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L-EHS Winter Guard Utopia takes first place

Posted: April 4, 2014 2:22 p.m.
Updated: April 7, 2014 5:00 a.m.
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Judges at Western Carolina University (WCU) in Cullowhee, N.C., crowned Lugoff-Elgin High School’s (L-EHS) Winter Guard, Utopia, the Carolina Indoor Performance Association champions on March 29. L-EHS dance teacher Sarah Price is the guard’s director, assisted by Rebecca Richbourg and Chase White.

Price said the concept behind the Winter Guard is “a dance competition while using equipment found in the outdoor marching band color guards -- flags, rifles and sabres.” L-EHS formed the Winter Guard and began competing in 1993. In 1999, it split into two units: Genesis for the less experienced students and Utopia for more advanced students, Price stated.

Winter Guard competitions take place indoors, usually in gymnasiums, Price said, with each group developing its own theme, music selection and choreography to “best convey their show concept to the audience.” She said performances are judged for artistic achievement, design and execution of the performance.

The group is made up of middle and high school students. Price said auditions are held for Marching Band Color Guard each spring and that nearly all of the Winter Guard members are involved in the marching program along with the L-EHS dance program, which Price also teaches. Price said Winter Guard auditions are held in November with the competition season running to the first week of April.

The group practices throughout the week to learn the performance’s techniques and choreography. Price and Richbourg plan the show’s concept and also select a song for the season. Richbourg said she and Price “write drill(s) and choreograph (the dancers’) movement to the song.”

The competition held March 29 saw the Winter Guard compete against nine other groups in their round at WCU. Richbourg noted that “in both rounds of Scholastic AA, we completed against 19 groups. We placed first. (Utopia) received a score of 79.31.”

The score, she explained, is derived from five judges’ scores, and evaluates movement, equipment, design analysis and general effect. Genesis placed seventh with a score of 69.23.

“After we performed Saturday evening, we came out of the arena with smiles and tears of happiness. We all felt the performers had done their very best. They have grown so much as performers this season. To see their accomplishment Saturday filled Sarah and I with tears of joy,” Richbourg said. “When we were announced as winning first place at awards, the performers, parents and instructors smiled and were filled with joy. The group was excited about what they had earned.”

Winning first place was what Price described as an “aesthetic moment.”

“There wasn’t a dry eye anywhere,” she said. “Students, directors and parents were overwhelmed with the performance. There were hugs all around.”

In looking towards the group’s future, Price said that she was looking forward to beginning recruitment for next years’ team.

“A great season like this deserves to be followed by yet another great season next year,” she said.

Richbourg said she and Price hope to continue to build the program towards one day competing at world championships.

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