ENCORE! Celebrating Success AND Making a Difference

| January 12, 2007 | 0 Comments

ENCORE Participants

  In the spring of 2006, four color guard programs in Loudoun County, Virginia joined together to promote their activity, celebrate successful seasons AND make a difference in the world.  The Broad Run/Heritage Winter Guard hosted the first annual ENCORE showcase of Loudoun County Winter Guards and Percussion Ensembles, April 6th, 2006 in Ashburn, Virginia.  Together with the Winter Guards from Loudoun County High School and Potomac Falls High School they shared their shows with their local community at the height of their seasons AND raised over $600.00 for the Komen National Race for the Cure for Breast Cancer. 


The ENCORE exhibition had several goals.  The first goal was to allow competing ensembles within our county a chance to see and support one another in a non-competitive environment in order to foster a sense of cooperation and sportsmanship between the different schools.  Directors from throughout the county had been working to build this sense of cooperation and sportsmanship in order to help build the activity in our county for several summers through the co-sponsorship of a summer basics camp.  It was through discussions at this camp during the summer of 2005 that instructors discovered they really had not had a chance to see each other’s shows during the prior competitive season.  Between listening to judges’ tapes, reloading equipment trailers, supervision of students and scheduling conflicts it was challenging to find time, especially later in the season, to see each others’ completed shows.  We also felt it would be a great chance for our performers who were getting to know one another and forming friendship during the basics camp to get the chance to see each other’s completed shows at the end of the season. 

            A second goal was to provide a local performance opportunity at the end of the season when shows are typically at their peak.  The local circuit championship (for the Atlantic Indoor Association) in 2006 was held over 6 hours away in Raleigh, North Carolina.  The distance meant that friends and even some close family members would be unable to make the trip and thus unable to see the completed shows that students had worked so hard to build.  It was important to our students and their families that everyone have the chance to see the show at its completion. 

The third and probably largest goal of the ENCORE show was to introduce the local community to winter guard in the hopes that it would aid in recruitment and support for our new but growing activity.  Text Box:  Since the county is relatively large (a potential 45 minute drive between the two schools with the most geographic distance), it was decided that the exhibition would be hosted by a different school each year on a rotating basis so that each school would have the chance to perform in their own neighborhood.  The next challenge was to get the word out about the Showcase and encourage spectators to attend!  After all, if the goal was to introduce the community to winter guard it is important that we attract spectators who may not have been to a winter guard show before.  This led to the incorporation of what is now an integral and most rewarding aspect of the ENCORE Showcase; The Service Challenge.

Text Box: 2006 SERVICE CHALLENGE RESULTS    POTOMAC FALLS GUESTS: $107.00  LOUDOUN VALLEY GUESTS: $170.00  BROAD RUN/HERITAGE GUESTS $311.00  ADDITIONAL DONATIONS $57.00    TOTAL: $645.00!This year’s host ensemble, the Broad Run/Heritage combined winter guard, competed in the 2006 season in the Independent Regional A division with a show dedicated to raising both money and awareness for the Komen National Race for the Cure for breast cancer.  In planning the showcase, they decided that instead of charging admission for spectators they would ask for donations to their Race for the Cure team.  As they brainstormed ways to encourage the participating units to raise money for this cause they quickly discovered this went hand-in-hand with getting the word out and inviting spectators.  They sent each school a set of flyers and a packet of postcard invitations similar to the invitations pictured above (each school’s set of invitations was personalized with their own team photo).  The members of each guard were then asked to distribute the invitations to friends, family, teachers and community members inviting them to our exhibition AND letting them know about our charitable goals.  At the door, each group was given a container and spectators were asked to make their donations into the container of the school whose performers invited them to attend.  At the end of the evening the school bringing in the most donations for the charity was recognized with our Service Challenge Cup of Honor, the only “award” given at this Showcase.  This Trophy cup is a “traveling” award meaning that the school winning the cup one year keeps it for the entire year and then brings it back the next year and passes it on to the next winner.  The Host school participates in the challenge but, due to home field advantage, is not eligible to win the cup.  The first Guard of Honor for our LCPS ENCORE show was the Loudoun Valley High School color guards who brought both their JV and Varsity teams to the exhibition.  They were also the guard that traveled the farthest to attend.

While avoiding all other aspects of direct competition at this event, the service challenge proved to be a very positive competitive experience because regardless of which school took home the Cup of Honor, all of the groups left proud of how they were able to make a difference in their community while enjoying an activity they love.  This friendly competition also encouraged performers to invite as many people as they could – helping us to fulfill our original goal of introducing our activity to the community!  Each year, the host school will have the pleasure of choosing a charity they would like to benefit.


In deciding how the evening would run, we kept our main goals central to all of our decision-making.  A primary goal for the evening was to allow all of the participating units the opportunity to see all of the other units in performance.  Standard warm-up rotations don’t allow for this so it was decided that the largest warm-up time would be during the hour and a half prior to the start of the exhibition.  Groups were scheduled for 15 – 30 minute blocks of time in the 2 gyms where they were allowed to use all equipment, floors and props as well as music if they so wished.  Schools could choose to do their warm-up at the host school or, in the case of close proximity, at their own school.  Then, the amount of time between units was extended to allow time for the group leaving the floor to move their equipment out of the gym (and then return to the stands) and the group entering the floor to set up and do a quick mini-warm-up at that.  Most took less than 2 minutes of warm-up in front of the audience just to make sure they’d thrown a few tosses.  This first-year exhibition was small, however, in future years if show length warrants an intermission, groups performing after the intermission would be allowed warm-up time during the intermission.

As you can imagine, this means that there is more “downtime” between groups.  We filled this downtime by educating our audience about the winter guard activity.  The announcer for the evening took this time to tell the audience about interesting aspects of the winter guard season including a quick explanation of how groups are classed and judged, a discussion of the time and efforts that go into producing a show, a review of each group’s competitive successes and information about the service challenge beneficiary.  Even without this “filler” the audience was more than happy to wait between groups as many had never experienced winter guard before and were interested in the whole process of setting up and removing the large floors and props as well as watching the performers warm-up.

At the end of the evening the seniors from each participating unit were recognized with a small bouquet of roses for what may have been their final high school winter guard performance and for their leadership and contributions to each of their groups.

In the end, this evening was a very enjoyable experience for all involved.  It took relatively little stress in planning and orchestrating this more “laid-back” performance opportunity and, in a non-competitive environment, students, parents, instructional staff and supporters were able to come together to celebrate the growth and successes of each others’ programs, cheer one another on, raise awareness for our activity and raise money for a good cause.  It was truly one of the highlights of my 2006 season!

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Category: Non-Competitive Performances, Performance

About the Author (Author Profile)

Catina Anderson is the founder/editor of the Colorguard Educators blog. Color guard has been part of her life for almost 25 years. She began coaching in 1994 and worked with the Broad Run High School color guard in Northern VA from 1998 until 2010. She has also written for Halftime Magazine and served on the Executive Board of the Atlantic Indoor Association. A former teacher, she enjoys sharing what she has learned and hopes to encourage others to share as well. Together we can create even more positive experiences for performers and help to collectively strengthen marching arts activities worldwide.

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