Rain forced Regina Silva and members of Gamma Phi Beta and Pi Kappa Phi to seek cover underneath a concrete overhang of the J.D. Morgan Center in Bruin Plaza. They huddled together, waiting as Silva opened their decision letter about performing in Spring Sing.
Silva remained silent, staring at the letter, which for a moment, dance team co-director Michelle Mazzarella inferred as a sign of rejection, Mazzarella said. Suddenly, in a rush of emotion, Silva burst into tears.
After auditioning three times with no success, Silva and some of her Gamma Phi Beta sisters secured a spot performing in Spring Sing.
“Just to work at something for three and a half years and finally the fourth time you get it, there’s just no other feeling like that,” Silva said.
[Read More: Daily Bruin coverage of Spring Sing 2017]
Silva, a fourth-year communication studies student, and Carolyn Rocha, a fourth-year psychobiology student, are the only members of Gamma Phi Beta to have auditioned for Spring Sing all four years with their sorority team.
Silva adopted the role of co-director during her second year while Rocha participated as an experienced dancer, contributing positive spirit in practices. Through years of rejection, the two established emotional ties to the show and formed relationships with the men of Pi Kappa Phi, whom they competed alongside for three years.
Rocha thought Silva was joking when she announced that the team had made it into the competition, she said. The Spring Sing committee released the decisions in sealed envelopes to be picked up at noon during her Spanish class. Rocha sat in lecture, eagerly awaiting a message in the team GroupMe.
Her initial reaction to the celebratory text was disbelief, she said. Rocha asked for a picture of the letter as proof, which was swiftly answered by a selfie of the team members proudly holding the acceptance letter.
While studying abroad in Barcelona, Spain, in November, Silva began collaborating with Ryan Cosgrove of Pi Kappa Phi to write the script for the show, starting months earlier than in previous years. Cosgrove, a third-year political science student, coordinated video chats with Silva, working around the nine-hour time difference to plot the performance.
Mazzarella teamed up with Silva for a second year to create the choreography. While she could not reveal the plot or songs in the show, she said it will include intricate movements such as turns, lifts and 26-member stage formations.
The time commitment, graduation preparation, job searches and medical school applications – combined with the past three years of defeat – led Rocha to question whether she would return for her final year.
“It’s a lot of work to put in and not see the result that you want at the end,” Rocha said.
Silva encouraged Rocha to come to the first practice, where the energetic atmosphere lured her back into the production, she said. Trips to Yogurtland and late nights talking at the Pi Kappa Phi house inevitably bonded the two houses, said fourth-year anthropology student Jennifer Feldis.
Each year the fraternity members bring an upbeat sense of humor, like singing “Raindrops, drop tops” from Migos’ song “Bad and Boujee” every time Silva told them to start a song from the top.
Rocha’s four years of experience were integral at rehearsals; she helped other members learn the choreography and piped up at practices with words of encouragement, Feldis said.
“She tends to come in clutch,” Mazzarella said. “She can sense when people are getting down or frustrated or tired so she always has that instinct of just knowing when to speak up.”
The group will take the Spring Sing stage in front of the secret celebrity judges – ideally Justin Timberlake, Rocha said.
Silva said the performance will go down as one of the most lasting memories of her college years, a sweet reward after three years of rejection.
“It’s something that I’ve always wanted to be a part of and to finally do it our senior year – I couldn’t ask for anything better,” Rocha said. “That’s just icing on the cake to what’s already been an awesome year.”