Northeast Middle School

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TCHS Eighth Street Singing Company Welcomes new Choreographer

The first full week of classes after a long and relaxing summer can be an adjustment. Rising before sunrise, catching the bus or driving to school, and juggling homework with after-school activities can all take a toll on even the most dedicated students in the first week. So, it is no surprise when after a full week, many TCHS students choose to relax and enjoy their precious weekend, sleeping until noon, playing computer games, and texting friends. However, for 34 TCHS students, this past weekend was anything but a chance to sit back and relax. The members of the TCHS Eighth Street Singing Company show choir spent their weekend sleeping in dorm rooms and eating cafeteria food, all without television or reliable cell phone service. Why? Because that’s what it takes to learn the choreography for the 2014-2015 competition show.

While the past three years have been tumultuous for the group, with a different director and choreographer every year, this year marks the beginning of a new era, and part of that era includes choreographer Mike Weaver, an author and award-winning director/choreographer based in Chicago. A graduate of Millikin University’s School of Commercial Music and Columbia College of Chicago’s School of Film and Media Arts, Weaver collaborates with some of the country’s most notable high school music departments to stage both concerts and musical productions. Over the years, his work has garnered awards for best directing, choreography, lighting, set, and show design. This co-author of the book Sweat, Tears, and Jazz Hands: The History of Show Choir from Vaudeville to “Glee” works with only five high school show choirs in the nation, and thanks to newly hired director, Scott Rains, our ESSC is lucky enough to be one of the five.

Seniors and co-presidents, Sarah Willis and Jessica Stinson, couldn’t say enough positive things about Weaver and the upcoming show. Willis admits that while Weaver is definitely “more professional” than their former choreographers, he is “fun to be around” in spite of working them extremely hard. Stinson describes the dance moves as “complex and tied together in weird ways [she has] never seen before” but is quick to point out that Weaver taught the group “little things that will make the show worth watching.” ESSC prides itself on being a family and living by the late Chris Robinson’s mantra, “If you die tomorrow, what will your legacy be?” Echoing Robinson’s lasting impact, Stinson says the Rains/Weaver camp taught the group members that “it’s not about coming home with a trophy. It’s about doing your best and coming off the stage feeling like you were the best thing that could have hit it. The true winners win with the heart.” With Rains’ direction and Weaver’s choreography, the group’s show, “Workin’ for a Living” promises to be a treat for the performers as well as the audience.