Blue Brigade ends tough year with triumphant show

Able to perform indoors in the gym due to drop in COVID numbers, dance team savors a return to its traditional roots

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Kennedy Weatherby

STICKING WITH TRADITION: The McCallum Blue Brigade sticks the final pose during “Last Dance” to conclude their first Spring Show of 2021 on Friday April 16. “My favorite dance is ‘Last Dance’ because it’s such a classic!” junior member Natalie Dean said. I think it’s so fun, happy and a great way to end spring show every year,” The routine is full of memories for members past and present as it has been performed at the end of every spring show since 1991. Speaking of traditions, Dean helped to keep another spring show tradition alive when she made a slide show that included photos from the season as well as a tribute to seniors that included current and baby pictures of each graduating dancer.  Reporting by Grace Nugent.

By Marley Angle, Carly Johnson, Lucy Marco, Anna McClellan, Caleb Melville, Madelynn Niles, Grace Nugent, Samantha Powers, Lindsey Plotkin, Lydia Reedy, Anna Schlett, Alice Scott, Alysa Spiro, Javier Vela, and Kennedy Weatherby

After not having a spring show in 2020 and after a 2020-2021 campaign that director Nancy Searle said was often characterized by frustrations, disappointments and cancellations, the Blue Brigade ended its performance season on April 16 and 17 in the large gym with a triumphant and poignant 2021 spring show, which featured tributes to the 2021 seniors in the form of solos, duets, recorded speeches and a senior class dance. The shows on Friday and Saturday were dedicated to the class of 2020, which graduated without a spring show. The show was hosted by 2020 co-captains Lilly Brown and Amelia Paul and 2020 social officer Sidney Buford. The show also featured the debut performance of the 2021-2022 officers and the ceremonial passing of the captain’s torch. The team and the 2020-2021 officers performed their award-winning routines from the competition season; each class also performed for the audience; even the Blue Brigade parents joined in on the fun for the traditional parents’ dance. We are proud to share pictures from both the Friday and Saturday shows as this week’s Tuesday Top 10.

KICKING OFF THE SHOW: Starting off the show with a jazz piece titled “Opener,” choreographed by rising captain Charli Cevallos and rising first lieutenant Annabel Winter, the McCallum Blue Brigade performs their first kick line of the night. Sophomore Sophia Kramer really enjoyed kicking off the show with this piece. “I liked that we were all dancing together,” Kramer said. “It was the first time we got to see all the audience members. It’s a nerve-wracking feeling, but also a good one.” Freshman Beatrix McDaniel agrees with Kramer, believing that all members of the Blue Brigade had fun while performing the opening number. “We [the team] all caught onto it really quick, and it was choreographed and cleaned really well, so we were all able to have fun with it,” McDaniel said. “I think that’s what makes dances fun to watch, when we’re having a good time.” Reporting by Alysa Spiro. Photo by Anna McClellan.

TWO’S COMPANY: Senior duet partners Harper Cummings and Isabelle Baird embrace after performing their final duet of the year. “It was definitely a happy and sad moment,” Cummings said. Cummings and Baird have been inseparable throughout their high school years. “Isabelle has been there with me from deciding to try out together to stretching to get out splits and then making the team.” Cummings said. After having much of the fall season cut short due to the pandemic, Cummings expressed her relief at being able to perform in front of a crowd again. “Everything was so much better, especially the second night the audience really got into it which makes dancing a lot more fun.” Reporting by Javier Vela. Photo by Anna McClellan.

SWINGIN’ SCHLETT: Junior Blue Brigade member Anna Schlett (center) dances alongside her fellow members in a contemporary ensemble choreographed by senior co-captain Matthew Vargas. The ensemble members have been working on this dance since January, and it won Best in Class at the Central Texas Dance Festival at Georgetown’s East View High School on Feb. 27. Schlett said it was rewarding to finish a dance knowing you did your best, especially one of this difficulty. “Something about having the live audience cheering you on, and knowing that it was the last time I was ever going to do that dance, really pushed me to give it my all and do my very best,” she said. Reporting by Marley Angle. Photo by Anna McClellan.

STRUTTING SOPHOMORES: Sophomore Olivia Falcon performs a pom dance to “September” by Earth, Wind & Fire with her fellow sophomores. Each class in Blue Brigade was able to choreograph and perform their own piece, so the sophomores reworked the piece from a dance originally performed last year at a pep rally. Falcon liked the dance because of all the moving parts. “‘September’ is super fun to perform,” Falcon said, “because it’s super intricate and works heavily with accents in the music, but it also took a lot of focus to make sure I was dancing together with everyone around me.” Falcon felt a sense of relief and relaxation that she was able to have fun and dance with her classmates after a long year. “Our class has always been pretty close since most of us have had classes together since last year,” Falcon said. “But getting to work within ourselves was extremely fun and gave us time to reconnect especially after a really intense competition season.” Reporting by Samantha Powers. Photo by Kennedy Weatherby.

