The smell of stale hairspray, combined with burning hair and loud frantic voices engulf the air. The tiny classrooms with desks pushed against the wall is about to explode. It is crammed to the limit with members of Protégé, parents, friends, and directors, squealing and screaming with pure joy as we all grasp the first place trophy, that we have put our blood, sweat, and tears into. I can’t imagine sharing this moment with anyone but these people, my extended family that I have grown to love, and share the passion of show choir with.
The cold air was invigorating as I stepped out the front door, decked out completely in green and gold. I climbed into the car with my best friend Emma, and we chattered excitedly about our first competition of the season. We were already running late, and were panicking about our hair and make-up, and hoping we would have enough time to look “stage” ready. We entered the homeroom and were struck by the chaos. There were girls fighting for a spot at the mirror, boys putting on make-up, people coughing and choking down water. The mad rush to the finish line began as we grabbed our make-up and costume bags and scattered to find a place to get ready. Finally, after an hour flew by, everyone was ready and we were standing in a circle preparing for the inspirational pep talk that awaited us. Mr. Sands began by saying “you have worked so hard these past few months, and now the time has come for you to go out there, and leave it on the stage”. “It’s not about winning, but putting on your best show.” Oh sure, we’ve all heard this spiel from millions of coaches and directors, but we really wanted to win. I grasped my best friend, Edwin’s hand and squeezed, a mix of emotions filled my body. I was terrified, nervous, thrilled, and full of energy all at once, and just couldn’t wait to get on that stage and produce an extraordinary show. I looked around at the faces of everyone and see similar emotions. Mr. Sands announced that we were going to the warm-up room, and a rush of adrenaline hit me. In a mere, twenty minutes, we would be on a stage singing and dancing our hearts out. We linked arms with our ballad partners, lined up, and left, to perform what we hoped would be an incredible show.
My heart was pounding out of my chest and beating so fast that I could practically hear it whirring. We were standing on the sides about to go on stage. A chorus of “break a leg” and “leave it on the stage” could be heard and then the drum beat cued us to enter. “From Cedar Rapids, Kennedy, Protégé!” A second drum beat and the show began. For those next twenty minutes, I felt this huge adrenaline rush and blast of energy in every inch of my body. For those twenty minutes, nothing in the world mattered, but our show, our singing and dancing, and the screaming audience. For those twenty minutes, I was in paradise. As we hit our final pose, and lunged with our jazz hands stretched out, the audience boomed with incredibly loud applause. At that moment, I realized that show choir, singing and dancing are three things I could not live without. They are an enormous part of who I am, and at that moment, I knew that I live to perform.
We danced off the stage and completely collapsed on the sides. I made my way to every member of Protégé with a hug and words of pride and happiness for what we all accomplished. We were led to the library for a critique that was filled with compliments, and some criticism. We left the room feeling like superstars and made our way to the gym for awards. We sauntered past our rival group, Urbandale Vitality, and although we had not yet seen their show this year, we knew it was excellent. From all the “showchoir.com” gossip we had heard Urbandale has a remarkable prep group and would probably win. But as we entered the gym, the only thing on our minds was the huge party occurring in the center of the gym. Of course, we were exhausted but none of us could resist the party. For the next hour we danced and sang to NSYNC, Rihanna, and Journey, being the show choir geeks we all were. Finally, the judges have tabulated the scores and had the envelope in their hands. Results were not the only thing in there. It also had the heart, soul, hard work, tears, sweat, and practice of every single member of Protégé in it. It’s finally opened and the moment we had all been waiting for was finally there, so close, yet so far away.
Huddled together and squeezing each others hands the forty-eight of us all had the same thoughts racing through our minds, and the same rapid heartbeat. All the places have been announced, and there are two left. One for us, one for Urbandale. We now had a fifty-fifty shot of winning. But then the master of ceremonies said, “And now for the moment you’ve all been waiting for, the first-runner up is…. Okay now its time for the caption awards.” Loud groans and complaints erupted throughout the gym. The tension was so high, and I could practically feel the intensity of glares from Urbandale Vitality.
They announced best choreography and of course it went to Urbandale Vitality. At this moment, my hopes were shot down, and I thought that Urbandale would definitely win. But then they announced best vocals and it went to us! We began to scream and jump for joy. One of our goals was to win best vocals, which is a huge honor at these competitions, and we had accomplished it. Now back to the moment we were all waiting for. It was a close race. Urbandale had won best choreography, but we had best vocals. “And the first runner-up is Urbandale Vitality”. The happiness that spread through my body was indescribable. I wanted to jump and scream and sing and dance, but all of this would have to wait. Out of sportsmanship we waited to erupt into cheer until they announced our names. “And the grand champion in the prep division for Linn Mar Super Nova 2009 is Cedar Rapids, Kennedy Protégé!”
At this point everyone in our area exploded. We screamed at the top of our lungs, cried tears of joy, and jumped around hugging one another. This win was incredibly special for me, because I had participated in show choir for three years and had never won. All our hard work finally paid off, and we truly did leave everything we had on the stage. We continued to scream at the top of our lungs for the next hour. People called their parents, grandparents, friends, aunts, and uncles to tell them of the good news. We all hugged our director, Mr. Sands and congratulated each other. It was the perfect ending to the perfect night.
It was our first competition ever and we had won. Everyone was really proud of us, and we were proud of ourselves. This family, this team, these people that I have spent unbelievable amounts of time with for the last three months standing together holding that grand trophy was a moment that filled my heart with tremendous joy. All our hard work had finally paid off, and sharing this moment with this extraordinary group of talented singers, dancers, and people was an event I will never forget.
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