In this edition, the focus is on creating moments.
In reviewing a cappella performances, and determining whether a set really worked, I rely most upon the dominant impression—the biggest thing I’ll take away from a given performance. Sometimes the dominant impression has to do with a group’s ability (or inability) to blend, to use dynamic variation, to choreograph, or to execute a complex arrangement. Other times it comes down to a moment.
A truly sublime moment in a cappella can go a long way toward making or breaking a set. It’s that moment that truly gives me chills. That makes me want to stand up and cheer. That makes me laugh out loud. These are the moments that stick with audience members and judges alike and that are disproportionately likely to shape everyone’s overall impression of your set.
You can’t force moments. I’ve seen groups go for dramatic bits of showmanship—inserting acrobatics or over-the-top choreography; belting for no clear reason—that are more confusing that vocally or visually stunning. Truly great moments feel like organic extensions of the set up to that moment—mashing songs together, building a upon movements or star players that were only hinted at earlier in the performance, or even something as seemingly simple as a fully realized climax to a crescendo. Groups that build upon the raw components of their set to result in a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts have a chance at achieving something truly remarkable on the competition stage.
Get the timing right.
Ideally, a group wants for every song to be spectacular in its own way. When we talk about arriving at a defining moment, though, you need to be cautious about not peaking too early. Groups that arrive at their best moment in their first song run the risk of having the next eight minutes of their sets feel like a disappointment. Conversely, if a group can find a way to create the sensation they are continuing to build and build and build, arriving at spectacular point in the final song is a great way to give the set a feeling of wholeness and leave a memorable impression.
How have you seen groups make moments in competition? Let us know in the comments..