On Saturday, Feb. 18, the Jabberwocks — the University’s oldest a cappella group — took the stage by storm in the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella Northeast Quarterfinal. On Boston University’s Tsai Performance Center stage, Alden Forbes ’24 was recognized for her work in planning the set’s dance performances with the “Outstanding Choreography Award” and was immediately wrapped into a group embrace.
At the start of their set, the group danced about the stage in slow, sweeping motions and formed a pyramid around first soloist Forbes as she sang the opening song, “Give You Blue” by Allen Stone. The Jabberwocks guided the audience’s attention to Forbes, creating a dynamic image by extending their arms down and away from the pyramid.
Dorrit Corwin ’24, former president and current member of the Jabberwocks, told The Herald that she was “surprised” by this recognition. “We’re singers,” Corwin said. “Most of us don't dance at all.”
Corwin left the stage thinking that her team “killed it vocally” and that their choreography “did the job.”
“It's minimalist,” she added. It “brings the competition back to the roots of singing.”
Forbes, a former ballerina with extensive experience creating choreography, told The Herald that preparing the group’s routine was initially challenging because she is “used to choreographing specifically for dancers.”
“A huge part of this was gauging the group’s skill level and (comfort),” Forbes said. Another challenge was “balancing the necessity for dance moves in the ICCA assignment with showcasing the individual talents and personalities of the group within the set in general,” she added.
Forbes said that she ultimately opted for more modest choreography to highlight what she thinks the group does best: singing and building connections.
“I think that’s actually what set us apart and made us stand out, and it made me more comfortable going into the set and everyone else more comfortable — being able to connect with each other first, and then move into the dancing department,” she said.
Noah Glickman ’23 attended the performance and called the Jabberwocks’ choreography for “October Sky,” the third and final song of their set, “incredibly poignant” and “particularly moving.”
“There was one particular moment where the song was discussing a family photograph,” Glickman said. “And (they) really evoked the nostalgia … (of) little kids sitting on the floor … (with) parents … consoling each other, and I really felt like her choreography evoked that emotion.”
Benjamin Thornton ’24, the group’s music director, reflected on the solemn backstory of “October Sky,” noting that Forbes and the group worked diligently to ensure that they appropriately approached performing a song of grief.
The song, originally written and performed by singer YEBBA, chronicles her experience mourning the suicide of her mother, reflecting on her memories and processing an irreplaceable loss.
Thornton recalled one rehearsal where the group discussed what the song meant to each of them. He said it was “particularly touching to hear people’s connection to themes of loss, whether it be a person or a thing.” Thornton added that while writing the choreography, Forbes drew from each group member’s interpretation of the song to shape the final choreography.
It “was certainly a heavy topic to grapple with as a group,” Thornton said. “I think Alden’s choreography did a really strong job of trying to tell that story of loss.”
“It was just really inspiring and meaningful to hear everyone’s interpretation of what the song meant to them and then to come together and have a shared interpretation,” he added. It “is a really powerful aspect of group performance and a cappella that I think often goes unnoticed … I’m really glad and proud that we tapped into that.”
The group’s choreography for the song featured slow motions of anguish, with members physically leaning on each other for support, collapsing to the ground and kneeling around soloist Christine Alcindor ’25 with extended arms, among several other moves.
Kennedy Waite ’23.5, a group member who was unable to perform due to vocal rest, said that the group’s performance was “phenomenal.”
“I feel like they’re all celebrities,” she said. “I’m just so unbelievably proud.”
Waite added that this performance was a “big deal,” explaining that the competition marked the group’s first time back into the world of competitive collegiate a cappella since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This is our first time as a group doing this,” Waite said, explaining that the current formation of the group “has never competed … so this makes me really excited.”
Correction: A previous version of this article listed the incorrect class year for Alden Forbes. The Herald regrets the error.
Dana Richie is the 133rd Editorial Board's photo chief and a senior staff writer for the University News section. She enjoys using multiple forms of media to capture peoples’ passions, stories and quirks. In her free time, she loves collaging, learning about local history and playing ultimate frisbee.
Sofia Barnett is a University News editor overseeing the faculty and higher education beat. She is a sophomore from Texas studying history, politics and nonfiction writing.