SU band, dance camp participation hits record high
It's official. Southern University's High School Band and Dance Camp has the largest participation - 440 students - in the camp's 17-year history.
The students, who range from middle school to high school seniors, come from all over the country. They hail from as far away as Washington State, Ohio, Maryland, the U.S. Virgin Islands "and everywhere in between," said Interim Director of Bands Nathan Haymer.
In addition, he said, "We have over 50 band directors and dance team sponsors attending the camp as well."
Victoria Mills, a band director at Martin Luther King Jr. High in Detroit, said she has been bringing band members here for years. This year she brought 23. "No other band has the showmanship and the style that they have here at Southern University," Mills said.
How big is this record number of participates? Last year's group set the prior record at 270 students, Haymer said. "To bring in over 400 this year is really something to be proud of."
There are around 300 band students around 140 dancers, Haymer said. He believes the number has grown so much because of social media and better publicity about the band.
It didn't hurt either that the National Collegiate Athletic Association selected the Human Jukebox as the second best college marching band in the country in 2013.
Musicians and dancers arrived on the campus Sunday morning, many by school and chartered buses. Haymer spent much of the early afternoon registering students and directors, assisting them as they settled into residential housing.
On recent afternoons a huge contingent of the band practiced at the Dr. Isaac Greggs band hall, while the dancers got into their routines at the F.G. Clark Activity Center and the Horace W. Moody Sr. Intramural Complex. Even future drum majors were strutting outside of the band hall.
"I've never seen so many girls at this camp," said former Dancing Doll April Rollins, one of the dance camp instructors. Some of the participants are from as far away as Michigan, Ohio and Illinois.
Rollins and several other current and former Dolls spent Monday and Tuesday sending the high school girls through their paces and showing them the Dancing Doll style of performance.
"One girl who had never seen the Dolls said after seeing what we do, now says she has to be Dancing Doll," said Rollins, who finished her career as Doll this past year.
Haymer just smiles when he talks about the large number of participants.
"This is a true testament of the legacy of the 'Human Jukebox' marching band and the world-famous Dancing Dolls," Haymer said. "It is a great honor and pleasure to lead such a captivating and well-respected organization."