Kilgore College Rangerettes
|Motto||Beauty Knows No Pain|
|Type||Precision dance team|
|Gussie Nell Davis|
The Kilgore College Rangerettes, also known simply as the Rangerettes, are an American dance team from Kilgore College in Kilgore, Texas. The team was created by Gussie Nell Davis in 1939 and debuted on September 12, 1940.
The Rangerettes have performed on four continents, in eleven foreign countries, twenty-three states, and Washington D.C. . They have also performed in 65 Cotton Bowl game halftimes in a row (1951-2015), and they make regular appearances at Dallas Cowboys pre-game and half-time shows, national parades and presidential inaugurations.
The Kilgore College Rangerettes were founded by Gussie Nell Davis, a physical education instructor from Farmersville, Texas who had previously devised an all-girl's high school drum and bugle corps in Greenville, Texas, called the "Flaming Flashes". In 1939, Miss Davis was hired away from Greenville High School by the Kilgore College Dean, Dr. B.E. Masters. Dr. Masters wanted something different than the traditional women's drum and bugle corps; he wanted something new and unique that would primarily increase female enrollment at the college, but would also keep fans in their seats during football half time shows instead of drinking alcohol and brawling under the stands. Opting early to forgo the use of musical instruments, Davis focused her new team on dance and choreography, later naming the group the Rangerettes. The Rangerettes became a success early on despite criticisms of their uniforms featuring skirts above the knee, which by the 1960s had become much shorter. In 1975 the Houston Contemporary Museum of Art honored her for creating a "living form" of art. Davis served as the group's director for forty years, until 1979, and died in 1993.
Directors and choreographers
The Rangerettes' first professional choreographer was Denard Haden, who signed on to work with the group in 1948. He helped to pioneer the dance drill team style used by the Rangerettes and later by other dance teams. Haden retired in 1978 and died in 1983.
The first assistant director of the Rangerettes was former Rangerette Peggy Crowder. Crowder later became Dr. Peggy Crowder Coghlan, Vice-President of Instruction and Chief Academic Officer of Kilgore College. She retired from the school in 1996.
Barbara "Pill" Harmon was the second assistant director.
Deana Bolton Covin was the third assistant director of the Rangerettes from 1972 to 1979, and she became the second director of the Rangerettes when Davis retired in 1979. Covin became very well known for her emphasis on precision, polish, and perfection. She retired in 1993, but continues to play a very active role in the Rangerette Forever Alumni organization.
The second Rangerette choreographer was former Rangerette, Ruth Flynn. Flynn worked with Covin from 1980 to 1984, and directed the Tyler Junior College Apache Belles from September 1985 through May 2012.
Covin's first assistant director was former Rangerette Lieutenant Laura Davis, who was also the third Rangerette choreographer. Davis worked as the assistant director with Flynn and Covin for one year. After Flynn left Kilgore College in 1984, Davis took over choreography in addition to her duties as assistant director.
Covin's next assistant director and choreographer was former Rangerette Lieutenant Dana Blair (née Brown), who would assist Covin from 1986 until her retirement in 1993. After Covin retired, Blair would become the third (and current) director of the Rangerettes. She is the first Rangerette Director to have been a Rangerette herself.
The current assistant director and choreographer of the Rangerettes is former Rangerette Lieutenant Shelley Wayne (née Stoeck) who signed on to work with the Rangerettes in 1993.
Performances and appearances
Below is a complete list of locations and a partial list of major performances.
- Countries - Canada, France, Hong Kong, Ireland, Japan, South Korea, Macao, Romania, Scotland, Singapore, Venezuela
- States - Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin, Washington D.C.
- 1972 Five days in Venezuela
- 1975 Star attraction at the American Fortnight in Hong Kong, Macao, and Korea
- 1977 Fifteen days behind the Iron Curtain in Romania
- Feb 1985 Performed at the Carnival Celebration in Nice, Paris, and Cannes, France
- Feb 1995 Performed at the Carnival Celebration in Nice, Paris, and Cannes, France
- Jan 1996 Invited performers in the Fiesta Bowl Parade in Phoenix, AZ
- Feb 1997 Part of the Chinese New Year celebration in Singapore
- Nov 1998 Invited feature performers in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
- Mar 2000 Honored guests at the Saint Patrick's Day Parade and Lord Mayor's Ball in Dublin, Ireland
- Jan 2001 Traveled to Washington, D.C. as invited guests of the Texas State Society for the inauguration celebration of President George W. Bush. Performed at the Texas Black Tie and Boots Ball, and were one of the first groups down the inaugural parade route.
