With the mixture of extravagant makeup, incredible dance moves, and lots of laughter from audience and performers alike, Taylor’s beloved tradition of Airband promised an event of fun for all involved.
Yet before the fun began, many groups had a large amount of preparation ahead of them, including Taylor’s Inter-Class Council.
Airband is an annual event at Taylor University and is usually popular, but the past two performances have suffered under the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year, regulations required space between each audience member, limiting attendance and buildup, while the performances in 2020 were canceled completely.
Students spent the months before Airband looking forward to it, some committing to acts while most were waiting in anticipation for the return of the full-fledged show. As organizers, ICC was aware of the excitement and knew the hype was not unwarranted.
Long before auditions, ICC had to start preparing for the show, beginning with the theme.
“What we look for in a theme is what can we do in the space and then how can we incorporate the theme more into the show,” Sophomore Class President for ICC, Elisabeth Nieshalla, said.
This year’s theme of America’s Got Talent offered space for creative decorations around the student center and inside Rediger.
“We want it to be this stage, this show, this thing that the students get to engulf themselves in,” Lauryn Mekelburg, senior class secretary of ICC, said. “(To) really have the students and families and faculty walk in and feel like ‘whoa.’”
“This year will shock the audience,” Mekelburg said after the first round of auditions. “In actuality, I think the level of dances is better than we’ve seen before.”
But the process used to choose the final acts from those auditioning isn’t based upon dance skills alone; many participants don’t have much experience.
“Obviously, the dancing needs to be good, but it’s not the main focus of the show by any means,” said Austin Cochrane, sophomore class secretary.
Instead, the creativity and originality of each act are considered, including costume and set design, as each group is responsible for its own. With so much contributing to how final performances are chosen, it gives students room to experiment and personalize their acts.
“It really does emphasize the creativity and originality of the Taylor community,” Mekelburg said.
Airband is a massive tradition, with tons of people involved, everyone each devoting significant time. There are many supporters and behind-the-scenes contributions in addition to each of the performances which are made up of dozens of students. In order to coordinate their teams, most practice 2-3 times a week for 2-3 hours each time, some even more.
“It’s pretty hardcore for something ‘lower-level,’ but that’s how much people love it. That's how much people want to invest in it,” Cochrane said.
On top of helping direct the event, Nieshalla also participated in an Airband act. As one of several among the council who chose to do this, she looks back as both a manager and an actor.
“You put in so many hours,” Nieshalla said. “Sometimes, it’s frustrating and hard, but that first run through (where) everyone gets the moves and then the tide starts turning. There's so much community and teamwork that happens.”
“The community around it is huge,” Cochrane said. “I don’t think you’re going to get that at any other event surrounding Taylor except maybe Silent night.”
Most agree that the work is entirely worth it for the final product.
“The show itself is such a celebration of all the work that has gone into it,” Nieshalla said.
During deliberation, any council members who participated in the Airband in question have to leave the room, but otherwise, they all watch and discuss acts together, sharing in responsibility and payoff.
“We all get to work together, but we kind of have our own little team that really collaborates to put something huge on,” Mekelburg said.