Catalog Photo Shoot: Day 2!

It’s an exciting day on the set today. We’ve got our first female show choir model, Katelin, in the chair for hair and makeup. This is her second year as a Rivar’s model, and she is excited to be back again this year. Danny, one of our younger male models, is the other model on the schedule today, and he is also a returning model. We’re looking forward to a full day of fun and photography!

Name: Katelin Maradol

Hometown: Micronesia, but I live in Indianapolis, IN now

Favorite pizza topping: Pepperoni

Favorite hobby: I really like to draw and read when it’s raining outside.

What are you most looking forward to about the catalog photo shoot?

It was a lot of fun last year, so I’m looking forward to having just as much fun and having a new experience this year.

What’s your favorite outfit you get to wear for the catalog?

I like the black and silver-sequin dress with the red skirt! It’s definitely my favorite.

When you’re not gracing the pages of the Rivar’s catalog, what do you do?

I’m a sophomore at Park Tudor High School. I’m always either with friends or at home relaxing with my mom and my cat! 

Tell me a fun fact about yourself.

I won a goldfish at the State Fair two and half years ago, and he’s still alive.

Name: Danny O’Connor 

Hometown: Union, KY but now I live in Carmel, IN 

Favorite pizza topping: cheese

Favorite hobby: sleeping

What are you most looking forward to about the catalog photo shoot?

To look good. I guess that’s the whole point anyway!

Day 2 was a shorter day than anticipated, but we are so excited about the outfits (and the wonderful models) from today. Check back tomorrow for more fun updates from the Rivar’s catalog photo shoot!

Catalog Photo Shoot: Day 1!

We’re so excited for the catalog photo shoot this week! We’ll be sharing blog posts EVERY day this week with model profiles and behind-the-scenes photos and updates. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram for updates in real time. We’re excited to share this experience with you!

Kalob was first up for hair and makeup this morning. Our makeup and hair artist, Brenda, has been working with Rivar’s for more than ten years. We couldn’t do this without her!

One of our design team members, Kristen, was with us all day at the photo shoot. She was trimming threads and making last minute touch-ups to the outfits. She had to iron out a few last wrinkles before Devan’s first photo.

Name: Kalob Gossett

Hometown: Muncie, IN

Favorite pizza topping: California Pizza Kitchen with avocado, spinach, tomatoes, bacon

Favorite hobby: anything involving other people

What are you most looking forward to about the catalog photo shoot?

Getting to see the new clothes and dress all fancy! Oh, and bowties. I’m partial to bowties.

What’s your favorite outfit you get to wear for the catalog?

Black blazer with the leather lapels, white dress shirt, and black sequin bowtie. Classic.

When you’re not gracing the pages of the Rivar’s catalog, what do you do?

I work full-time, long-term care and physician recruitment assistant at Suburban Health Organization, and I’m getting my masters in health administration at IUPUI.

Tell me a fun fact about yourself.

I’ve never met anyone that spells their name like me. And I like to eat olives and ice cream together. Not on each other! But simultaneously.

Name: Devan Mackellar

Hometown: Indianapolis, IN

Favorite pizza topping: pineapple

Favorite hobby: playing hockey

What are you most looking forward to about the catalog photo shoot?

Seeing myself in a catalog!

What’s your favorite outfit you get to wear for the catalog?

Navy suit and gold sequin tie!

When you’re not gracing the pages of the Rivar’s catalog, what do you do?

I’m a senior at Lawrence North High School. I golf a lot, and I play hockey. I’m going to Indiana University next year, but I’m not sure what I’m going to study yet.

Tell me a fun fact about yourself.

I’ve played hockey since I was three. Oh, and when I was 10, I made a YouTube video, and it has over 300,000 views.

Name: Rose Wang

Hometown: Carmel, IN

Favorite pizza topping: Pepperoni

Favorite hobby: I like to read, and draw, and dance.

What are you most looking forward to about the catalog photo shoot?

The makeup and the hair! It’s really interesting!

What’s your favorite outfit you get to wear for the catalog?

The black dress with the ruffles on top. That was really cute!

When you’re not gracing the pages of the Rivar’s catalog, what do you do?

I’m a freshman at Carmel High School. I read a lot of mysteries, and I also like funny stories. And I’m in show choir at the high school.

Tell me a fun fact about yourself.

I’ve taken painting lessons for ten years.

Today was a blast! We can’t wait for the rest of the week. See you tomorrow for more behind-the-scenes fun!