- Nov 2002 Invited guests in the Field's Jingle Elf Parade in Chicago
- May 2003 Invited guests and feature performers during Indianapolis 500 race week
- Nov 2003 Invited feature performers in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
- Jan 2005 Traveled to Washington, D.C. as invited guests of the Texas State Society for the inauguration celebration of President George W. Bush. Performed at the Texas Black Tie and Boots Ball, and were one of the first groups down the inaugural parade route.
- Jan 2009 Traveled to Washington, D.C. as invited guests of the Texas State Society to perform at the Texas Black Tie and Boots Ball for the inauguration celebration of President Barack Obama.
- Dec 2011 Traveled to Honolulu, Hawaii, as invited guests of the Pearl Harbor Memorial Society 70th Anniversary.
- Jan 2013 Traveled to Washington, D.C. as invited guests of the Texas State Society to perform at the Texas Black Tie and Boots Ball for the inauguration celebration of President Barack Obama.
- Mar 2015 Will travel to Ireland and Scotland to perform in the annual Saint Patrick's Day parade and at a European Football League game halftime.
The Rangerettes have also appeared in media publications such as Newsweek, Esquire, Texas Monthly, and Texas 24/7. They were also featured in the Cinerama movie "Seven Wonders of the World," and have appeared on many major national television programs.
Rangerette Revels is an annual variety show performed at Kilgore College featuring various performances by members of the Kilgore College Rangerettes as well as guest performers. There are typically five showings within the week of the program, with the last show on Saturday night. Rangerette Revels is typically the last performance of the year for the group, and is universally considered by the Rangerettes themselves to be their most important performance of the year. The revenue generated by the shows make it one of Kilgore College's highest grossing events. The last segment of the show is always an extended production kick routine, featuring all of the Rangerettes in the traditional uniform.
Revels started in 1948 as an in-school talent show and fund-raiser called "Ranger Roundup" which took place in the school gymnasium. Davis compiled all the football halftime routines and added the Kilgore College band and twirlers to create a spring time show. As popularity grew, the event migrated to a local football stadium and was called the Rangerette Revue, then later was moved to Dodson Auditorium on the Kilgore College campus where it was given its current name. The shows are usually centered around a theme, filmed, and sold on DVD or Blu-ray via the Rangerette website http://www.Rangerette.com.
Rangerette Revels Themes
|2020||2010 - Backstage Pass||2000 - Yesterday, Today, and Forever||1990 - 50 Years and the Dream Goes On||1980||1970|
|2019||2009 - Revels on the Runway||1999 - The Spirit of Texas||1989 - The Greatest Shows on Earth||1979||1969|
|2018||2008 - Lost in the Library||1998 - Forever a Lady||1988 - Strike Up the Band||1978||1968|
|2017||2007 - Games People Play||1997 - The Times of Your Life||1987 - 5-6-7-8 Dance!||1977||1967|
|2016||2006 - Out of the Box||1996 - Celebrate America||1986 - Carnival||1976||1966|
|2015||2005 - We Are America||1995 - Lights, Camera, Action||1985 - Golden Moments||1975||1965|
|2014 - Get Your Move On||2004 - Let’s Get Real||1994 - The Start of Something Great||1984 - The Stars of Texas||1974||1964|
|2013 - The Rangerette Express||2003 - Glitz, Glamor, and a Touch of Class||1993 - Let Me Entertain You||1983 - Once Upon a Time||1973||1963|
|2012 - Revels for Men||2002 - Live from New York||1992 - A Time for Heroes||1982 - My Favorite Things||1972||1962|
|2011 - Just for Kicks||2001 - Make a Difference||1991 - I Hear Music||1981||1971||1961|
The Rangerette Swingsters are a specialty jazz dance group within the Kilgore College Rangerettes. Rangerettes must audition for the group as freshmen. Being a Swingster is considered an honor by most Rangerettes as they are considered an elite performance group within the Rangerettes.
Rangerette Officers are 2nd year Rangerettes who make up the student leadership of the organization. They are chosen by the directors and an outside panel of judges, with the assistance of their classmates, and are announced at Showoffs, just before the beginning of the fall semester. There are four lieutenants and one captain. The officers' standard uniforms differ from the other Rangerette uniforms in that they are solid white. The officers also wear scarves around their necks; red for lieutenants and blue for the captain.
