The first few weeks after your color guard team has learned choreography, the routine is clean and looks awesome. And then the inevitable begins to happen. As time goes by and performers become comfortable in the choreography, it starts to backtrack into something that is definitely not what it used to be.
The problem is not necessarily due to a lack of effort, but more of an individual interpretation, variations in muscle memory, and a general lack of detailing that make the ensemble effort appear sloppy or lacking. Try as you might to work the routine over and over, the inevitable is looming on the horizon. It’s time to clean!
Cleaning routines can be tedious, but there is absolutely no way to get around it. You must check (and double/triple check) every plane, angle, hand, wrist, and elbow relationship to the equipment and the overall body over and over again until everyone on the team has it exactly correct. Cleaning is a necessary evil in color guard, but there are ways to change it up to make it a bit more interesting and fun for everyone.
A cell phone can be a great tool to help you with cleaning your routine. Have half of your team perform the routine to counts while the other half takes several pictures from the front, side, and back of the performance area. Ask the photographers to only take about 10 pictures, so they can think about which parts of the routine they want to focus on. Once the routine has come to its end, bring the performers and photographers together to look over the pictures.
You will be amazed at how powerful still photography is when it comes to exposing individual error or interpretation.
Switch groups and do it as many times as you feel is valuable. This exercise gets the team members involved beyond the basic cleaning block.