How do I dress my show choir for a competition closer?

How do I dress my show choir for a competition closer?

Competition season is on its way, and you have your beautiful opening outfits ordered. Sequins that sparkle, dresses that twirl, and a choir that sounds absolutely fantastic. But something is missing… your second outfit! Many successful show choirs try to put together a competition set that shows off a wide variety of styles and musical genres, and your outfits can help with that. Here are some suggestions for some funky closer outfits to contrast your classic opening look.




You can be edgy and still sparkle on stage in this fabulous new design from Rivar’s. The 2118TUN allows for mixing and matching because the inset and the dress can be designed with different fabrics. The faux leather in this photo contrasts nicely with the Stunning Sequins fabric. Consider using Sassy Sequins as the primary fabric with a coordinating Sparkle Illusion for the inset if you’re going for a more classic tunic. Or if you want to go the opposite direction with your design, Krazy Kat and Electric Rose are both bright and bold prints that will make your ensemble stand out.




2066TUN with ACC-8004 leggings


1091SEP and 2626WPA

Speaking of Krazy Kat… give your choir a fierce closing look with this sassy, colorful animal print. It comes in six different colors, so you can mix and match it with other fabrics as you choose. In the photo on the left, we’ve paired blue/green/turquoise Krazy Kat with black
leggings (which happen to be an in-stock item!). Inthe photo on the right, we’ve used black/purple Krazy Kat for the leggings and faux leather for the 1091SEP top.  Some directors we’ve worked with have paired this fabric with metallic knit or Bem Bem Sequins. Our favorite thing about this fabric? It’s super soft and stretchy, so it’s comfortable AND it can be used for tops or bottoms in an outfit.


partner dancing showchoir performance Westside Middle School

Westside Middle School (Omaha, NE)

We can’t forget about the boys!  With quick-changes, it can be hard to get out of one suit and into another, and we understand that suits can also be pricey competition items. Think about something like a metallic knit t-shirt or collared shirt for your guys. Darker colors like gunmetal, black, and royal are
fantastic options to keep your men looking strong and put-together. Consider pairing these tops with their dress pants from the opening number for an easier quick-change and a less expensive costume.

Putting together a competition set is not an easy task, but we are happy to help your group look fierce and fabulous in their outfits. With so many fabric options and choir costume designs, it’s easy at Rivar’s to make it yours.

What do high school sports and performing arts have in common?

What do high school sports and performing arts have in common?

Cliques are a defining factor of many students’ high school experience. They vary from school to school, but there always seems to be a division between athletics and performing arts. Last week, one of our marketing managers sent us this article about Chicago Cubs rookie Kyle Schwarber and his involvement in high school show choir. After a little more research, I found information about several other professional athletes who were involved in high school performing arts: Danica Patrick, Joe Montana, and Walter Payton, just to name a few. While the physical skills involved in sports and performing arts differ greatly, the professional and social skills share more commonalities than one might think. Both sports and the arts offer opportunities to foster important life skills that carry students far beyond the walls of their high school. Here are four skills that students develop in both sports and performing arts:


Just like football players must work together to score a touchdown, choir members must work together to make a beautiful sound. Harmony doesn’t exist musically (or socially!) unless students work as a group. It’s natural for a football team to have a star player, but he can’t win a game on his own. In choir, there will be soloists and featured performers, but soloists don’t win competitions—choirs do. Understanding how to work on a team is an essential life skill that will carry young adults far beyond high school, and both athletics and performing arts offer plenty of opportunities to develop that particular skill.


Whether it’s a championship basketball game or a show choir competition, everyone likes to win. Winning does not happen without hard work and a lot of it. Both athletes and music students learn very quickly that success does not come easily, and they must put their best foot forward on the stage and the court to be at the top of their game. Sports and music are both competitive fields, and competition offers students motivation to work their absolute hardest, and this development of work ethic and drive will carry them into their college careers, professional endeavors, and personal lives.


As rewarding as winning is, losing also builds character and is an extremely important part of all stages of life. After all, isn’t winning that much more gratifying if you understand how it feels to be on the other side of it? When a basketball team loses a game, they still line up to shake hands or give high-fives to the winning team at the end of a game. When a show choir places lower than they would like to at a competition, that choir’s representatives must keep a positive face on stage during the awards ceremony. While losing can be difficult, it often contributes to a stronger drive following the loss, which plays a role in the future success of the team, the group, and the individual.


