Indian Creek dance team, Center Grove choirs claim titles

Center Grove and Indian Creek students claimed top spots at recent state and national competitions.

Center Grove choirs

For the second consecutive year, Center Grove choirs swept top spots in a national competition.

Center Grove High School choirs Sound System, The Debtones and CG Singers were all named Grand Champions of their respective categories during the Heart of America National Championship in Nashville, Tennessee March 11.

The choirs outperformed schools from Mississippi, Nebraska, South Dakota, Ohio and Massachusetts. The Debtones won in the Large Unisex Division, with awards for best choreography, best costumes and best vocals. Sound System won in the Large Mixed Division, with an award for best vocals, and CG Singers finished top of the group in the Concert Choir Division.

While most students had experience from competing in the Heart of America contest last year in Florida, they had the pressure of trying to repeat as champions, said Maddie Sponsel, senior and co-company manager of the Debtones.

“2022 was our first normal season since COVID. It lit a fire underneath us. We hadn’t experienced competition in so long and that led to our success,” Sponsel said. “This year, we got to the show and didn’t know if we could do better than last year, but we found out we could top that. Our mindset at first was, ‘we were National Champions last year; it will be really hard to do it again.’”

Starting during an intensive choir boot camp last summer, however, members of The Debtones realized they had the skills to reach the summit of the competitive mountain once again, she said.

The Debtones’ show mixed elements from “Dracula,” “Don Quixote” and “The Scarlet Letter.” The key to the season was doing everything possible to try and outdo last year’s performance, said Jared Norman, the choir’s director and a former member of Center Grove choirs.

“What students are doing now is more difficult than what I was doing,” said Norman, a 2008 Center Grove graduate. “We want students to be pushed farther and farther every single year. I like the creativity I have in designing the shows and costumes, creating mini-musicals every year and creating stories through our students.”

Students rehearsed for 10 to 15 hours a week during the peak of preparation for the six-week season, which ran from early February to mid-March. Sound System Director Jennifer Dice chose a show she titled “Fame Monster,” which focused on musicians who lost their lives early because of the high stakes of fame, with references to Elvis, Judy Garland, Jim Morrison and Kurt Cobain, Dice said.

The victory in the national competition continues a tradition of excellence for Center Grove choirs, Dice said.

“Students hold each other accountable to an elevated standard,” she said. “They realize people came before them and set the bar and the standard, and it’s their job to work hard and see the fruits of their labor. I think it’s teaching them something they can take to their lives beyond high school.”

Indian Creek dance team

The Indian Creek High School dance team claimed its third state title in a row, with a top finish for the team’s hip-hop routine during the Indiana High School Dance Team Association State Championship March 11. The team competed in the Scholastic Division, reserved for squads with fewer than eight members.

The Indian Creek High School varsity dance team took home a third consecutive state title for the Scholastic Division in hip-hop dance, and jazz dance won second place during the Indiana High School Dance Team Association State Championship Saturday SUBMITTED PHOTO

The jazz team, which made its debut this season, finished runner-up, missing out on a title by one point, said Julie Anderson-Beasley, varsity dance coach.

“They just did a great job Saturday. For hip-hop, they went out and had their best performance of the season. So many of those elements clicked together and they had the highest score of the season, so they felt really good about it, too,” she said. “I think it’s fun to see how excited the girls are about it. It’s really great to have that title.”

Senior Quincy Nuetzmann finishes her high school career as the dance team’s captain and a three-time champion.

“I was sad this would be my last competition, but it helped motivate me to push myself harder to make it the best competition I could,” Nuetzmann said. “I just hope they continue to push themselves to be the best they can be and for the team to be the best it can be.”

Center Grove dance team

The Center Grove High School varsity dance team competed at the National Dance Alliance, or NDA National Championship March 3 and 4 in Orlando, Florida.

The team did routines in the pom, kick dance and game day categories, making the final round in both kick dance and game day. In kick dance, they placed sixth overall, while the game day routine earned the team a fifth-place finish. For two of three routines to make the final round was a testament to the hard work the team put in throughout the season, said Emily Rich, a sophomore who finished first in a state solo competition in February.

The Center Grove High School varsity dance team goes through its pom routine during the NDA National Championship, which took place March 3 and 4 in Orlando, Florida. SUBMITTED PHOTO

“It was overall a really good experience. It gave us the opportunity to learn what we need to implement on our team the next few years to go back to nationals and be a competitive team,” Rich said. “It was only our second year going to nationals. As a newer team, it was good to see hard work paying off.”

The trip helped the girls relax and ease the stress they had competing earlier in the season, Coach Hannah Sanders said.

“For the first time all season, the girls really gelled together and didn’t have the normal nerves. They were really in synch and it was great to see that,” Sanders said. “I’m pleased with them this season. They dedicated personal time to be better. It’s everything I can ask for as a coach.”