An Aca-Accomplishment

Terp Group’s Virtual Performance Earns First Place in International A Cappella Competition
By Annie Dankelson | Photo courtesy of Faux Paz

Even as COVID-19 caused most harmonies to fall silent, a group of talented Terps still found a way to give a pitch-perfect performance.

Faux Paz, the University of Maryland’s premier all-gender a cappella group, took home the top prize in May’s virtual version of the International Competition of Collegiate A Cappella—the same contest actress Anna Kendrick made famous on the big screen in the first “Pitch Perfect” movie. The achievement by the nine-member crew, which also nabbed outstanding soloist and choreography awards, was not only its best-ever finish, but also the first win for a group from the mid-Atlantic.

“It was sheer willpower and commitment to each other that made this come together,” says Faux Paz President Anna Dziki ’21, who earned the choreography nod.

To adhere with COVID guidelines, groups created videos from home instead of performing in a theater full of fans. So the entire time Faux Paz spent prepping its winning entry, “How Do You Sleep?” originally performed by Sam Smith, members didn’t see each other in person, which made staying in sync a challenge.

The process involved mapping out choreography on Google Slides to show how each member’s clip would combine in “Brady Bunch”-style YouTube squares, creating dance demos and holding tutorials over Zoom, and ordering colored lightbulbs to achieve the desired orange and blue scenes.

Then everyone filed their voice memos and videos and made adjustments—“You need to look at the camera for .2 seconds longer,” Dziki might say—to flawlessly blend when edited together.

After perfecting the video through the quarterfinal, semifinal and wild card rounds, members—all vaccinated—watched the livestreamed awards ceremony together in Dziki’s basement and screamed as their victory was announced. Now Faux Paz holds the No. 3 slot in the A Cappella Archive’s all-time ICCA rankings.


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