In 1973, Mt. Zion was introduced to its new all-girl swing choir consisting of 9 members. That year, Roberta Vest stepped into the scene as a graduate of Millikin University. Unsure of exactly what a swing choir was, she described her first year as a learning experience. Teach music wasn't difficult for her, but learning about choreographing a swing choir - putting the steps to music posed a challenge.
Roberta said she lacked dance experience, so she enlisted the help of others who knew dance steps. Darlene Wittenauer of Decatur and former member of the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes was recruited to help with choreographing the group.
At the end of Roberta's second year, some boys asked to try out for the group. She thought they were just kidding. Eighteen boys showed up for auditions, after some encouragement from fellow classmate Doug Karl. The addition of males to an all-female group brought a new dimension to the Mt. Zion swing choir.
In 1977, Dwight Jordan, Mt. Zion's instrumental director approached Roberta about adding a combo. Soon afterward, the swing choir had a combo consisting of trumpets, percussion, and a bass guitar. With the addition of boys and a combo, giving the group a name became a priority. The name became the Mt. Zion Swingsations.
Dwight Jordan began choreographing the group and ultimately moved on to the national arena while retaining his role as choreographer for the Swingsations. Connie Mulligan (Director), joined by Cyndi Johnson (Assistant Director), continued the tradition of success begun by Roberta upon Roberta's retirement in 1995.
Under Connie Mulligan's direction, the Swingsations took Grand Champion at Chicago Showstoppers in 1995. In 1999, Swingsations received Grand Champion at Terpsichore in Chicago.
After the 1999-2000 school year, Directors Connie Mulligan and Cyndi Johnson moved on. In the fall of 2000, Jeff Gemar accepted the position of Director, leaving his former choir and band responsibilities in Mitchell, SD. That same year, Heather Pistorius (alumni) returned to Mt. Zion as Assistant Director and continued through the end of the 2001-2002 school year.
Their first competition season had a shaky beginning with a 5th place finish in Onalaska. However, the choir pulled it together and ended the 2000-2001 season with Grand Champion honors at Showstoppers in Orlando.
Carla Moebius joined the Swingsations in the 2002-2003 season as Assitant Director, and Combo member while the group enjoyed a successful year with 3 Grand Champion titles.
The success continued in the 2003-2004 season as the group was awarded Grand Champion 3 times. This included the Grand Champion title along with a sweep of awards at the Show Choir National Competition in Nashville.
Laura Marcotte joined the Swingsations in the 2004-2005 season, replacing Carla Moebius who left to pursue her master's degree. This season promises to be as exciting and successful as previous years have been!
In what has now become a relatively long history in the show choir field of competition, the Swingsations have enjoyed a tremendous amount of success and notoriety as a trendsetter in the show choir circles. Each year, the Swingsations raise the standard for high energy choreography, challenging vocals, dynamic visual effects while bringing miles of smiles and tons of fun to the stage. Backed by the strong support of the Swingsations parents and Mt. Zion community, the Swingsations will continue competing and performing for the community for years to come.