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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


September 6, 2003 - Issue 95


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Staging a Showstopper


2003 Army Soldier ShowSIERRA VISTA -- It's a long road trip -- 110 performances at more than 50 sites.

For Spc. McKenzie Quint, the time spent entertaining people is the ultimate reward for a soldier.

The Fort Huachuca soldier was one of 17 cast members who made it through the grueling audition process to be part of the 2003 Army Soldier Show.

"It's rewarding, both as a person and as a soldier," Quint said after the opening show Thursday night at the Buena Performing Arts Center.

Like all the performers, she not only has to be on stage, she has to help put up the trusses and sets and take them down after the last performance in an area. For Quint and her fellow members of this year's soldier show local, their local shows end today.

Quint, who is assigned to the Raymond W. Bliss Health Center as a mental health specialist, was on and off stage during the performance, changing costumes for each part of the show.

Just getting the show ready meant two months of rehearsals before the first public appearance on the road in May, she said.

While most of the performances are in the United States, the cast has performed in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and will go to South Korea in September, Quint said.

Quint, who calls Fort Collins, Colo., home, said her family has seen the show at Colorado Springs.

She has been on the stage since a young age. She has performed in high school and community theater musical productions. Before joining the Army, she attended Colorado State University, where she majored in music production.

Special friendships develop among the cast members and support team, Quint said.

And, no, she doesn't have to use her training as a mental health specialist.

"We all help each other," she said, as a huge smile broke out on her face.

The theme of this year's fast-paced, non-stop 90-minute show is "Legacy."

The show opens with Sgt. Ryan Murphy, a Signal Corps soldier from Fort Belvoir, Va., portraying Irving Berlin, the man credited with being the founder of today's soldier show. Berlin, a sergeant during World War I, is a composer of American popular songs, such as "God Bless America" and "White Christmas." Berlin developed shows by soldiers for soldiers in 1917.

The cast slowly grew on stage until all the performers were present in Army uniforms from World War I to now. In one segment of the opening, the soldiers did a co-ed dance routine like the Rockettes of New York.

The show went through the musical styles of the United States.

LaMeta Benford said this is the first time she has seen a Soldier Show.

"It was excellent. The talent was great. They exhibited awesome abilities," she said.

Her son, James, said the part he liked the most was the hoop dance.

Spc. Clifton Falcon Hall, whose veins run with the blood of three tribes -- Yakima, Picuris Pueblo and Ho-Chunk, did the American Indian dance. Hall, who is an armor crewman at Fort Irwin, Calif., said he was nervous doing the dance, which used 13 hoops.

A third-generation hoop dancer, Hall said that knowing his mother was in audience was a little nerve-wracking for him.

To the audience, his solo performance using the hoops to create symbolic eagle wings, baskets and other devices drew applause throughout his performance and long, loud clapping at the end.

After the show, Hall met up with his mother.

Lorintha Umtuch traveled to Sierra Vista from the Phoenix area. The tribal judge for the Fort Lowell Yavapai Tribe said performing is in the family's blood.

Hall's father was a hoop dancer and performed at Disneyland. Umtuch said she also was a performer at Disneyland's Indian Village.

As for her son's performance, she made a circle with her thumb and index finger, holding the three other digits up -- the symbol that Hall did well.

The soldiers gave a slight sigh of reliefs, knowing the toughest person in the audience was going to be his mom.

Col. Susan Browning, chief of staff of the Intelligence Center and Fort Huachuca, addressed the audience at the end of the show.

"I'm awestruck to be on stage with these soldiers," she said.

The show was a performance of the spirit of the United States, which is what soldiers are doing throughout the world to bring freedom to others, Browning said.

The spirit came to Sierra Vista from White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico and after tonight's performance it heads to Las Vegas, Nev., continuing its six-month tour that ends in November.

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  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.  

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