First Lt. Sarah Ruzzin transforms from a lyrical dancer to a 'nerdy' dancer during her dance performance at the 2012 Air Force Worldwide Talent Search at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, Jan. 15. Ruzzin, who is from Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., won first place for dance during the competition, which took place Jan. 9-16. (U.S. Air Force photo/Chris Burch)
Tech. Sgt. Michael Menges, of the 33rd Fighter Wing, won second place in the technical category of last month's Air Force Worldwide Talent Search, a Tops In Blue talent competition. He was also selected as one of the lighting and sound technicians in the upcoming Tops in Blue tour. He begins his 11-month tour with the program in March. (U.S. Air Force photo/Chris Burch)
2/2/2012 - EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- From 90 other Airmen, two Eglin entertainers were selected last month in the annual Air Force Worldwide Talent Search, a Tops-In-Blue talent-selection competition.
The Air Force Research Lab's 1st Lt. Sarah Ruzzin won first place in the dance competition and the 33rd Fighter Wing's Tech. Sgt. Michael Menges, took second place in the technical competition.
Besides being the best of the best in their respective categories, the competition allows Airmen to compete for spots on the Tops in Blue team, the Air Force's premier entertainment group. The selections are announced Feb. 10. Menges, a lighting and audio technician, has already been selected. He begins his tour 11-month tour in March.
"I am totally blessed to be selected to compete and honored to be selected to tour with them in 2012," said Menges, who's worked with live show equipment for seven years. He began at local church and advanced to lighting and audio on stage productions.
For Ruzzin, it's a waiting game until the 10th. She's been waiting for the chance for more than two years.
"My audition tape was accepted (two years ago), but I decided to finish my master's degree before trying to go on tour," said Ruzzin who's been dancing since age 4.
The Airmen were chosen after a week of auditions, rehearsals and interviews, which culminated in three nights of competition in front of an audience. The best performer took home the "Roger" award for first place and the second place winner received the "Wilco" award.
Ruzzin took the "Roger" for her choreography to "Beautiful" and "White and Nerdy." She said that dancing meant everything to her."
"You can do a contemporary routine with a lot of meaning, or just a really fun, high energy hip hop to rock it out on the floor," she said. "It's so versatile and there are so many different styles to learn and see."
If selected she'll also learn what happens behind the stage.
According to Tops in Blue, every member of the team are in essence their own "road crew". Under the guidance of five technical personnel (including Menges), the performing team is responsible for setting up over 60,000 pounds of staging, lighting, audio, video and special effects equipment required for each performance.
"Until 2005, I didn't know what went on behind the scenes at most concerts and events," said Menges. "Now I fully understand the hard work and dedication it takes to make a show a success. I plan to continue that dedication in Tops in Blue and exemplify all standards for the Air Force."
The same day Ruzzin finds out if she makes the group, the Tops in Blue show arrives here for a performance, Feb. 10 at 7 p.m. at the Emerald Coast Conference Center, on Okaloosa Island, Fla.