The DeForest High School Show Choir Is Back In Business

“A hidden gem in a lost treasure,” here’s what you need to know about the DeForest DeFortes.


The DeForest Area High School DeFortes performing their first show since 2020

When talking about High School Show Choir, many Americans go to the 2009 television sensation, Glee. From weekly musical assignments to all sorts of high school drama that captivated the crowd, the real thing is far different from the show. 

Show choir is a combination of singing, dancing, and theater. An average season of show choir begins with a choreography camp during the summer, the DeForest show choir works with choreographer Ben Shrank. Choreography camp is basically a three to four-day camp, where you learn all the choreography to all the songs in your setlist. 

As the school year resumes, you have regular rehearsals. Usually, these practices are on Sunday afternoons. During rehearsals, you run through the choreography and practice the songs that go along with it. For a while, you practice both separately, but then you put it all together. Then you add in makeup and costumes, and you’ve got yourself a show. 

DeForest Area High School is home to the DeFortes, who are currently in their tenth season of show choir. The choir currently consists of 16 students, with four others involved in the show band with Lyrica Daentl as director for two years. The DeFortes performed their first show, “Born To Be Yourself,” since 2020, on January 10. 

So, what draws students to this musical extracurricular? Three-year member, Macey Gladem, explains, “The best thing is creating a family out of the show choir group and performing with them.” Clara Neubert comments, “You get to sing and dance, and I really really like to do that.” Neubert has been involved in show choir since eighth grade, this year as a dance captain. “ I just like the community.”

As the director, Daentl said, “I love the energy, I love the students involved, I love watching the progress of the show getting better each week.” 

As the district show choir extracurricular starts in middle school, lots of members have been involved for multiple years, forming connections and bonds with kids both younger and older than themselves. “It’s really fun being able to hang out with your friends,” Neubert stated. You eventually spend so much time with the group, they become almost a ‘second family.’ 

Asking about the average rehearsal practices, “We normally warm-up; both for singing and for dancing and then we practice a couple of songs and dance them as well,” Gladem starts. Neubert adds, “You run through the songs and figure out chords and stuff. And then you do dancing and you go over stuff people either forget or are bad at overall, in a group.”

The usual rehearsal takes place on Sunday afternoons but asking Daentl about plans for next year, she mentions, “I think we’re going to take a look and reevaluate our schedule for next year,” hoping to have fewer rehearsals on weekends. 

Doing choreography and singing songs repetitively helps with memorization. As a dance leader, Neubert has been assigned one song in the setlist to become an expert in, then at rehearsals when faced with confusion or bad memory, she steps in to help remind everyone of the correct steps. Alongside Neubert, Samantha Casper and Victoria Fischer are also dance leaders. 

During rehearsals, it’s important to focus on how far you’ve come from the beginning of the season. “Where we start and where we end is a big accomplishment,” encourages Daentl. 

Mid-winter is usually when competitions start. The DeFortes have their first competition since 2020, on January 22, at New London High School. You can travel throughout your state or even countrywide. At competitions, you and your group perform your show during your time slot, and while you wait for your turn, you watch other schools perform as well. “It’s cool to see other groups perform,” Gladem mentions.

Anything can happen at competitions. Neubert shares a story from one of her first competitions, “I fell on stage; that was embarrassing. I was handing off a ball or something like that and I fell!” But, she got back up, the embarrassing memory eventually turned into a fun story of the past.  It happened so long ago Neubert can’t specifically remember how she fell, “Actually, no, I was spinning!” 

The majority of former show choir members were seniors, causing the number of participants to drop from over 30 to about 16. The member number is practically split in half. “I feel like it’s not something that everyone knows about, it’s actually a really cool club, but people don’t realize it,” Gladem remarked. 

“It’s kind of a hidden gem in a lost treasure,” Daentl starts, “It has to be perfect, and the precision and the rehearsal and the discipline to be able to sing, dance, maintain everything, is such a fine art, and it’s really fun to be able to do that.” 

Daentl shared some things she’s looking forward to next year’s season. As a director, she is looking for DeFortes members’ input on their future setlist asking that they share song ideas they may have. Together, creating their setlist and show theme. 

During the summer, Daentl also hopes to start a ‘Show Choir Camp,’ for elementary and middle school children. It would be a week-long activity, where children can go and experience what it’s like to be involved in show choir. Members of the DeFortes would act as directors, teaching participants choreography and words to a song, ending the camp with a performance at the end of the week for family and friends. 

If you are interested in becoming a member of the DeFortes, “sign up for choir, come sing, learn your basics there, then talk to people who are involved in show choir.”