K-State Pride audition process moves online

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Classy Cats auditions are being conducted digitally this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The audition process includes a video submission and Zoom interview. (Logan Wassall | Collegian Media Group)

Due to setbacks from the COVID-19 pandemic, Classy Cats, the Pride of Wildcat Land drumline, twirlers and K-State Color Guard will audition digitally. They will utilize a mixture of video submissions and Zoom calls.

Despite this, everything will continue “as if things are normal,” Frank Tracz, band director, said.

The online audition process has brought a few challenges, such as band members lacking necessary materials or instruments at home.

“Most people don’t have a flag sitting at home so that’s going to be something we’re gonna have to combat,” Amy Dundas, Color Guard coach, said. “They are going to have to somehow … meet up with me and rent one from me. Or they can go back to their high school, if they’re a senior in high school, and see if they can borrow one from there. That’s why we’re giving them a lot more time, because we know that that’ll be an issue trying to figure out where to get a flag to perform the routine.”

Part of the Classy Cats audition process already is sending in a video, which will proceed as planned. Sara Heptig, Classy Cats coordinator, said a live workshop was planned on April 18, but had to be cancelled due to the current circumstances.

“We’re going to release material for the candidates to learn the routines that way so they’re still learning the same routines they would have learned in the live audition,” Heptig said. “They’ll learn the fight song, they’ll learn jazz combination and hip hop combination, and they will have 48 hours to learn the material and then send it back in.”

The combinations that need to be learned range from 30 seconds to just under a minute. The submissions need to be under five minutes. From there, scoring will take place and “callbacks” will occur.

“If there’s anything that the judges need to see again … not knowing how everything has gone at that point, I kind of gave a little bit of freedom,” Heptig said. “There are virtual callbacks — whether that is another interview or [needing a candidate to] send in a different piece, but this gives us a little bit of freedom and then from there we’ll be making our decision.”

To promote human interaction that will be lost, online interviews will take place for each applicant.

“That interaction piece is really important,” Heptig said. “We’ll be setting up Zoom calls or … different ways to kind of get a little personal feel from the candidates.”

The deadline to audition for Classy Cats is April 10.

This year, K-State Drumline applicants had the opportunity to submit recordings of needed excerpts for their audition. These recordings, as well as an audition timeline, are all available on K-State Drumline’s website. Candidates can submit their videos to Brett Butler, K-State Marching Band percussion arranger and instructor.

“In the past couple weeks, actually, we’ve had 40 plus submissions, which I think is great, especially in this difficult time for everybody,” Butler said. “And I’ve been emailing veterans back that were on the line last year just to see what’s going on, what the situation is for this year. But I was very impressed with the numbers that we got back for video submissions.”

Auditions closed on March 28. Submission reviews and scoring will take place over the next couple of weeks.

“[We’re] looking for potential and seeing who could really just have great drive throughout this Drumline,” Butler said.

Color Guard application information is available on their website. The deadline to submit a video application is April 25. The final team will be announced on April 27.

Twirlers will also submit videos to audition and be evaluated this year.

Despite the changes, Tracz is positive everyone is trying their best and working hard.

“Everybody’s got a different set of requirements and quality levels,” Tracz said. “They’re looking for the best — people who can learn very quickly, we’re looking for people to put the effort in … They’ve usually been doing this for a long time. Especially in the case of dancers — they’ve been dancing since they were born, for God’s sakes, they danced off the table into their mother’s arms — so they’ve been doing this for a long, long time. So we’re looking for people that are quick with that [talent].”

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