2024 IO Class Finalist Review

2024 IO Class Finalist Review

By: Emily Ward 

Congratulations to all of our 2024 Independent Open class finalists! Review their productions below in order of Finals placement.

1st - Georgia (95.450)

Dressed in nude body-tights to match their skin colors, Georgia forms a circle around one soloist in the middle, hands stretched out along each other’s backs to open their 2024 show, On Earth As It Is. The team’s feature flags come out on green flags, contrasting their uniforms and creating a symbol of dirt and grass on the earth. Feature sabres send their weapons into the air, performing high-flying tosses with leaping turns underneath. As the show goes on, the whale team picks up green silks to begin the show’s flag feature. In the middle of their hit, all the flags are layed on the ground, giving the spotlight over to one athlete performing a fast-pace hit of their own toward the back of the floor. After putting their flags down, one performer picks them all up, carrying them over his head, resting them on his back as he slowly moves closer to the rest of the team as they close out their moving show with an ensemble dance moment.

2nd - Alta Marea Winterguard (94.150)

Alta Marea Winterguard, straight out of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, put on an incredible performance, leaving audience members wanting even more. The team is in various maroon costumes with a piece of rope around one of their shoulders. Their props consist of a mass of different sized spools of rope. Beginning their 2024 program entitled, Tethered, an athlete pulls one of the ropes out from the center spool. A rifle is then tossed from over the spool, allowing time for two other dancers to pull out a rope of their own from adjacent props. This leads to three of the weapons tossing and sliding beneath a section of rope to catch their tosses on the other side. Most of the team is on rifle, allowing for some incredible partnerwork while flags do their feature and a dancer struggles against a rope tied around her. For their flag hit, half the team is on flag, which allows the team to have even more exchange tosses, including a cone double turn around with an exchange in the middle. Teamwork is really the name of the game for this program. They end their show with all the athletes in the center of the floor, fighting to get the ropes away from them and become untethered. In the last moments of their show, the performers become free.

3rd - Ménage (92.650)

Creating a home of their own with props of couches, benches, a door and more, Ménage opens their 2024 program, In the Kitchen, set to the song with the same title by Reneé Rapp, with a dance soloist moving her way through the front door. As the soloist passes by performers around them, they begin to move throughout the floor. Following along with the words of their song, three groups of sabres and flags release tosses in a ripple. In a group of sabres toward the back corner of the floor, they release an ensemble toss, catching their equipment with vast amounts of ease. Using most of the team for their rifle line, this guard proves how multi-talented they are by having athletes do an ensemble rifle five with an attitude turn underneath it. To close out their show, the team picks up colorful flags that correspond to each of the four sections of the floor, wowing the audience with a beautiful ending toss of a one handed 45 released behind the back with a slide underneath before being caught.

4th - Collage (92.250)

Bringing to the floor a backdrop of a red train that stretched across the back of their floor, makeup to make them appear paler and more ghostly, and a variety of costuming, ensuring that each costume is ripped up and in shades of darkened colors, Collage set the scene to perform their haunting 2024 show entitled, Ghost Train. One athlete opens the show by running across the floor with a light covered in a white, see through fabric. The story of this show is that all of the performers were passengers that died on a train. The team uses multiple rifles, giving them the ability to layer their show design, spread out performers and their choreography. Athletes make rows of alternating dancers, rifles and flags to create a stunning set up for audience members. One dancer even crawls across the floor to tell the story of the deadly train ride. The props eventually turn around to reveal the inside of a train with seats, as the narrator talks about how the inside of trains scares her, since it was the place she was held between life and death. As sabres finish their feature, flags with red silks come out from the middle of the backdrops. Their flags, emotions and the music selection, coupled with the team screaming “help us,” makes their hit both beautiful and haunting. The show concludes with everyone except for a featured dancer falling to the ground and trying to crawl to safety, just to die in the end.

5th - La Voûte Performance Ensemble (90.350)

After setting up a long, black platform with three ramps on it, members of La Voûte Performance Ensemble each grab hold of part of the prop, lowering their heads to begin their 2024 program, An Act of Grace. Athletes wear see-through black skirts that they use throughout their dance to add to their stellar movements and intense facial expressions. While being lifted onto the shoulders by three performers, a soloist is tossed a flag from across the floor, beginning the first of many high-flying tosses in the show. This team has a rifle line equipped with only the best spinners, tossing more rotations than audience members can even count and making it look so easy. The team’s flag line comes out onto the floor spinning poles with fire detailed on the silk, making it look like real flames are overtaking their floor as they lift them up into the air. Their show ends with the team hiding underneath their prop, while three athletes remain on the floor–one struggling to get away from the wrath of another and the final of the three attempting to stop the second performer before they make an irreversible mistake in hurting the first performer. Throughout this team’s entire performance, crowds screamed with excitement and even received a standing ovation, following the conclusion of their performance.

