Tryouts draw large crowd

Todd Vanderwerff

Todd Vanderwerff

A record number of students are trying out for SDSU performing arts groups, while large numbers are interested in the intramural program.

Several leaders of these groups attribute the large numbers of people to record enrollment, while others think it may be because of several special events planned for the groups later this year.


“We’ve got a good class of students here and those are the types of students that go out for these kinds of things,” said Dr. Charles Canaan, director of choral activities at SDSU.

Canaan directs the Statesmen, University Women’s Choir and concert choir. The only group to not see a significant increase in number of people trying out from last year is the Statesmen.

According to Canaan, around 200 people tried out overall. Most of these people were vying for one of the 64 spots in concert choir, but a large number also registered for university women’s choir.

“I was really pleased that we had the turnout we had,” Canaan said.


The rest of the music department is also faring well. The marching band has over 400 students in its ranks–students who will go on to participate in symphonic and concert band at the end of the fall semester.

The only musical groups to not reap the benefits of the arts explosion were the jazz bands. For the second year in a row, the department will have to make two jazz bands into one due to lack of students trying out.

“I don’t know if the students are deciding they don’t have time to be in more than one group or not,” said Dr. Corliss Johnson, director of music and director of the jazz ensembles at SDSU.

According to Johnson, he had been able to have two jazz bands every year for over 20 years until last year. He is unsure what has caused the dropoff.

Johnson said the long-term effects of the large marching band have yet to be felt. The Pride of the Dakotas splits into a symphonic band and concert band for the latter half of the fall semester. From there, students are encouraged, but not required to continue with band into the spring semester. It remains to be seen if those numbers will stay up.


Over in the theater program, Dr. James L. Johnson saw a record 61 people try out for his play “Picnic.”

“It’s the higest number of people (to try out) for a non-musical,” Johnson said.

Musicals have traditionally had more students try out. The musicals tend to attract larger numbers of students because they have larger casts and the music department encourages its students to try out for the musical, Johnson said.

It remains to be seen whether the good fortune the department saw with “Picnic” will translate into large numbers at auditions for the musical “Hello, Dolly!” this Wednesday and Thursday at 7 p.m. in Doner Auditorium.

According to Johnson, part of the reason so many people have tried out is the record number of students on theatre scholarship. Students on scholarship are required to try out for all productions. This year, the program has 47 students on scholarship, the most it has ever had.

Johnson believes some people may have tried out because of being able to performing in the new Performing Arts Center, while some may have been interested due to the fact that Tony-award winning actor Jarrod Emick, who attended SDSU for two years, is returning to appear in “Picnic.”

“I think some people auditioned simply because they wanted to work onstage with Jarrod,” Johnson said.

All three performing arts directors cautioned that the large numbers of people auditioning may be due to special events like the Jarrod Emick performance. The marching band is travelling to Pasadena, Calif., for the Rose Bowl, while the concert choir is travelling to Europe over spring break.

However, when the concert choir last travelled to Europe, the numbers of people trying out didn’t spike much at all and certainly not as much as they did this year.

Intramural sports

In addition, numbers are up for intramurals, an on-campus activity that doesn’t usually offer special trips.

“The numbers are coming in strong and lots of people have been calling in and asking for information,” said Roxy Cook, secretary of intramurals.

While it is a bit early to tell if numbers will be up in every intramural sports, there will be a significantly larger number of football teams playing this year. Ninety-six intramural football teams will be competing.

Football is the only sport for which all paperwork is already finished. Volleyball paperwork will be completed this week.


The cheerleading teams did not see a significantly larger number of people try out, though they did notice a larger number of freshmen and transfer students trying out at football and boys’ basketball cheerleading tryouts last spring.

According to cheerleading coach Kari Westland, the cheerleaders won’t know if there are more people interested in cheerleading until their tryouts for girls’ basketball and wrestling cheerleaders on Sept. 26 in the intramural building at 7 p.m.

Westland encourages those interested in cheerleading to attend the practice sessions that will be held Sept. 23-25 at 7 p.m. in the intramural building.

When asked why they believed numbers were up, all interviewed suggested the record enrollment. Many believed that a significant number of new students were involved in the arts or athletics in high school and wanted to continue with that in college.

“A part of it is that we have a record number of people entering SDSU for the first time,” said Dr. James L. Johnson.