POP, LOCK, AND LEAD IT: The Blue Brigade performs its team hip-hop dance during the finale performance of the 2021 Spring Show on Saturday night. For senior co-captain Matthew Vargas (left), this final hip-hop dance and spring show was a chance to say goodbye and to reflect on his Blue Brigade career. “Since I am a senior co-captain, having a farewell show means the world to me,” he said. “With the pandemic going on, to be able to have this show was amazing.” Being a member of the team led him to create lifelong friendships and opened up an abundance of opportunities. “Not only is it an organization that bettered my dancing, but I learned to be an amazing leader and so many other qualities you need for after high school.” Reporting by Lucy Marco. Photo by Lindsey Plotkin.

TWIRLING TWINS: Senior lieutenants and twin sisters Valentina and Andrea Peredes spin in unison during their duet at the Mac Blue Brigade Spring show on Friday night. “Val and I choreographed that dance, and it was really important for us to pick a song we felt a connection to,” Andrea Paredes said. “’When We Were Young’ relates to how we are growing up and how our closeness as sisters is moving into a different chapter.” Reporting by Caleb Melville. Photo by Dave Winter.

Junior Elise Crouse performs the contemporary large ensemble to the song “I Want to Know What Love.” The dance was choreographed by co-captain Matthew Vargas. “I loved that we even had a show and that it turned out so beautiful and amazing,” Crouse said. Crouse said her favorite aspect of the Blue Brigade spring show is its tradition of continuity and strong artistic vision. “The contemporary dance was one of my favorites because of how it told a story. The song, the costume and the choreography all worked together really well.” Reporting by Grace Nugent. Photo by Anna McClellan.

DADS WITH ALTITUDE: At spring show rehearsal on April 8, Rudy Alba, dad to senior Sipriana Alba, brandishes the karate kick he later unleashed at both performances of the show on April 16 and April 17 in the large gym. The spring show was especially meaningful, Sipriana told MacJournalism, because the pandemic wiped out last year’s show (like everything else). “This will be my last year performing in the spring show for Blue Brigade,” she said before opening night, “and since we didn’t get one last year this one will be very special and one to remember. My dad and I have danced together in the show all four years [it was virtual last year], and he loves that this year we will be right up front for him to show off his amazing dance moves!” Photo by Dave Winter.

WITH FLYING COLORS: Members of the Mac Blue Brigade strike their final pose of the show’s hip hop routine, an upbeat dance number featuring quick choreography and colored bandanas. For freshman Gabriella Smith, this dance was a definite favorite. “There was a lot of movement both fast and slow, and we did many transitions, too,” Smith said. “The whole part where we pulled out our bandanas looks cool too, and was a crowd pleaser.” Other than this number, Smith is grateful that her first year on Blue Brigade could still be spent with some normalcy, as the Spring Show and rehearsals were able to occur in-person. “It was nice having a crowd to cheer for you, and people calling out,” she said. “It gave me a rush that I had missed out when not performing… I have really enjoyed the feeling of being on a team again and having people to perform to.” Reporting by Madelynn Niles. Photo by Anna McClellan.

ONE LAST HURRAH: Senior Harper Cummings strikes the final pose in the Blue Brigade’s pom dance. “We performed [the dance] during football season, our virtual competition, and then at the spring show,” Cummings said. Although this dance has stayed consistent, the normalcy of the Blue Brigade schedule did not. “We started the year off with in-person practice being delayed a month,” Cummings said, “so for us to end with something semi-normal was extremely special for everyone, especially the seniors.” For Cummings, the show was about more than just dancing. With graduation swiftly approaching, the show had an added layer of sentimentality for her and the rest of the seniors. Cummings shared; “I am incredibly grateful for my time on the team and the memories I made.” Reporting by Lydia Reedy. Photo by Kennedy Weatherby.

LEADERS WITH A LEG UP: Alongside fellow Blue Brigade officers for the upcoming school year, junior Emily Garza (left) performs the “captains dance” — a student-choreographed number used for officer tryouts and later performed by the new leaders at the Spring Show. For Garza, this dance provided an opportunity to bond with the already close-knit group and get excited about the approaching school year. “It felt amazing,” Garza said. “We are all super close and love our team, so it was great to perform for the first time and get a feel for what next year will bring.” Having the energy of a live audience, too, was something Garza appreciated about the show. “There were so many parents rooting and cheering; it felt just like a pep rally,” she said. “This year has obviously been very different, and even having a Spring Show was amazing.” Reporting by Madelynn Niles. Photo by Lindsey Plotkin.