6th - Revival Winter Guard (88.950)

Starting off their 2024 program, Aurora, Revival Winter Guard performs a fast-paced dance, showcasing the sharpness and precision of each of their movements. A flag soloist takes the floor, spinning a silver, metallic silk, adding a pop of color while the sabre line does ensemble choreography and tosses. More flags are added into the show, this time spinning purple silks with glitter throughout them. These athletes work hand-in-hand with the team’s rifle line to use their poles as a jump rope for the weapons to maneuver over in the middle of their toss. Heading into the beginning of their flag feature, a dance soloist pulls a piece of blue, translucent fabric out from beneath the team’s floor, using it as a prop throughout the solo. The team’s flag hit wows the crowd, as they toss an ensemble one-handed 45 with a roll underneath it. Closing out their show, their opening flag soloist picks up a flag once more, dancing their way through half of the performers as they fall to the ground, before passing the flag along to a teammate and acquiring the blue silk in its place.

7th - Glory Independent (88.400)

Glory Independent begins their 2024 show entitled, Luminoso, with each athlete holding a tall, white pole in their hands. An athlete in the center of the grouped teammates holds a headstand throughout the first twenty seconds of the show, immediately proving to the crowd the athleticism that this team possesses. To start the tosses for their show, dancers work with three rifles to hold up poles for them at angle, so that the weapons can toss over the tops of the poles, walking beneath the prop to catch on the other side. These poles are used again in the same fashion for another group of weapons to jump over while doing a turn, smacking their rifles into their hands on the opposite side. Entering into their flag feature, half the team spins with two flags, waiting to hand off their extra flag to another athlete dancing with one of the props. These props continue to be utilized by all performers during the team’s flag hit, as one hand spins their flag and the other maneuvers the pole. They close out their show by lighting up one of the white poles and handing it to a dancer who is on the shoulders of a fellow performer.

8th - Pegasus Open (87.600)

Pegasus Open takes the stage with a floor designed with various silhouettes of people’s faces. The team starts their 2024 show, There’s a Place, in second position, spread out across the floor. As rifles spin their way to the center of the floor, flags take up the rest of it. The team even has a moment where each team member has their own moment to shine with unique tosses, during a full-team ripple. After setting down their weapons, the performers form a line for a quick dance feature, before going into their flag feature using gold silks. The emotions expressed on the faces of athletes in this show not only tell the story of the show, that there really is a place for everyone, but show how much these athletes care for one another. 

9th - Top Hats (87.350)

The generational organization, Top Hats, opened their 2024 program entitled, De Lune with an athlete sitting on one of their three swing set-like props–this particular one has a moon dangling from the middle; the other two have circles. Flag and sabre lines work together to exchange equipment, which includes a flag toss done by the sabre partners from one hand and caught by their flag partner from in front of them. At the beginning of the show, athletes are seen wearing long, white, sequined skirts, which are later removed to be used as a cape by the group’s dance line. Their graceful flag feature contains an array of tricks–most memorable, their ending toss in which they catch in a kneeling position–and is completed on silver silks to match their uniforms. The arena’s audience stayed silent during their flag hit, taking in the beauty of it all. Following the end of their flag feature, the team groups into the center of the stage to allow for the reveal of a sabre soloist who spins a lit-up weapon. They end their show with dazzling partner work in an ensemble dance moment.

10th - Phoenix Independent (85.500)

Phoenix Independent begins their 2024 production entitled, Forever Moving with an athlete on one of the team’s gold props doing a chin stand. The team then raises the soloist up into the air while still holding the difficult skill, showing the trust this team has in one another. Opening flags line the corners of the floor, giving them tons of space to perform their beautiful rippled 45 tosses. Performing many fun, unique skills, two sabres show off their tumbling skills while doing a one-handed front walkover with their sabre still in their opposite hand. The team has groups of three–dancers, flags and rifles, doing partnerwork in a tight space. To begin their ripple tosses, the gold prop is pushed across the floor and as it nears a rifle, that is their cue to toss. Half of the team’s performers begin their flag hit, while the rest of the team lines the front and back of the floor to do a final toss. After the toss is caught, they go ahead and quickly grab the team’s gold, translucent feature flag silks, joining them to finish out the hit.

