Photos by Ralph Freso / Slideshow
The combat-styled Syndicate team, coached and choreographed by Isabaelle Aff, took home the winning trophy at Tuesday's "Hunger Games"-themed Lip Sync Battle in GCU Arena.
It was Aff's fourth consecutive win in what is one of the year's biggest student-led Grand Canyon University events – an event full of jaw-dropping performances, sensational costumes, mind-blowing choreography and some lip syncing, of course.
The crowd went crazy, an explosion of confetti rained down, and the stage shook as Syndicate accepted the trophy at the annual Lip Sync, hosted by the Canyon Activities Board.
“A lot of hard work has paid off. I am very thankful for this team, for the joy and blessing it has been to work with them. Our coaches are the best. All glory to God,” team captain Micah Willis said breathlessly, just moments after the win.
The team had been preparing its routine, packed with stomping, stunts, falling and flying, for months. Thanks to hourlong practices, the performers pulled off building human pyramids by climbing on each other's shoulders, which had the crowd screaming in loud chants.
“The secret is to keep it light-hearted, putting on a performance and making it something that includes the audience,” shared Aff.
Added Christian Juhl, team coach and previous Lip Sync winner, “This is a silly, goofy competition. It’s important to just have fun up there."
The team members showed that they knew how to have fun, dancing to girl-classic songs by Katy Perry and Taylor Swift, and grooving to tunes from the "Barbie" movie.
No major GCU event happens without students waiting in line for hours, sometimes days, before. Campus walkways were crowded with tables, chairs and blankets, with the line starting at the Quad and looping all the way down Lopes Way.
Sophomore Naomi Thomas watched the show front and center after getting in line at 7 a.m. the day before the event to secure a front-row seat.
“We had a schedule we made in Google Sheets where we put in our availability so we could coordinate with classes and make sure someone was present in line at all times,” Thomas said.
Sophomore Evan McKee also made sure to get a good spot in GCU Arena.
“I got in line yesterday afternoon," McKee said. "Being in the front row is totally worth the wait, because now I have the perfect view of the teams."
Several of those teams paid tribute to the "Barbie" movie, which took over the world this summer.
Kenergy, in Barbie mode, kicked off the show donning pink dresses, leg warmers, sparkles and shimmers, while the team BARBZ caused another pink explosion with its remake of the film and song mashup.
All-women team Girls Aren’t Funny broke the pink trend, swarming the stage in white and red costumes, getting its head in the game by performing to songs from "High School Musical" and "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" by Tears for Fears.
Instead of referencing "Barbie," Lip Sync team Scripted commented on the NFL by re-creating Rihanna's recent Super Bowl half-time performance with its own Rihanna making an appearance. The Treble Threat’s Barden Bellas owned the stage with the best hits from another film, "Pitch Perfect," which inspired the crowd to wave their flashlights to their final song. Another team, Riot!, shook the stage with tough hip-hop moves, and the Final Project showed how school cliques of nerds, theatre kids, goth kids and populars just want to have fun.
The crowd got louder every time a performer was tossed into the air, summersaulting over fellow performers, or just stomping perfectly to the beat of the songs.
However, the odds were not in everyone’s favor.
Moments before the winner was announced, in typical "Hunger Games" fashion, five fallen teams, or "tributes," were honored.
Girls Aren’t Funny, Syndicate and BARBZ remained as the finalists, but at the end of the night, only one got to take the Lip Sync trophy home.
Syndicate broke away from all the Barbies and Kens and took home the title of champion.
“I went to Lip Sync my first year at GCU and thought, ‘There is no way I would ever do that.’ Now I am the captain of a team,” Willis said before the event.
He's also a reigning champion now, as well.
GCU's staff writer Izabela Fogarasi can be reached at [email protected].