High school athletes train for months in their chosen sport to get in the best shape they can and hone the skills that will offer them the best chance at winning. They also work hard to stay healthy so that their bodies are able to perform at the highest level possible. Performing arts students practice their music and choreography for months before performances and competitions so they can perform to their best of their abilities and hopefully win the competition they’re at. These students must take vocal and physical health into consideration as they prepare for their shows. To perfect any skill, one must put forth a lot of time and effort, and high school athletics and performing arts are both great arenas in which to learn this.

The football field and the stage may sit far apart on a high school campus, but both places offer opportunities for students to develop skills that are important during their high school years and in the time after they graduate. Whether a student chooses a high school sport, auditions for the show choir, or has the wonderful chance to participate in both, that student is learning how to be a team player, developing a drive to succeed, understanding how to lose gracefully, and perfecting their chosen skill. When that happens, everybody wins.

How do I design costumes for my show choir competition set?

How do I design costumes for my show choir competition set?

The rehearsals and performances never stop for show choirs! Holiday shows are around the corner, and it’s already time to kick into gear for competition season. For directors that are newer to the show choir competition circuit, designing costumes for a competition set can seem daunting and overwhelming. Here are a few things we suggest that you think about when putting together costumes for your show choir:

  1. A 5, 6, 7—quick-change!

That snug, sequin dress may look fabulous on all of your girls, but if it’s tough to get on, we would recommend choosing something else for a finale outfit. Costumes that require more time and care to put on work well for opening numbers because the performers have more time get them on in the dressing rooms. Costumes that go on (and off if you have more than one costume change) easily are a must for any quick-changes. Stretchy fabrics are great, but if you have a backstage crew helping with costume changes, zippers on less-forgiving fabrics can also work well.

  1. Thematic Inspiration

Are you designing your competition set with a theme in mind? With so many color and fabric choices, you have the option to design costumes that will support your theme. Perhaps you’re looking at music with a fire theme: check out reds, oranges, golds and metallic knits in those colors. 5471335686_5639cb1748Trying out a Broadway theme? Women in classic, floor-length dresses paired with men in a timeless black and white suit will shout that style to everyone in the room. Going for an edgier look to pair with pop and rock hits? Metallic knit, faux leather, bold colors—these are just a few ways to match your outfits with your music. Our account managers are happy to help you design costumes that will make your show choir competition set the best it can be.

  1. Make it memorable (in all the right ways)!

Every show choir wants the judges and the audience to 13849349493_1a14678cc9remember their performance, and your costumes play a major role in that. If you’re sticking with that Broadway theme, think outside of the black-and-white box and maybe choose a color with a little more pop. Consider custom-designing an outfit that isn’t found in our catalog so that your group really makes a statement.* Keep your group’s hair and makeup in mind as well as you put together a memorable look because visuals are about more than the costumes and choreography. Check back in a few months for our special competition blog, where we’ll be covering hair and makeup ideas and tutorials for competition season.


Competition season is an exciting time of year in the show choir community. Let us help you put together costumes that will make a statement and help you sparkle on your way to the top!

*Note: If you are interested in doing a custom design, please contact your account manager as soon as possible or call Rivar’s and we’ll put you with an account manager. The process is a little different from ordering from the catalog. We would be happy to help you with designs and get your performers in one-of-a-kind costumes!

#Nafville2015: Our Top 5 Moments

Beth Slusher, Rivar’s President/CEO, and Jessica Wanek, one of our account executives, represented Rivar’s last week at the 2015 NAfME Conference in Nashville, TN. They had a wonderful time attending the conference, interacting with other supporters of music education, and playing a role in the furthering of music education. Here are some of their favorite moments from the conference:

  1. CMA (Country Music Association) Foundation announced it was giving the Give A Note Foundation a $150,000 grant to fund research about music education programs.

Beth is the President of Give A Note Foundation, and she had a few opportunities to speak at the conference. She was thrilled to announce this major donation from the CMA Foundation: “With our partners at NAfME, Give a Note Foundation will use the CMA grant funds to accomplish great things for music education!  We will be doing research that will help grantors, planners and educators guide their ideas about the next generation of support for music education. “

  1. Monster Mash!

Conference attendees could purchase tickets for this event, the proceeds of which went to Give A Note. Jessica said it was fun to see everyone dressed up in costumes having a ball at the concert.

