Mehlville High School Majorettes took the stage Friday night in the First Annual Teen Talent Showcase, sponsored by the Fox Performing Arts Charitable Foundation.
The Majorettes, which include senior Coral Hezel, juniors Savannah McCord and Ashley Meyer and sophomores Haley Dixon and Abby Wicks were among 11 other finalists who endured three levels of competition to reach the performance at the Fox Theater Friday.
Although the group didn't place in the top three, the Majorettes were happy to have competed in the talent search, where more than 4,000 people tuned in to watch.
“Just to twirl at the Fox Theater in front of so many people was huge,” Wicks said.
Perhaps an even bigger reward for the girls is the college scholarship opportunities that come with such a high level performance.
“Each one (of the Majorettes) won over $1000 in scholarship money,” said Kelly Wicks, the Majorettes' coach and mother of Abby Wicks. “As they moved on in preliminary rounds, they continued to get more money awarded. Of all five of the girls on the line right now, there is no doubt that if they want to twirl on the college level, they can.”
The Teen Talent Showcase is designed to encourage St. Louis area kids from all ages and backgrounds to participate in the arts. Groups competed in two preliminary rounds before reaching the finals with all areas of the arts represented, including live music, singing, dancing and twirling.
The showcase was judged by famed area talent including St. Louis native Phyllis Smith of the NBC TV show "The Office" and Director of Dance St. Louis, Michael Uthoff.
But performing at such high levels doesn’t come without its challenges.
For Abby Wicks and her teammates, the lighting at the Fox proved to be an obstacle.
“You know, when you’re throwing metal sticks up in the air, you have to be able to see them in order to catch them,” she said.
“It can be difficult to take twirling onto the stage environment,” said Coach Wicks. “But it’s a great learning experience.”
Overcoming this issue may be beneficial for the girls in the coming months. All 12 of the Teen Talent Showcase finalists will go on for the remainder of the year to perform in area venues throughout St. Louis.
For the Majorettes, this means shows at the Muny, Six Flags and Shakespeare in the Park. The culmination performance will take place at St. Louis’ First Night Celebration on New Year’s Eve.
From there, the Majorettes are only looking forward.
“I’ve been doing this since I was 2,” Abby Wicks said. “Why stop now? I just want to keep pushing myself to be the best I can be.”
Senior Coral Hezel hopes to translate the skills she has learned as a twirler into other aspects of her life.
“I want to pursue music,” she said. “So I’m hoping that stage presence is something that will help me as I get older.”
In April, the Majorettes took first place in the Missouri State Baton Twirling Championships in Kansas City, MO in the high school line level. They will move on to defend their 2010 title in the National Championships, held at the University of Notre Dame in July.
“We hope to bring the title back again this summer,” Abby Wicks said. “We take a lot of pride in what we do. We all love it.”