Rangerette Managers are male members of the Rangerette organization who help with setting up and removing props and stage equipment for Rangerette productions and half-time performances. Managers occasionally participate in performances, traditionally performing a comedic routine during Rangerette Revels. Managers who have an extensive dance background may perform in more traditional dance performances.
Rangerettes Forever is an alumni organization that participates in various support programs for the Kilgore College Rangerettes. Only former Rangerettes who completed both years as Rangerettes may join.
Controversy and criticism
The Rangerettes haven't always escaped controversy. Until the mid-1970s, there had been no African-Americans on the Rangerette line. Miss Davis was quoted as saying that she would be receptive when a qualified candidate tried out. The Rangerettes selected their first black team member, Freddie Goosby Evans, in 1973, and their first black officer in August 2012.
In response to an adaptation of Erwitt's film Beauty Knows No Pain (1971), titled after the Rangerette motto, feminists and other critics expressed dismay at the emphasis on physical attractiveness and rigorous and authoritarian training. The critics charged that the Rangerettes were a troupe of "sexist" and "mindless" "Barbie Dolls," and their activity was inappropriate for college curriculum. Miss Davis countered "that there was nothing wrong in learning self-confidence, discipline, cooperation, and the ability to perform precision dance, along with poise, etiquette, and personal grooming."
The Rangerette organization periodically faces criticism from parents of girls who aren't selected for the team. The most common criticism is the organization's perceived emphasis on physical appearance. The organization insists that Rangerettes are chosen based on their dance and kick abilities, but must also have a properly proportioned appearance in the traditional uniform and other performance costumes.
During the week-long audition process known as pre-training, hopefuls are not allowed to wear make-up, all wear their hair in a pony tail, and all wear the same style clothing while performing in front of the directors and upper-classmen. Compared by many former team members to military basic training, the organization defends its process, believing that pre-training sets all hopefuls on equal footing, shows who has the desired amount of showmanship and dedication necessary, and insures new members are selected solely on their abilities. While the audition process itself is harsh and intimidating, former team members and other supporters are often overheard saying "if they think pre-training is hard, wait until they make the team."
Team members are weighed periodically to insure they are living a healthy life style, and have neither gained, or lost, more weight than is healthy.
In the King of the Hill episode "The Company Man", Hank asks Peggy to wear a Kilgore Rangerette type outfit when they go out to dinner with The Holloways.
In anticipation of the organization's 75th anniversary, filmmaker Chip Hale followed the Rangerettes for a year, creating the documentary Sweethearts of the Gridiron. The film examines the dynamics of the relationships between Blair and Wayne (both former Rangerettes), the returning Rangerettes, and the tryout process for the hopefuls who want to make the team. The documentary is appearing on the film festival circuit during 2015, beginning in January.
- Official Facebook Page
- Youtube halftime performance
- RetteWhiteBlue Rette, White, & Blue Magazine on Facebook
- Sweethearts of the Gridiron: An American Story
- Jeanie R. Stanley, "DAVIS, GUSSIE NELL," Handbook of Texas Online, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fda83, accessed November 25, 2014. Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
- O. Rufus Lovett, Elliott Erwitt, Katy Vine. Kilgore Rangerettes. University of Texas Press, 2008. p. 192. ISBN 978-0-292-71673-5.
- Mary Kaye Coachman (2006). Dance Team / Team spirit!. The Rosen Publishing Group. p. 64. ISBN 978-1-4042-0731-8.
- "Official Rangerette Website". Retrieved 1 March 2010.
- Mary Ellen Hanson (1995). Go! fight! win!: cheerleading in American culture. Popular Press. ISBN 978-0-87972-680-5.
- "Texas Women's University Hall of Fame". Retrieved 7 October 2014.
- "Tyler Junior College Apache Belle Directors". Retrieved 8 October 2014.
- "Spirit of America Productions, About Us". Retrieved 8 October 2014.
- "Kilgore College Rangerettes Director". Retrieved 8 October 2014.
- "Kilgore College Rangerettes Assistant Director". Retrieved 8 October 2014.
- "Kilgore College Rangerette Forevers". Retrieved 8 October 2014.
- "Sweethearts of the Gridiron". Retrieved 8 October 2014.