  1. Beth presented for Give A Note before the opening concert.beth give a note NAfME

With Beth as our President/CEO, we hear a lot about her involvement with Give A Note and how much passion she has for music education. Jessica had never seen Beth present with Give A Note, and she said it was a proud moment for her as a Rivar’s employee to see our company’s executive present with the foundation and represent a cause that is so important to her.

  1. Jessica finally got to meet a long-time customer face-to-face.

We love our customers, and we talk to them a lot, but we hardly ever get to speak with them face-to-face. One of Jessica’s customers, who she has been working with for several years, visited her at the Rivar’s booth. Jessica said it was so fun to finally meet this director and talk to her in person. We hope we can see more of our customers in person at future conferences!

  1. Being the face of Rivar’s was a lot of fun!

Jessica and Beth are two members of a large Rivar’s team, and Jessica said she loved the opportunity to represent Rivar’s at the NAfME conference. Our company is a major proponent of music education in schools, and we are grateful to have had the chance to show our support at this year’s conference. Jessica spent most of her time at the conference at the Rivar’s vendor booth, and she said it was a lot fun to mingle with other people who believe in and support the same causes and ideas that Rivar’s does.

#NafvilNAfME image 1le2015 was a blast, and we are so happy to have been at the conference this year. We hope all of the other attendees had a great time, and we hope to see you the next NAfME conference!

How can I use social media to promote my group?

How can I use social media to promote my group?

In an era of retweets and hashtags, learning how to promote your group and their performances with social media is key. We’ve come up with a few tips to help you use social media to your advantage and get your students involved in promoting their performances.

  • Ask your students to promote shows and performances on their chosen social media outlet.

While Facebook and Twitter are still extremely popular social media outlets, Instagram is proving to be the dominant form of social media for current middle and high school students. Rehearsal photos, behind-the-scenes shots, and action photos from performances are great things to show on Instagram (and Twitter and Facebook) because they allow people outside the group to see what’s going on in your performance group. Maybe think about starting an Instagram account or Facebook page for your group, and give a few students the opportunity to manage the pages. This will get students involved in advertising performances and give them the chance to share the hard work they put into every show.

  • Make a #hashtag to engage the community.

Hashtags are taking over social media! Use them to your advantage by creating one for your group and/or your shows and performances. Hashtags cover multiple social media platforms, so Twitter users, Facebook users, and Instagram users can all utilize the same hashtag to stay connected. When creating a hashtag for a group or performance, simplicity is important. We want to promote creativity in the arts, but make sure your hashtag is simple and short enough for people to use. For example, if your holiday concert is called Holiday Spectacular, considering using #holidayspec instead of the full show title. Twitter allows only 140 characters, and you don’t want the hashtag to take up half the tweet! Consider putting the hashtag in your concert program and on any advertisements you create. Include other hashtags related to your group or performance (i.e. #showchoir, #concertchoir, #orchestra, #band, #musiced) to connect with people who are involved in the same things.

  • Make everything shareable.

Are you selling tickets online? Create links that are Twitter and Instagram friendly. Are you advertising online? Make the ads easy to share and post on social media platforms. Sharing your group and performance should be easy for people at all levels of technology proficiency and on all social media platforms. While your students are primarily using Instagram, chances are that a lot of your audience members are Facebook users. Engage all ages by making things shareable.

Social media is quickly becoming (if it hasn’t already done so!) the primary avenue for advertising and social connections. Instead of allowing it to be the bane of your existence, have fun with it! Your students are using social media constantly, and using social media to help your group will give them a great opportunity to get involved in more than just the music. Can I get a #retweet?

instagram logotwitter logo       FB logo

Stressed about upcoming performances? Let us help!

This time of year is absolutely nuts for a lot of people. You’re handling upcoming performances, we’re trying to get garments made and shipped, and there never seems to be enough time to get everything done. We understand how stressful upcoming performances can be, and we’d like to offer a few suggestions for handling the stress during this crazy time of year.

1. Remember why you chose to become a music teacher in the first place.

When stress takes over in the classroom, try to remember why you chose this career. Why is music education important to you? How does music impact your life and the lives of the students you work with every day? It can be difficult to remember the joy that sparked your desire to choose this career path when performance garments aren’t fitting quite right, the tenors in your choir are struggling with their part, or students are struggling to remember choreography. Take a step back (no really, a step back in time) and remind yourself why you chose this path. Passion and joy led you here, so try to remember why they did.