FUNKY FRESH: Performing Intermission, Annabel Winter dances to the piece choreographed by twin Blue Brigade senior lieutenants Andrea and Valentina Paredes. The dance was distinct compared to the others performed during the Spring Show and allowed the dancers more freedom. “[Intermission] was definitely one of my favorite dances,” Winter said. “I really like how different it was. This one was really funky and had less precision. Also, as always, the twins made a really cool mix of some great songs.” Reporting by Alice Scott. Photo by Kennedy Weatherby.

SOPHIE’S FIRST SPRING SHOW After missing out on a lot of what Blue Brigade would have normally done in the fall, like pep rallies and big halftime performances, freshman Sophie Leong-Leiu made the most of this spring show and is looking forward to what the future holds for the team. “We didn’t get to do a lot of the regular things during football season because we started pretty late because of COVID,” Leong-Leiu said. “I’m glad we had a semi-normal spring show.” While she cherished the seniors’ monologues and was inspired by their solos, Leong-Lieu’s favorite dance was the hip-hop piece the team performed to a mix of several hip-hop songs chosen by senior lieutenants Andrea and Valentina Paredes, who choreographed the dance. “It was really fun and a big crowd-pleaser,” Leong-Lieu mentioned in the interview. “Everyone really liked it.” Going forward, Leong-Leiu is hoping that there will be a somewhat-normal year coming up so that she and the team will get to do all the things they’ve missed out on these past nine months. Reporting by Anna McClellan. Photo by Dave Winter.

CHARMING CHARLI: Beginning her first solo as captain, junior Charlize Cevallos leaps across the dance floor. “I wanted to change up my solo from the previous one I had done in officer tryouts, so I asked Matthew Vargas to help me choreograph this one and I loved it,” Cevallos said. “It was super challenging and jam-packed but overall I was really happy with it and just glad I got to perform.” As future captain, this solo performance allowed Cevallos to set the tone of what the team will look like next year. “My favorite part of the show was performing ‘Intermission’ because it is such a fun dance and the crowd loves it,” she said. “It is bittersweet because the show is about to end but the dances are so fun, and you start to feel like all the hard work has paid off.” Reporting by Carly Johnson. Photo by Dave Winter.

DADS CAN DANCE IF THEY WANT TO: Senior co-captain Addie Seckar-Martinez and junior lieutenant Annabel Winter dance alongside their teacher fathers, art teacher Jeff Seckar-Martinez and journalism teacher Dave Winter in the spring show parents’ dance on Friday night. “I am so thankful that my dad agreed to do the dads’ dance with me because it’s nice to just be goofy and silly with him and not worry about making the routine perfect.” Addie said. “I will miss having opportunities like that next year, but I know I’ll enjoy watching him dance with my younger sister.” While the Blue Brigade girls had more dance experience, the dads brought something very important to the table: a sense of humor. “My goal heading into the dance was not to be that dad that caused the shrieks of laughter for falling or knocking a row of dancers down, but Harper and Emily did a great job of choreographing the dance, and Annabel was a skilled and patient teacher,” Dave Winter said. “Once I actually got on stage, it was slightly more fun than it was terrifying.” Reporting by Grace Nugent. Photo by Nicole Griffith.

STICKING WITH TRADITION: The McCallum Blue Brigade sticks the final pose during “Last Dance” to conclude their first Spring Show of 2021 on Friday April 16. “My favorite dance is ‘Last Dance’ because it’s such a classic!” junior member Natalie Dean said. I think it’s so fun, happy and a great way to end spring show every year,” The routine is full of memories for members past and present as it has been performed at the end of every spring show since 1991. Speaking of traditions, Dean helped to keep another spring show tradition alive when she made a slide show that included photos from the season as well as a tribute to seniors that included current and baby pictures of each graduating dancer.  Reporting by Grace Nugent. Photo by Kennedy Weatherby.

Performing her ‘Last Dance’ as a member of Blue Brigade, co-captain Addie Seckar-Martinez completes her final solo while being recognized during the dance. “I could not have been happier with how this show turned out,” Seckar-Martinez said. “I was excited to even get to have a show at all, but this exceeded all of my expectations.” “Last Dance” has been performed since 1991 and although there have been a few small tweaks, the dance has mostly remained the same. “It’s an amazing feeling to perform ‘Last Dance’ knowing that there’s alumni in the audience watching that have performed the exact same dance,” Seckar-Martinez said. “The feeling of performing Last Dance in front of your friends and family is the best feeling in the world, and I will never forget it.” Reporting by Anna Schlett. Photo by Kennedy Weatherby.

This story was originally published on The Shield Online on April 27, 2021.