Saturday, March 08, 2014

Olympics! Canadian Showtime Chorus Style!!

First the world watched extremely inspirational women and men compete in Sochi –their journey was realized by hard work, determination, drive and the will to succeed. This coming weekend we will be drawn to our TVs to watch in awe, as the athletes of the Paralympics surmount every challenge and make their dreams reality!

Does that devotion, passion and dedication remind you of another group of competitors - athletes in their own right?? Listen up – the Olympic and Paralympic Athletes train for years to participate in a competition that can last just seconds. They train to build up strength, stamina, confidence and technique. It becomes their passion – it is their reality! Doesn’t that sound exactly like the mantra of a Sweet Adelines International chorus? Well it certainly sounds like Canadian Showtime Chorus’s!

Three weeks ago one of Canadian Showtime’s dedicated members, Donna Thomsen planted a seed in our chorus director’s ear. She had a team building idea that would incorporate the Olympics, singing and our audit program. Our director, Sandie Nason bit and quickly convened a three-woman committee (Donna, Sandie and me!) and in record time the world’s first ever Singing Olympics were born.  A high level plan was drawn up in a 30-minute meeting and the CSCOC (Canadian Showtime Chorus Olympic Committee) members went off with their individual task lists. That was week #1!

Week # 2:

In 2010, one of our very own Grace Kelly, was a torch runner. She graciously (yes – pun intended!!) allowed us to use her official souvenir torch for this inaugural event!

The Management Team (MT) stood on the floor in two rows, facing one another, at either end of the risers. Under thunderous and roaring applause, Grace brought the torch into the room. She handed off to Sandie who showed great athleticism and glided across the floor to the next MT member. The pattern continued until the torch reached Belinda, our outgoing Team Leader. From the floor, she made her way up the center of the risers to Kathleen, our incoming Team Leader. Accepting the torch – along with the responsibilities of her upcoming role – Kathleen ran the torch down to the floor and back into Gracie’s hands! It was powerful – it was magic and made even more magical by Christine Ritchie who’s trumpet purred like a kitten when she played the Olympic Theme song in the background of all festivities!

Sandie, the CSCOCC (Canadian Showtime Chorus Olympic Committee Chair) welcomed the music athletes to the Singing Olympic Village Hall and introduced the concept of the games! Three teams were formed - each competitor would perform both contest songs and one of three repertoire songs to be drawn from a hat immediately before the team’s performance at the games.

The official judging panel was announced (Kathy Callahan, Carole Griffin, Grace Kelly, Nancy Mantle, Pauline Coathup and Sandie Nason) and the CSCOCC administered the oath of office. I’ve repeated it below as it doesn’t seem right to leave such a strong and wise oath out of a blog!!

“WE swear to be fair, impartial and open minded to all competitors in the interest of upholding the high caliber of performance in CSC.  WE promise to accept no bribes, over $100.  WE swear to have never taken part in any kind of skating or ice dance judging.  WE would like to remind all competitors "if you don't know where you are going, you might end up some place else".”

The teams went off to choose their directors, decide on team colors and pick a name! The remaining time was spent on singing and making plans for the big event! And that was week # 2!

The flurry of activity between the Tuesday’s of week #2 and week # 3 was electric.  The teams bantered by email (hundreds of emails) and secretly plotted ways to draw the most attention and earn the most points to take the gold!! The teams bonded, jelled and gained momentum. There was no containing the excitement of this lot!! It is obvious – this is one competitive group!  

Week # 3:

Our chorus rehearsals start at 7:15 pm on Tuesday’s. On game night, all three teams were in the Olympic Hall-village by 6 – 6:15 pm latest!! Team Outer Limits; Team Fab Fours; Team Triple Threat – hair done - make-up on - glitter eyes and cheeks -and attired in their team colors. ALL PURPLE! How funny was that! If we were ever to give up our red and white (which we never will!!), purple would be a popular alternative!

No game is complete without Opening Ceremonies! The CSCOCC proudly introduced the first entertainer of the night, interpretive dancer Annie Klackers (she looked a lot like Ann Higgs) who to the sweet tones of ‘I Believe’ interpreted hockey, ski jumping, cross country skiing and the crowd favorite, luge! It was inspiring, it was powerful, it was Annie Klackers at her best! This was deemed to be a tough act to follow but the Ukulele Triplets (Janet , Stephanie and Julie) – all born from different mothers and inspired by KD Lang at the 2010 Olympics – sang Hallelujah! Hardly a dry eye in the house!!

The inspirational coach of all coaches, small but mighty Nick Pound – known in some circles as Nicky Weiczorek – delivered a pep rally style speech that had the crowd on its feet cheering and chomping at the bit  - itching to be let out of the gate!

The joy and passion was heightened when the torch was brought back into the room by Gracie who this time handed off to Louise Eldred, one of our charter members – she handed off to Shirley Webb, our longest standing charter member and together they lit our Olympic Flame! The CSCOCC declared the games officially opened!

The draw for order of appearance had Outer Limits on the risers first with bonus song Somewhere Out There; then Triple Threat with bonus song Canada Medley and finally Fab Fours ending with bonus song Man I Feel Like a Woman. Although all teams planned in isolation, the common themes were evident! Each had a walk-on; each had a team flag and common elements to their costume, each had emceeing and every single one of them bribed the judges! How low can you go! Evidently very low! There was chocolate and cookies galore.

All bribes aside, this judging panel took its work very seriously. They deliberated and returned to the hall with results full of positive feedback and constructive criticism for each competing team.  Everyone was a winner but in the end there was a first, second and third place winner. Interestingly, reverse the order of appearance and you have the winning teams! Fab Fours took gold, Triple Threat silver and Outer Limits took bronze! Everyone received a medal and a flower bouquet (gotta love Dollarama!!). We ended the festivities with Christine on the horn one more time, a semi dark room with sparkles lighting the room and hand holding while we gently rocked to the end of the Olympic theme – the end of the Singing Olympics 2014!

All of the above ‘games’ served the intended purpose! It promoted team building, it reinforced personal accountability and it increased our confidence, which in turn strengthens our musical output. The Singing Olympics were a roaring success and will keep our spirits and focus going for months to come!  What an experience!

“I am building a fire, and every day I train, I add more fuel. At just the right moment, I light the match.” -- Mia Hamm, gold medalist in women’s soccer

Great fire building Canadian Showtime sisters – let’s train hard and add more fuel. Hold on to your matches – keep watching the floor – Sandie will give us the sign.

Fire – my heart is on fire!!!!!!

I am so in love with this hobby!

JD Crowe

Chorus Candids
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