A Strong Spine

Every art form has a spine in which the entire structure of the performance rests. As a color guard performer, there are numerous attributes that rest upon the spine of our art.

These include technique/ skill on three pieces of equipment, technique and skill in dance, and finally, confidence and conviction in performance.

As individuals, we all have our strengths and weaknesses in these areas. When rehearsing, we tend to gravitate or focus on our strengths simply because they are what we are good at and comfortable with. The problem with this approach is that we must possess all of the parts of our spine in order to be truly successful in our craft.

Think of it this way: An actor may have incredible stage presence and the ability to memorize and articulate lines well. However, if he lacks the willingness to play the game of pretend with conviction and passion, his impact on audiences will be significantly diminished. Likewise, a singer may possess an amazing voice with a range of four octaves, yet if he does not have good pitch, his talent is all but useless.

The art of color guard is no different from these examples. In color guard, there are many elements to our art, and we tend to be better at some than at others. You may have the ability to toss a six on hilt while doing pirouette turns underneath it; however, if you are unable to do so in time with the music or are insecure in front of an audience … Yikes! What does this leave you with?! It is simply one aspect of a multidimensional activity. When that saber trick stands alone, it has very little value toward the whole of color guard. An artist cannot excel in only one area of his craft and expect to realize success.

A color guard performer must be committed to constantly mastering every aspect of our art form in order to create a powerful and successful spine.

About the Author

Chris Casteel has been involved in the color guard activity for the past 20 years. She is currently an adjudicator for Drum Corps International, Southern California School Band and Orchestra Association and the Winter Guard Association of Southern California (WGASC); she travels to many other circuits throughout the United States as a guest adjudicator. For the past four years, she has held the position of education coordinator for the WGASC. She has a master’s degree in education and currently teaches middle school language arts.

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