DeadLand’s Dance Team Gives Wilson County Fairgoers a Surreal Performance
In addition to the usual funnel cakes and midway thrill rides, visitors to this year’s Wilson County Fair have a chance to experience a different kind of treat. Make your way to the DeadLand booth, and you can preview two new Escape Room games and watch the launch of their DeadLand Dance Team’s 2016 performance, an original production called “Welcome to the Freak Show.”
This is the fourth year for the dance team, which was started in 2013. Coach and choreographer Andrea Edwards says, “We started with 3 people, and it stayed at 3 until last year, when we had 8 people, and THIS year we have 12!”
The team practices around twice a week over the summer, under Edwards’ direction. Of her methodology, she says, “I have a background in cheerleading and theatre, so my dance moves come from me listening to different songs and just getting up and trying different things. I always name the show first, then gather songs based off the name I chose for the show.” This year’s theme, “Welcome to the Freak Show” is based on the Freak Show Dolls section of the DeadLand scream park, which has four chilling attractions–the longstanding Curse and Portal, and the new Crypt and Freak Out Escape Games.
Edwards always combines aspects of Music Drama (acting to music) with dancing and chooses songs that appeal to all generations. “I like there to be a little something for everyone when I come up with these shows,” she says. “Everything from Michael Jackson, MC Hammer, to new aged hip hop. I mix the music by myself also. I come up with makeup and costuming, typically asking dancers their opinions on things because I like everyone to be involved!” She pauses, then adds, “When I said I create the costume and makeup- I mean I come up with the ideas and the makeup artists bring them to life. I do help do the team’s makeup- but I don’t do it all. Temberlie Huff made the costumes I designed. She’s amazing.””
The team had its start in 2012, when the DeadLand actors wanted to learn and perform “Thriller” at the fair, just for fun. They hired a woman to teach them the moves, but the idea fell through. Edwards recalls, “When that didn’t work, Dana had discussed making an official dance team. She knew I had a background in cheerleading and dance so she asked me if I would want to take this on and I agreed to it. Then myself and the 2 girls who were a part of the original team with me kept the team going until we gained more members!”
Asked what she loves about working with the team, Edwards says, “I personally love that it’s DIFFERENT. Not many haunted houses have dance teams. It’s original and so entertaining. The crowd loves it. It has a haunted house feel to it, but isn’t typically scary.”
Of course, the team owes much of its success to haunt owners Dana and Gerald Chapman. “We couldn’t do it without Dana and Gerald and the DeadLand friends,” Edwards says. “They’re all so supportive of our shows each year. My dancers this year are incredible and they made it happen for sure. I always think of crazy ideas and just run with them- this year the team made that happen. It’s a family, the team; and the most fun thing I have ever dedicated my time to.”