By Katie Swinton
Over 500 a cappella fans filed into an auditorium at Rutgers University to watch the quarterfinals of the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella last Saturday evening. For the Villanova Supernovas, this event marked their first-ever appearance in the competition.
For those unfamiliar with how exactly the ICCA works, there are six regions (five covering the United States and Western Europe). Groups submit videos of their songs, and from those submissions qualifiers are selected. Each region then holds a series of quarterfinals in which the top two teams advance to the semifinals. The winner of each semifinal then performs in the finals held at New York City’s Lincoln Center.
The Supernovas agreed that this year they were prepared to enter this prestigious competition, so after recording three of their songs during a rehearsal and editing the sound and video, the group submitted their performance tape and soon after were notified that they had been accepted.
The troupe started preparing for the competition as soon as they returned from Christmas break.
“We learned all our choreography and music in just two weeks and had a week to perfect it,” junior music director Tommy Monks says. “We are self-admittedly not dancers so learning that was the hardest part.”
Their performance at the competition, however, showed no signs of dance inexperience. The group of 19 flowed cohesively and impressed the audience with their complex choreography as they flawlessly executed the recently-learned routine.
The Supernovas sang first, performing three songs in their 12-minute allotted time slot. They debuted their talented younger members as all the solos were performed by underclassmen.
They began with Florence and the Machine’s “Dog Days Are Over,” highlighting sophomore Maura Ricci as the soloist. With excellent back-up, she belted out the song, leading the audience to wonder if she might secretly be the actual Florence Welch. (After some research, it is confirmed that she is, in fact, not the actual Florence, just an extremely talented Villanovan.)
Freshman Rachel Rorke lead the Supernovas in an eerily captivating performance of Britney Spears’ “Toxic.” Intense choreography combined with a unique and impressive arrangement by Monks made this song the most distinctive of their set, and juxtaposed perfectly with their final song, “Too Close” by Alex Clare.
Freshman Eric Stoll gave a phenomenal solo during this song and the Supernovas portrayed their solidity as a group as well as the hard work put into the preparation for the performance.
“As the music director, and co-choreographer, I am so proud of all of the Supernovas for taking everything that I’ve thrown at them and making it into something incredible,” Monks says.
This impressive performance is highlighted even more, considering this is the group’s first showing in a competition of any sort.
“The competition was a great learning experience for us,” says junior Megan Garbarino, despite the fact that the Supernovas did not advance to the semifinals. “I’m so proud of everyone’s dedication in preparing for it.”
“We are all so grateful for everyone who came out to support us,” says Gabarino.
There were an impressive number of Villanovans in the audience as the Supernovas elicited the loudest cheers.
Also of note, the efforts of senior Andie Rodriguez, sophomore Chelsea Turiano and Monks as co-choreographers for the performance as well as Dave Marx with impressive vocal percussion throughout the three songs.
The Supernovas will take this as a great experience that they can learn and improve from and hopefully we will see them at the ICAAs next year.