Taking the Next Step: Adding Lower Body Mid-Season

So, because I need to get a life have an odd fascination with pageantry activities, a few weeks back when I had a Saturday without a show on my calendar, I decided to tag along with a dear friend and watch that evening’s event.  {Yes, I judge for 9 weekends in the fall.  In a row.  Why on EARTH would I want to take a Saturday off?}

When I am “on sheet,” I have an intensely concentrated focus on what I am watching.  To become a spectator is a refreshing change, and, truthfully, it’s a thrill, as I can enjoy things I do NOT get to notice when I am talking at length about my caption’s criteria.

And, here’s the thing.  Catina has been enjoying the opportunity to be a spectator this season as well.

So… When Catina and I discussed our impressions of these events, we are drawing some very similar conclusions.  Thus, you get both of our opinions.

{yay! It’s a two for one! not quite as good as a 2 for 1 shoe sale,

but darn close, and as ever? I digress..}

Today’s topic of discussion?  Colorguard vocabulary.

Here’s the thing.  Guard Staff?  Your kids are out there, and as a designer, you are doing your job.  Providing color, acting as a framework for the band and a visual soundtrack, if you will.

And?  What we are seeing?  Is clean.  And pleasant.  And shows training.

Of the Upper Body.

Folks? We are pretty much seeing the arms manipulating equipment, whilst the lower body takes care of drill and form responsibility.  Which, don’t get us wrong, that is the premise of what we do as color guard in a field band.  But… the tide is turning, trust us on this.  The guard is becoming more and more integrated, and choreography is being attempted which rivals that of an indoor program.

This can be scary, sure.  But, think about it this way:  It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.  It doesn’t have to happen all in one year.  But… each and every time you add a teeny bit of movement responsibility?  It increases the challenge for your performers, and it continues to develop that elusive muscle memory which you are going to be super thankful for come indoor season!  {No indoor season?  Muscle Memory is a good thing, regardless, trust us}

Say your design team has put together a “fun” half-time type show.  Dance Music, Jazz Music, Michael Jackson or Michael Buble, for example.  Now ~ tell us how you would react if that music was playing in your living room. Somehow?  And we may be going out on a limb here, but…we’re guessing marching an 8 to 5 would not so much be your first or second choice.

True story?  Some parts of the country are WAY ahead of others on this.  If your guard is already out there doing pas de chats and tours on the move that is superb.  But, those programs are in the minority when we look at the grand scheme of things.

Mid season is a fabulous time to start incorporating some ‘tweaks to your twirls.’ (Don’t blame Catina for that one~ that was all TMC *grin*)

Don’t wait until next year.  Take on little changes now, and you will be amazed how this can inject a new energy and excitement mid season, and give your performers even greater confidence.

So, now you’re saying to us,

“Ok, CGE Chicks, I have a drill designer and a band director and a woodwinds caption head and a brass guy and a percussion guy and if I make any changes they will all flip out and the post rehearsal meeting will turn into an argument and what’s the big idea?”   ←– longest sentence. Ever.

And we will say to you:  Breathe.  No, really.  Here are some ideas.

  • Start small.  Guard is in a stand still featured form up front?  Add footwork.  No clue on how to add footwork?  Ask the performers. {They LOVE this.  Almost as much as M&M’s}
  • Crazy Insane Drill designer forgot about the flag change likes a wash of color and has your performers sprinting the length of the field in 16 32 counts?  Jazz run with a sauté arabesque is gorgeous in this situation {TMC interjection: train them on the arabesque, pleaseandthankyou}
  • Standstill? In an Arch? Behind the Band?  Oooh, ooh, PERFECT opportunity to take the upper body off center, and explore some spatial range.

Trust us.  When you put on your “dancer’s eyes” and start to look for opportunities to layer and develop and bring some cachet to your team?  They will abound.  And?  Once your band director, drill designer, woodwinds caption head, brass guy, percussion guy…(you get the idea) get over the sudden use of French terms and the soaring accomplishments of your guard?  Bet they’ll ask you to “tweak the band” too.   And for that?  We recommend Ronde de Jambe.

**Caveat Coming** Adding in “fun” doesn’t mean skipping the training which comes with adding lower body.  Make sure the line is correct, the performers understand proper placement and support and all that good stuff.

Then, Have.A.Ball.


Catina and TMC

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Category: Choreography, Design, General, Instruction, Movement, Professional Development, Regular Blog Features, Teaching/Cleaning Routines, The Movement Chick

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. Catina Anderson is the founder/editor of the Color Guard Educators blog. A former teacher and color guard director/coach she has worked with several groups in the Northern VA and MD region (most recently Broad Run High School in Ashburn, VA) and has served as the education director for the Atlantic Indoor Association.

Comments (4)

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  1. Amy says:

    One of the comments that we received at our first two competitions was to add some lower body movement to our show; particularly to the two 32-count sections where we are stationary. Your article helped me break through writers’ block & hopefully we will be better prepared for this Saturday’s competition. Thank you!!

    • That’s great to hear Amy! Thanks for your comment! Those stationary moments are definitely the easiest place to start. And sometimes if writer’s block sets in you can even get the kids involved and start them on their path towards future coaches and choreographers 😉

  2. Olivia says:

    This is a great article! I’m a relatively new instructor (currently in year 5) and this is something we always do mid-season. In addition to pushing the over-all choreography to “the next level” adding lower body work also helps “keep it fresh” for the performers! Let’s be real – these performers have been doing the same routine since July…I’d be bored to! So adding lower body responsibility keeps them on their toes and focused (and keeps them from getting bored or just going through the motions) as we add one or two “new” items each week! Thanks ladies!

    • So great to hear Olivia! Thank you for leaving a comment – it really makes us smile :) And you’re right! It definitely helps keep things fresh and challenging and moving forward for the performers so things don’t get stagnant. Thanks again!

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