Monday, July 3, 2017

Event Report: The U.S. Air Force Academy Ring Dance – Toasting to Nostalgia, History & Tradition


We recently had the opportunity and honor to again produce the United States Air Force Academy’s Annual Ring Dance for the Class of 2018, a celebration for some of the finest young people in the USA. 

Executive Producer Kristen Rensch enjoyed the May snowstorm in Colorado.
Kristen is no stranger to military aviation. Her father is a nearly 30-year decorated retired veteran and pilot of the U.S. Marine Corp. She spent part of her childhood on military bases, in flight simulators, and watching her father command flight squadrons. With other family members in various branches of the armed forces, and with a personal and professional aviation background herself (just ask her to quickly recite the phonetic alphabet!), there was something nostalgic and downright breathtaking about the Academy campus and this event.

“The Academy grounds are dramatically beautiful, tucked into thousands of acres of western landscape. The scale of the large buildings and structures on campus is deceptive against a backdrop of stunning mountains. I learned while there that the cadet area is one of the largest intact assemblages of modern architecture in the world – and as an event producer, the architecture and design couldn’t help but catch my eye.

The modernist style makes use of glass and aluminum, suggesting the outer skin of an aircraft or spacecraft. And the Chapel – the most recognized landmark – actually houses many chapels of different denominations under one roof so that cadets of all faiths can freely exercise their religion and respect the beliefs of fellow cadets. So historically impressive, the cadet area itself has been designated a National Historic Landmark District.
This year’s Ring Dance theme was “A Blast from the Past”, and retro décor with a nod to military tradition was emphasized. The stage featured a large American Flag backdrop for the DJ, and drape with patriotic bunting and red, white and blue lighting completed the look. A custom 12’ cake was designed for the event."
Kristen reports that in addition to being the tallest cake we’d ever seen, it was delicious too - and as you can imagine, there was a lot of leftover cake!
The Ring Dance is considered the seminal milestone, second only to graduation, in a cadet’s rigorous Academy career, as it marks the passage to their final year on campus and towards their military service careers.
The dance is always held during graduation week – the week before juniors become first-class cadets and seniors.  A seated dinner always precedes the dance, where traditionally the rings are placed in a glass of champagne and caught in the teeth following a toast. The United States Air Force Academy is the only service academy to have had class rings for every class since its founding in 1954, and each class designs its own ring.
Kristen reports: “In addition to being surrounded by the natural beauty and impressive history of the Academy – covered in a mid-May SNOW nonetheless - one of the most spectacular moments for me was the sight of all these vibrant, academically and physically stellar, young men and women celebrating their successes and futures in the prime of their lives with such energy and enthusiasm. Without waxing too philosophical, it was a great reminder to carpe diem.
One of the reasons I love events is helping shape people’s experiential memories of key moments in their lives, and in a very, very small way it was great to have that opportunity to do so with our work on the Ring Dance.”
It was an honor and privilege to again be a part this special event!
A big thanks to Doug Lane, Owner/President - Fastlane Productions.

Happy Independence Day!

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