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Ball State Mid-America Show Choir Championships Preview


Ball State University singers perform at Carnegie hall (BSU, 2022)


Indianapolis, it is finally time for the season to start! In past years, the Indy scene came alive in February, with events at Fishers and Homestead kicking off the festivities. This year, the Indianapolis season will kick off with the return of a competition not held since 2004. The Ball State University Singers have decided to once again open their doors to the insanity that a show choir competition brings. This year’s edition of the Ball State Mid-America Show Choir Championship brings some amazing storylines and all kinds of amazing groups, so let's take a look at who will be kicking off the Indy large mixed season at Ball State.


Mixed

Plainfield Belles et Beaux

#8 on HRSC Indy Power Ranking

Entering this competition, Plainfield ranks highest on HRSC’s Indianapolis Power Rankings in Ball State’s lineup, and they truly earned that designation. Placing in the top three in every comp last year, taking a caption off a member of the Power Five, and getting third at ISSMA state means they took a huge step forward last year. So what does that mean for the coming year? While one of Plainfield's major strengths is its size, bringing a lot more singers and dancers on stage than other groups, this can also be a challenge. Getting the average group in large mixed clean at 55 strong is tough, so it becomes a tough job when you're at 70-plus. This doesn't even include a new stage design, which will add a brand new 5th row, and will be logistically difficult to set up. With such a new and complicated stage setup, Plainfield is potentially vulnerable to time penalties, which could make a major difference in whether they win or lose.  Their dance captains have been up to the plate the last several years, with Jared Voss continuing to bring solid choreography to the program. They are a favorite in this competition and will be an interesting group to follow through this season. 


What is a step forward? 

Get 70+ members to work together and produce a strong product. This is their first time out, and they will have a lot of people on that stage. Figuring out the logistics to get all the risers set up will be challenging, but getting it right is imperative as Plainfield looks to move up in the Indianapolis scene.  If they can do well at this comp, while bridging the gap from planning to reality, I consider that a victory. 



NHS singers photo day (The Times of Noblesville, 2023)

NHS Singers
#9 on HRSC Indy Power Ranking

Noblesville returns from Beavercreek with a Vocal caption in hand, and without a doubt, a head held high with confidence. Loveland and Ross are strong groups and putting up a strong vocal performance to take a caption over them has moved them up in my rankings and made me consider them extremely competitive this year. This comp will truly test how strong NHS Singers’ vocals are on a much vocally strong Indy competitive circuit. Plainfield and Carroll are also strong vocal groups and a great test to see if this vocal power can stand up to solid Indy groups. Their set is fun and interesting with an amazing tech piece in the DeLorean from Back to the Future on stage. Without a doubt, this is a group you’ll want to watch and see live in person if you get the chance.


What is a step forward?

Proving that vocal caption at Beavercreek is an every-week thing. If they can go out there and be the best vocal group in the field, then that makes them extremely competitive with Indiana’s often vocal-heavy score sheet. 

 

Carroll Magic

Carroll begins a new era, shortening their name to Magic before the new year, which though it's a simple name change, could mean a new identity for the group. They had a strong season last year and faced some tough competition outside of Indiana with third places on debut at Northrop and their final competition at Heart Of America New York. However, those third places are not created equally. At HOA New York, Carroll defeated very strong groups in Ankeny Centennial (IA) and Daniel Hand (CT), who have been at the highest level in their respective circuits. While Carroll did not venture into Indy this past season, they will do so more often this season, running into multiple Power 5 opponents. With these meetings, we’ll finally get to see where Carroll, which typically leads the northern Indiana circuit, truly stacks up with the Indianapolis circuit.


What is a step forward?

Get a win in Indy. What keeps me from really ranking them in the top ten is that they haven't competed in the main Indy circuit. If they can get a win here, they will be able to prove they belong. Regardless of what happens, if their show is strong, they will be extremely difficult to beat this season.


Decatur Central Goldenaires

Decatur Central has decided to compete against some of the top groups in Indy just like they did last year. That itself needs to be commended as competing against some of the top groups in the country will get you more experience than almost anything else. They will have a tough road ahead of them, being a group that at times moves down to tier 2 for size, carrying a far lighter singer and dancer load. More people give more vocal power and as much as judges do their best to avoid the bias of more voices, it will always be a factor. Though who knows - sometimes the biggest threats are the ones who blow everyone away while being at a disadvantage. It's Indianapolis, anything can happen. 


What is a step forward?

Being in the fight with schools bigger than you. Sometimes, just making yourself a factor is a good enough win when facing bigger opponents. Sometimes they are able to pull off a stunner that no one sees coming. You have to get in there to find out, so if Goldenaires get in this thing, who knows what noise they can make.



Lawrence Central Central Sound group 2023 (You are current, 2023)


Lawrence Central The Central Sound

(Editor's note: Lawrence Central withdrew after publishing time.)