 2. Drink plenty of water and get some sleep.

This sounds basic (because it is) but it’s so important. This time of year is incredibly demanding physically, mentally, and emotionally, and keeping yourself healthy will allow you to give 100% to your students and your groups’ performances. The show can’t go on without you, so make sure you’re the most hydrated and well-rested version of yourself you can be.

 3. Prioritize.

What is most important to you about your upcoming performance? Is it extra rhinestone buttons, the right character shoes, or a blended choral sound? Determine what is most important to you (it will be different for every director) and put that at the top of your to-do list during your time with your students. Sometimes, there is not enough time to finish every single thing you want to get done. But if you do the important things first, you may be surprised how many other little things you manage to get completed.

 4. Take a minute (or ten!) for yourself during the day.

Whether it’s enjoying your coffee in the morning or listening to your favorite song during a passing period, find some way to decompress during the day so that you can re-focus your energy. When times get stressful in the Rivar’s office, we find that taking a short break to grab a snack, drink some water, or walk around the office can be really helpful. We want to provide the best service we can to our customers, and we need to be focused and energized to do that, just as you do as you’re preparing for a performance.

5. Consider the impact you are having on students.

There’s something very special about working in the arts, particularly in education, because you are providing others with opportunities to grow and develop into wonderful musicians and even more wonderful people. You are having an irrevocable impact on the students you work with every day, something they (and you) may not realize until many years from now. Even though most of the students you work with on a daily basis will not pursue a career in music, the lessons they learn and skills they develop in their music classes will carry them through any career path they choose. Music is powerful, and you are a major part of that experience for young people.

Purdue take 2
University Choir
Purdue University
William Griffel, Director


What type of shoes should my choir wear?

What type of shoes should my choir wear?

There are so many things to think about when putting together a performance. We’ve got your costumes covered, but what about those dancing feet? We’ve decided to expand on an earlier blog post about different shoe options you have when outfitting your performance group. Below you’ll find pros and cons of different styles we’ve looked into (and for some of us, worn!) so that you can pick out the best shoes for your group.

Bloch Splitflex Character Shoe (2 inch heel)

Bloch Splitflex feet

Bloch Splitflex








  • Allows for more foot flexibility and pointed toes
  • Softer material is less likely to cause blisters when the shoes are first worn
  • Stops can be added to the heel and ball of the foot to prevent a) wear and tear on the bottom of the shoes and b) slipping on stage


  • Recommended for women with strong ankles because the split sole doesn’t have as much support for the whole leg
  • Softer material on the sole of the shoe can be more prone to wear and tear depending on the texture of the stage floor
  • Can be more expensive than a typical character shoe

Capezio T-Strap Character Shoe (2 inch heel)

Capezio t-strap feet              Capezio t-strap







  • Fits snuggly on the foot to maximize stability in heels
  • Classic look that goes with any costume style
  • Great shoe for both strong dancers and students new to dance


  • Takes more time to get on and off (not the best shoe if you have shoe quick changes)
  • Can be slippery if the bottoms are not scuffed up

Capezio Manhattan Character Shoe (2.5 inch)

Capezio Manhattan feet   Capezio manhattan


  • Solid heel with more height for a leaner, longer line
  • Ankle strap allows for slipping on and off quickly
  • Classic character shoe look is versatile


  • Taller heel may take more time to get used to than a lower heel
  • Price runs higher than a lower-heeled character shoe

Bloch Character Shoe (1.5 inch)

Bloch 1.5 inch feet  Bloch 1.5 inch heel


  • Lower heel is appropriate for all ages
  • Lower heel is more stable for less-experienced dancers
  • Great for concert choirs, who may be standing in one place for longer periods of time


  • The larger (in terms of square inches) heel could be louder and more clunky on stage
  • Lower heel doesn’t elongate the leg line as much as a higher heel

*SPECIAL NOTE: All women’s character shoes listed above come in both tan and black.


Men’s Capezio Character Shoe

Men's character shoe (Capezio)


  • Structured similarly to a men’s dress shoe, so men adjust easily to the fit
  • More flexible than a typical dress shoe to allow for more dance movement


  • Not a con for this shoe specifically, but in general, there are very few options for men’s character shoes
  • Can be slick on a stage floor if not scuffed up on the bottom


If you’re interested in purchasing any of the above character shoes, check out your local dancewear stores or some of these websites:

We wish you the best of luck in finding the perfect fit for your performance group!