple times a week to master difficult choreography while they belt upbeat tunes.

Choral director Jennifer Dice said being in a varsity show choir is like playing a sport.

Intricate ballroom dancing is intermingled with men lifting women in the air and mastering swing dance moves. Two women flip on hula hoops at the back of the stage in this year’s Sound System show.

“It’s pushing the envelope to see what we can do,” Dice said.

The four-month competition season kicked off in January, but work on the 25-minute show began last March with a handful of musical educators working to create a show that will entertain audiences and give students a taste of awards.

A choreographer, costumer and director come together to come up with ideas for the show. They plan out what they want and how it will be taught.

Hundreds of parent volunteers build props that the students will need. They sewed feathers onto boards worn by four girls, painted hula hoops black and helped attach details to dresses.

Most importantly, the parents’ booster club raises the money that allows the school to have the glitzy costumes and travel to compete at invitationals across the Midwest.

Student activity fees can pay for some basic supplies, such as the music for the songs they want to sing, Dice said. But nearly everything else is paid for through fundraising.

One of the biggest fundraisers is an invitational that brings choirs from across the state to compete at Center Grove.

“For most schools, (invitationals) are their bread and butter,” Dice said.

Show choir is an extracurricular activity, she said, but students learn skills they can take with them in almost any career.

Plus, choirs entertain the community. The annual Christmas show nearly sold out the auditorium, with more than 1,000 people taking in holiday tunes.

Hundreds of parents and family members drive across the state to see the choirs perform at the school’s invitationals.

“It is like a sporting event, they are pulling for their team,” Dice said.

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