Central Sound is a group that gets lost amidst all of the great groups in Indy and deserves a closer look. They were competitive last year, gaining podium places at every comp except Pike, where they faced 4 of the Power 5 in finals and at State, which is a whole different topic. While they are not in the preseason top ten, they are a group that is on the precipice of exploding at any time. At any point, they can find a show or an identity that could jump them right into contention. They have had some disappointing results, but I am going to attribute that to the "Joe Sato effect" that happened at state where strangely, several well-regarded Joe Sato groups, including Brownsburg, North Central, and Lawrence Central all finished very low compared to their season's other results. Assuming that does not continue into the new season, Central Sound is just as primed as ever to have their breakout season.


What is a step forward?

Take the best choreography caption and make it convincing. If LC can come in with some swagger and show that they still belong in these comps, I have full faith they can take that caption away from any group. Watching their show last year makes you wonder why they don’t make as much noise as they could. If they are on their A-game, they certainly can contend with some of the Power 5.


Predictions

This comp will be an extremely close fight between these groups. I have a real belief that almost any of the large mixed groups could produce something special on Saturday, especially because we haven't seen much out of the field yet. Beyond Noblesville, every group will be making their debut this weekend, which makes this one a complete wild card. No matter how good you are, the set makes a major difference. While we don't have a lot to go on, our Indiana team came to this consensus due to timing and where groups are this week. 


GC: NHS Singers (BV)

1RU: Plainfield Belles et Beaux (BC)

2RU: Carroll Magic 

3RU: Lawrence Central Central Sound

4RU: Decatur Central Goldenaires


Who do you think will win?

  • NHS Singers

  • Plainfield B&B

  • Carroll Magic

  • Lawrence Central CS


Womens


Plainfield Femmes Fatales

Femmes has been on a solid rise in the past several years, with a really strong season last year. They came out and put three wins on their sheet, all at Indy comps and put on an incredible show. They continue to be choreographed by Jarad Voss, who puts groups in very solid positions to win. I see them continuing their strength into this coming year and gaining even more ground. In every circuit, the name of the game is improving year over year. Femmes, like all Plainfield groups, is following that trajectory amazingly. 


What is a step forward?

Start the winning early in the season. Start with a strong showing here and they can be considered an extremely important threat at whatever comp they are at. That would make them extremely deadly throughout the season if they can prove themselves here. 


Carroll Select Sound 2023 (Carroll choirs, 2023)

Carroll Select Sound

Carroll continues to be the pride of Fort Wayne and the northern Indiana circuit. Often, they have been unable to get into the Indy circuit due to the extensive travel required to do so, making more sense to compete in a very competitive Ohio circuit or nationally when they want more challenging competitions. While Select Sound started the season with a blemish last year, they concluded their season in what can only be described as complete domination. When you go out four times, get four wins, and only drop one caption to the national powerhouse Los Alamitos, you send a message about your group. This group has an amazing pedigree and power behind them, and If they continue last season’s momentum, they will be unstoppable.  


What is a step forward?

Continue their trend from last season of continued domination. You don't defeat Los Al without having a solid set in and out. If they can replicate that dominance again this year, they could be the next Fishers Sound, the last major breakout group in the single gender division.


Decatur Central Expressions

While not winning each weekend they compete, Decatur Central has continued to improve and compete at a higher level each and every season. The saying 'iron sharpens iron' is very applicable here. While they may not be as competitive, the ability to learn every weekend from the best judges and best competition in the country will pay dividends in the end. They decide, despite being smaller than many of the powerhouses around them, to go out every week in the large division, which takes guts and I applaud them for that.


What is a step forward?

Become a known quantity, ensuring that every person leaves the auditorium remembering the name Expressions. If you can leave that impression on people and especially judges, you can begin the shift the way your group is viewed for many years to come.



Lawrence Central Sweets 2023 (LC choirs, 2023)


Lawrence Central Sweets 

(Editor's note: Lawrence Central withdrew after publishing time.)

Lawrence Central had a contender for most fun show of the year in 2023. The use of a basketball hoop in a set and a reference to Space Jam can not go without praise. It was a creative set, though it may have led from a distraction from the talent on stage. Show choir has always been a balance between showing off cool things and displaying the talent. That may have hurt them last year. Regardless, they competed with some of the best Indy groups and continue to make improvements year after year, so who knows, they could be the resurgent group of 2024. I have faith, that their slam dunks in the set last year could lead to slam dunks on score cards this year.


What is a step forward?

Becoming more than fun. While shows can be fun, there is also a goal to become a group that people have to worry about every time you see their name. While Sweets has a bit of name recognition, they could always use more. Any group (other than Attachè) could use more, but I think Sweets definitely deserve a lot more than they get. 


Predictions

I predict this comp to be a close fight between Femmes and Select Sound. Both had wins across their sheets, and both groups know how to win. Last year, Select Sound had the better resume but until HOA, Femmes faced harder competition. With not much to go on from their current shows our staff came to the following predictions based on last year’s performances.

GC: Carroll Select Sound (BC, BV) 

1RU: Plainfield Femmes Fatales

2RU: Lawrence Central Sweets

3RU: Decatur Central Expressions

Nathan Ensley also contributed to this article.


Who do you think will win the womens division?

  • Carroll Select Sound

  • Plainfield Femmes Fatales

  • LC Central Sound

  • DC Expressions







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