The “lemon-lion face” is among the many facial expressions that University of Mary Washington sophomore Sarah Combs makes to get psyched up for an Encore performance.
“It calms my nerves and makes me laugh!” Combs said of the expression.
Encore, a small co-ed ensemble show choir, had its first performances of the year on Friday, Nov. 2 and on Saturday, Nov. 3. The theme was “Dance Dance Evolution,” a play on the similarly-named interactive video game Dance Dance Revolution.
The performance included an eclectic mix of music selections, including everything from ‘N Sync, to Elvis, to 80s rap songs.
Fourteen performers made their way through 30 song excerpts and frequent costume changes, with clothes ranging from simple jeans and t-shirts to crazy, Hawaiian-esque garb. Towels were used as props, and a variety of flips, twists and tosses elicited applause from an audience of around 150.
“I really liked the concert,” said Alex Dearth, a sophomore. “The costumes were cool. The music was a great mix. My favorite part was when Sara Beth Darr did her solo.”
The final medley, called “Dance Evolution,” mimicked the video game counterpart as the Encore performers switched rapidly between 14 different songs, styles and speeds of song and dance. The shows were directed by Dr. Stephen J. Burton and choreographed by Rebecca Moffitt .
“I think both shows went really well and I know we all had a blast which is the most important thing,” Combs said.
Saturday shows tend to be audience favorites due to their relaxed nature.
“The Saturday shows are always the best because we’ve lost our nerves and can have more fun with it,” said senior Amory Hunt, Encore dance captain.
According to its members, Encore is a very close-knit group.
“I love the community of show choir as a whole. Throughout the year we get to know each other very well and act like one big family,” said Laine Bryant, a second year Encore participant.
The small size and heavy practice schedule give the performers a chance to really get to know each other.
“I feel like I’m just with a group of friends during every practice instead of actually at a rehearsal,” said freshman Kat Dickinson.
As with all close groups, Encore has its own traditions, such as regular trips to Waffle House and many inside jokes.
“This year’s joke was ‘The Real World: Encore Style’ where we went through all the confessionals that we would have amongst us,” said Hunt, a Psychology major.
The world of Encore is not without its mishaps, however. There are plenty of unfortunate setbacks during rehearsals and even at the actual shows.
“We were supposed to rehearse in Dodd, but we weren’t put on the schedule for some reason,” Hunt said. “We were locked out, so we practiced right in front of GW a capella, which was interesting to say the least.”
Luckily, onlookers rarely notice when something doesn’t go as planned during a performance.
“My shoe was untied for the whole “Beat Goes On” medley,” Combs said. “But apparently no one in the audience noticed.”