Parlez-vous… “Movement?”

| October 3, 2008 | 0 Comments

Adjudicator and Movement Instructor Cheryl Myers discusses the importance of an instructor’s knowledge of correct movement technique as it relates to both colorguard and field visuals in the band proper.  Enjoy her whitty start to what is to become a series of articles on the topic!

Each year, I dust off my tape recorders, pull out my digital files, review my totes from the last season, and TRY to decide if I can possibly wear stiletto heels whilst judging field visual.  ON the field. [haven’t tried it yet, but oh, I will, don’t you worry]

And so it goes.

As an adjudicator, it is my job to be prepared, to present my commentary to the best of my ability, and rank and rate the units.  In the midst of preparing to start the fall judging season, I must also prepare myself for the inevitable onslaught I receive from marching band directors and visual staff alike: “I have NO idea of what you are saying out there.  What’s with all the FRENCH?”

No, I’m not swearing [that WAS my Mom’s way of pardoning the occasional verbal indiscretion], what I am doing is recognizing what these individuals have asked their student performers to do.  This includes the band proper, the battery, and even the pit.

It really IS a dance move – I promise

The majority of the movements we ask our students to do when marching, moving or dancing are rooted in ballet.  This is a dicey topic for many marching band personnel, in that the recognition is not always there.  However, if you are asking your students to do the motion, I respectfully submit that you should have some idea as to where that motion is generated, what muscular groups are affected and engaged, and yes, what ballet position or step it is derived from, when applicable.

I regularly make some friends of mine marching senior corps angry when I stubbornly say, “It is NOT the ‘insert Corps name here‘ Sweep, it is a Ronde de Jambe, thankyouverymuch.”

Additionally, in the ever-present lunge we regularly see on the field, it is completely logical for me to reference the extent of involvement of the quadriceps and the degree of turnout from the supporting leg.  Recently in critique, I was asked if I was a biology teacher.  [for the record – not so much].

Know From Whence You Speak – and Dance

What concerns me is not the tongue-in-cheek commentary I sometimes get from instructors, but rather those who have a near adverse reaction to this type of commentary.  I have railed at directors for improperly putting in a plie [The knees MUST remain over the toes or the risk of injury increases exponentially] because they “wanted some body involvement.”  Again, and I know I am repeating myself, but if you are going to ask your students to do the motion, two things must be considered:

1.  Do you know the proper initiation and completion of the movement?

2.  Are you certain it is technically correct?

Yes, rules can be broken and movement can be adjusted and refined and even changed.  Without this, we would not have modern dance or lyrical to the extent we do today.  However, one must KNOW the rules, before one can break them.

Doing just a modicum of research on what you are adding to your repertoire will not only enhance your knowledge of basic [gasp] dance terminology, but aide your students’ performance and excellence throughout the season, and in seasons to come as you build on this choreographic foundation.

Involving the body, especially for the band proper is a quickly expanding part of the repertoire for our students.  However, it is not one you will be successful with, unless you take the time to learn what builds that foundation, where that movement generates, and yes, if it might possibly have a different name …in French.

Stay Tuned!  The Excitement Continues!

I’ll begin introducing and explaining some basic terms often used in marching programs in upcoming articles.  In the interim, The Video Dictionary of Classical Ballet is a wonderful resource on this subject.  It explains the movement, and shows it being executed from several different angles.  I found mine at


Category: Instruction, Movement

About the Author (Author Profile)

Cheryl Myers (aka “The (self-proclaimed) Movement Chick”) is a movement instructor, adjudicator and would-be rockette, living in the Fingerlakes area of New York State. Primary affiliations include the New York Federation of Contest Judges, and the Atlantic Indoor Association. She has most recently worked with Trumansburg High School, and is continually blessed by the opportunity to consult and adjudicate for circuits around the country. In addition to her pageantry career, Ms. Myers works in the accounting and insurance fields, and yes, is great fun at parties, thankyouverymuch. Her primary job, and that which she is most proud of, is raising her two beautiful children, a future dancer and drummer.

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