11th - Emerald (84.100)

Entering the floor with their hair in high ponytails and two braids laced together with sparkly, silver ribbon, athletes from Emerald embody the title of their 2024 program, Connected. The group’s first toss is on sabre with an illusion underneath, caught effortlessly by the soloist. A center dancer then stands atop one of the white props holding a heel stretch for multiple eight counts, showing the flexibility and agility of these performers.  The group brings out green elastic bands that they use during their dancer and rifle partner work, symbolizing the connection that this show is all about. To begin their flag feature, groups come in from every side of the floor in segments, leading to a stunning flag feature that ends in a 45 toss with a roll underneath it. The show concludes with a collection of blue elastic bands being pulled from athletes on the edges of the floor to those in the center, referencing the show’s storyline one final time.

12TH - ORIGINS Open (83.550)

Wearing white marching band plumes on their heads and uniforms in a shade of blue that match their floor, ORIGINS Open set small, black boxes all around the outside of their floor, readying themselves to start their 2024 production, Evolve. In six lines of precise formation with another performer clapping to portray a drum major, the team marches forward, some raising rifles up to their shoulders, others bringing up their gray and black flag silks to spread out across their floor. As the show progresses forward, athletes pull the plumes from their hats, the drum major removing their hat entirely. The team moves into a beautiful flag and sabre moment with three of the sabres being covered in a long, white fabric, making them appear larger than life in the air when they were tossed. While a group of flags from two parallel lines, tossing cherry bombs to one another, a section of rifles forms a line between them, performing stunning tosses as well. During this same time, the drum major removes the outer part of their costume, revealing a stunning, gold unitard underneath. The drum major’s appearance matches that of the flag silks used by the rest of their team in their flag hit, to which the audience clapped and cheered. Using true marching aspects in their show, ORIGINS Open really brought audiences back to the beginnings of color guard.

13th - Tampa Independent Open (82.100)

Wearing purple uniforms, Tampa Independent Open brings not a full length floor with them, but one shaped like a hexagon; black on the outside and colorful on the inside hexagon. Starting their 2024 program, Never Just A Shape Alone, with a small dance movement in the center of their floor, dancers back up to reveal a sabre soloist to perform the team’s opening toss. As the show goes on, pieces of the floor are slowly pulled back to reveal the whole floor actually being in full color and not mainly black. Tampa Independent Open wows audiences with both beautiful sabre and rifle features, using over half the team for both. Those not on weapon spin a purple and blue silk used in the team’s flag hit that features multiple tosses including breathtaking 45s that leave the crowd screaming for seconds after the catches are made. To end the show, their team returns to their opening positions, creating a full three-sixty for the audience.

14th - Main Line Independent (81.600)

As Main Line Independent walks onto the floor in brown unitard with netting, they bring with them eight giant claw-shaped structures of bone that are placed in an arch on the floor. What Remains showcases impressive opening positions, including heel stretches, headstands and attitudes that are held by performers, while they wait for their teammates to leave the circle of the claw and join them on the floor. Most of their team spins a rifle, opening with a beautiful section of double time in a tight formation, showing their precision and technique abilities. Following a captivation flag feature, the crowd erupted into applause as four dancers pulled apart four of the bone props, allowing for a rifle soloist to toss and do a front walkover through the center of the props. The second the performer caught, the flag line sent their equipment into the air as well, leaving the audience screaming with excitement.

15th - i-Squared (81.500)

Matching the title of their 2024 show, Under the Purple Sky, i-Squared has a watercolor floor in shades of blue, purple and white. Their uniforms are black with purple sequins and lace detailing. Their opening dancer begins their show with a beautiful back roll, landing in an attitude kick where the soloist showcases their flexibility, almost kicking their head. Teamwork is the name of the game for i-Squared, as every sabre is put into a pair to do an exchange toss, all of which are executed with ease. Their featured dancer spends the end of their show covered in purple fabric to symbolize purple rain. As the flag feature comes to a close, the team does a ripple toss, with the featured dancer jumping onto the shoulders of the final tosser to catch the flag. The team ends their show with every performer covered in the “purple rain.”