When sophomore Jordan Kelberg arrived at Elon University last year and met fellow sophomore Holland Cogan, they noticed a lack of a performance groups that fit their niches.
“We saw an opportunity to create something because Elon has acapella groups, Elon has a choir, but they didn’t really have anything in between that,” Cogan said.
Unlike acapella groups and traditional choirs, Kelberg and Cogan wanted to go beyond using only vocal ability — they wanted to do choreography as well. They combined those elements and worked toward creating a show choir group.
Elon Muses — Muses for short — is the first organization established of singers, dancers and musicians that focuses on all genres of music, from pop to musical theater. According to Kelberg, Muses’ performances are like musical numbers, but instead of a storyline tying the songs together, they are a showcase of talent.
Kelberg and Cogan first considered starting a show choir in September 2021, but they did not pursue anything seriously until the spring 2022 semester according to Cogan. By May 2022, Elon Muses was born with the help of now-music director and sophomore Jenny Molyneaux.
Kelberg’s introduction to music was through musical theater, an art she’s been exposed to ever since she could walk. She said musical theater was what made her obsessed with performing.
“I think I’m a stronger dancer than I am a singer, but in terms of liking them, any sort of performing I love to do,” Kelberg said. “It doesn’t really matter what it is as long as I’m performing.”
Cogan also started her musical journey with theater, first performing in the fourth grade. Although she mostly focuses on singing, she said she loves performing and all things arts-related.
“I’ve always been drawn to the stage and performing, and I honestly feel the most like myself when I’m performing,” Cogan said. “It just makes me feel alive.”
Fall auditions for the show choir occurred Sept. 1 and 2, according to Elon Muses’ Instagram @elonmuses. After discovering Muses at the organization fair freshman Brooke Gustafson auditioned for the group and said the process was simple and kind.
After auditions, Muses now has 14 performers – Kelberg and Cogan included – who all happen to be women. Despite this, Kelberg said all genders are welcome to be Muses performers. Cogan said more auditions will be held in the spring and no experience is required.
“We are just really looking for strong singers and then we can teach you how to dance,” Cogan said. “If you’re not a singer and you want to help with instrumentals or arrangements, we are also looking for people like that.”
Kelberg noted that the first Elon Muses performance is set to happen in December, with a spring performance in April 2023. As Elon Muses starts holding rehearsals, crafting choreography and arranging songs, Kelberg is looking forward to watching the music happen.
“I’m excited to see what it’s going to look like by the time I’m a senior, to see how many performances we’re going to have under our belt and how big we can grow and maybe even do competitions,” Kelberg said. “It’s all the what-ifs that excite me.”
Cogan said she is excited to see all the friendships that form because of Muses, especially for the freshmen who have found a place within the organization.
“I remember as a freshman, I was just looking for a support circle on campus,” Cogan said. “Now I’m seeing all the freshmen being so excited to take part in this journey with us.”
Gustafson expressed a similar excitement for the future of the group, particularly possible performances and making connections with other Muses performers.
“I can already tell that we’re all going to be really good friends, and I cannot wait for the products that we put out there,” Gustafson said.
With the debut of Elon Muses, Kelberg’s goal is to make Muses a place where theater and music performers can thrive together and feel accepted.
“If I could wave my crystal ball and then come back to Elon, I would really love to see Muses grow into something that stays here as long as it can,” Kelberg said. “I want it to grow and be a safe space for people that love music.”