This year, Viking Days combines new events with existing traditions
Varieties moves to Pavilionheredder12@ole.augie.edu
The 60th anniversary of Viking Varieties has changed the look of this year’s homecoming performance. While past years focused solely on current students, director of college events Emily Sievers said she and other faculty wanted to bring back alumni who have shaped the show into what it is today.
“Varieties is like a phoenix,” Sievers said. “It’s reborn every year into something new and different.”
Adding alumni to the performance brings several changes, including reducing the number of shows from six to one. According to Sievers, this decision revolves around the all-class reunion on Saturday. Varieties will be the reunion’s “highlight.”
“Alumni have a special place in their hearts for Viking Varieties,” Sievers said.
Heath Weber, a 1997 graduate with a BA in Music Education and Morningside College’s (Sioux City, IA) associate dean of performing arts, agreed.
“Varieties gave me some of the tools I needed to be a successful teacher of music and performing,” Weber said.
Having only one performance also brings a change in location. Varieties will not be performed in the Edith Mortenson Center (EMC) as in past years, but in the Washington Pavilion’s Mary Sommervold Hall. Sievers said the venue fits more people than the EMC over six performances combined, so more people will be able to attend than in past years.
Not only will more people be attending, but more will also be participating. According to Sievers, three times more students were invited to perform, including members of the choirs, brass choir, percussion ensemble, orchestra and theatre company.
However, the involvement of more groups makes it hard to find a time to rehearse together, according to music department chair Scott Johnson. Johnson is this year’s creative consultant and collaborator for Varieties, and said that each group will practice individually until the Friday before the performance; then the whole cast will rehearse for four hours.
“It really requires a tremendous amount of faith in each other,” Johnson said of the “hands off” approach.
Despite the difficult task of rehearsing separately, Weber, who is choreographing and singing in this year’s show, called working with current students “an absolute delight.” This especially includes reconnecting with students he taught when they were in high school.
“Working with the kids made me feel like I was 20 again,” Weber said.
One of his “East High kids,” sophomore theater major Ian Curtis, is a member of a Temptations cover group for this year’s show. Although he is not in high school anymore, Curtis said Weber is still teaching him–but in a different setting.
“Working with [Weber] now is different in that he’s not really my director anymore, but he’s still in that kind of position of leadership,” Curtis said.
He also said he enjoys listening to Weber’s “interesting facts about his history” at Augustana, and Weber admits that he is “as sappy as they come” when talking about his time as a Viking.
“I loved my time at Augie. I still do,” Weber said. “When you are finished here, you are not done.”
Coronation, all-class reunion firstname.lastname@example.org
Students and alumni can all expect to see some changes to the Viking Days traditions this year.
One change to the week’s events is the location for coronation.
“We have amazing spaces on campus, and we thought Viking days would be a great time to use the new baseball field,” senior Viking Days co-chair Emily Grandprey said.
Another one of the larger changes to the homecoming events is the new all-class reunion.
“For the past few years, we had heard from alumni, especially young alumni, that it was difficult to make it to their reunions because we were holding them on Friday night, and they couldn’t get back to Sioux Falls in time for the reunion event,” director of alumni relations Mary Toso said.
This year, instead of hosting separate reunions for each class celebrating milestone years, as was done in the past, Augustana will host a one-night, all-class reunion. The reunion will take place at the Washington Pavilion in accordance with the 60th anniversary Viking Varieties show.
“We were able to secure the Washington Pavilion for homecoming weekend, and then plans began to come together,” Toso said.
In addition to the all-class reunion, the class of 1958 has its own special celebration to Viking Days. Members of the graduating class have organized a Varieties-like talent show of members celebrating their 55th class reunion.
Other changes to Viking Days events include a modified parade route. For the past few years the parade circled campus, but this year the route has been shortened.
“The thought was to give the parade more life with more people in one area and more school spirit,” senior Viking Day co-chair Shelby Kontz said.
The parade will run on Grange Avenue from 28th Street to 33rd Street. The route intentionally ends near the football field, so spectators can begin to rally for the game, according to Kontz.
“We’d also heard from alumni that the parade was too long,” assistant director of communications Katie Foutz said. “I know they’ve had some adjustments to the lineup.”
Though the changes to the parade route and class reunion came from the Augustana administration, the student Viking Days committee has also changed parts of homecoming week.
“One major change this year is we have extended Viking Days,” senior Viking Days co-chair Emily Grandprey said. “Homecoming will actually start Friday, Oct. 11 and continue through Saturday, Oct. 20.”
Grandprey and Kontz also decided to plan homecoming around the theme of “Viking Days.”
“We wanted to make homecoming exactly what it’s supposed to be about: celebrating current students, alumni and faculty,” Kontz said. “We wanted to celebrate blue and gold, and exactly why it is a ‘great day to be a Viking.’”