By MJ Johnson
Congratulations to all of our 2023 Independent Open class finalists! Review their productions below in order of Finals placement.
In “Til’ Death Do Us Part”, Vox Artium takes us through the story of a woman and her five husbands. It begins with a lovely wedding march as couples line up down the floor in a display of their love. But the show quickly takes a dark turn as the audience learns that she has in fact killed her husbands. With performers dressed in stunning wedding dresses or tuxes, there are several moments where performers pair up with each other as though brides and grooms. The show finishes with the bride being lifted by her five headless grooms.
“The Very Thought of You” by Etude Open tells a story of longing through love letters. As performers move across the floor, they reveal several letters and leave them scattered around the floor. With stunning maroon silks, performers enter in groups of four to fill the floor with a precise and clean flag feature. They leave us by lifting the corners of the letters as a couple finally reunites at the desk in the corner.
The Pride of Missouri State
Journey through “Rushing Waters” with The Pride of Missouri State. With a floor covered in a swirling mass of blues, teals, and gold, the performers showcase outstanding dance and stunning turns. They give a beautiful flag feature with pink silks that stand out against the blues of the costumes and floor.
“Vita Nostra” by ORIGINS Open gives us a glimpse into a secret world filled with gold. The show begins with a stunning sabre soloist as performers encircle a tall golden bar. Meaning “Our Life”, ORIGINS shows us their life in this world. The show culminates in a dance feature as a lone flag spins and the soundtrack fades out.
Edge Independent open
In “On the Run, Edge Independent Open is running. In a pre-show moment, a performer in a green dress is pacing around the floor. She suddenly breaks into a sprint and as she runs between the store backdrops, she suddenly appears without the green dress; as if hiding. Set in a rundown western town, they are running from something that seems to be catching with them. Equipment is exchanged over and between backdrops in exciting ways. As stores shutter closed and the floor is folded up from the corners, the green dress reappears as she leaves for the next town.
La Voute Performance Ensemble
In “The Greatest Gamble”, La Voute Performance Ensemble shares a story of risking it all for love. Giant dice sit in the corner and backdrops of playing cards turn around as a heart wrenching cover of ABBA’s, “The Winner Takes It All” plays. The performers showcase a lovely moment with rifle and flag partner work. Confetti is thrown in ironic celebration as the singer laments his loss and an intense final flag and rifle moment ends the performance.
“Arise & Fall” presented by Allegiance gives a glimpse at the life of a tree. The show begins with performers covered in a brown cloth. As they drag it out, it takes the shape of a tree and dancers place their brown scarves like branches. They impressively navigate around the tree with yellow and orange flags signifying the leaves of the tree. As they finish with a dance feature, they expand to reveal a rifle in the center for one final toss. Then, like leaves falling, they curl up at the base of the tree.
As two dancers begin a duet, Pegasus Winterguard introduces their program “I haven’t said enough”. The music intensifies as a quick precise flag feature drives the members to fill the floor. Dance duets are featured prominently in this performance about desperately trying to hold on to a lost love. The show ends with the two dancers on opposite ends of the floor after going back and forth between saying too much and not enough.
Alta Marea Winterguard
With “On the Outside Looking In”, Alta Marea Winterguard shows us how it is hard to understand a situation from the outside. They spin colorless flags at first before turning their window props around to show the red “inside”. They then present an impactful ensemble rifle moment. Showing the perspective of the “inside”, they use beautiful silks full of color for a flag feature. Two performers are left staring at each other through the window as the full perspective can not be seen by the other.
In their program “The Wall”, Glory Independent presents a commentary on the divisive immigration conversation happening in our country. They begin with large gates across the front of the floor, as they desperately try to climb and reach through. The props are then used to separate the performers from the audience as they give an emotional flag feature on the back half of the floor. They close the gates but they still are able to sneak and slip through the cracks, helping each other. There is a powerful moment at the end with performers holding hands in solidarity.
Top Hat presents “Reminiscence”, a lovely homage to the organization’s origins. The floor is scattered with photographs of past years performers as the current members reminisce about “the good old days” with their soundtrack. A notable moment occurs when at the end of the show, they pose with letters spelling out “60 Years”.
“Bioluminous” by Emerald begins with the sound of waves as performers sway back and forth as though waves ebbing and flowing on a beach. In moments where the soundtrack transitions between waves crashing and quick instrumental music, this changing pace is matched by the spinning and movement of the performers. There are several impressive moments during the show where the use of fabrics are incorporated with tosses as fabric is pulled over their heads. The show ends as the waves recede and bright, pearls are scattered across the floor.
Main Line Independent
Main Line Independent shows us “Flicker”, a story about a flame fighting to stay lit but still eventually flickering out. Starting out with orange flame flags, they switch to a blue flame as the music builds in intensity to signify the flame burning hotter. A stunning flag feature culminates as they ‘extinguish’ their flames one-by-one and a lone flag tosses as the flame is blown out.
3rd Legend sets the stage of “The Darkling Thrush” with a desk in one corner and a gate in the other. Accompanied by a voice-over of the poem by Thomas Harding, a bird song can be heard as melancholic music begins to play. As the poet contemplates the bleak winter landscape, the performers take on the role of the Darkling Thrush singing a song of hope. The show ends with the performers creating a path with their flags for the poet and leading him outside after a lifeless winter.
“The Distance Between Us” by i-Squared starts with yellow lines making uniform angles on the floor. During the performance, these lines are modified with yellow poles and flags to form different shapes and lines, as well as creating a divide between different equipment moments. These different lines represent how the distance and relationships between people can change, just as lines can intersect and pass each other in different ways.