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Month: April 2018

Color Guard Routines: A Guide on Athleticism

Posted in Blogging

When people think of Color Guard routines, they don’t often associate it with rigorous athletics. However, the truth is it’s just as demanding as a sports event

For a high school student, athleticism is a great way to meet friends and stay in shape.

But when you hear the term ‘athleticism’ you think classic sports such as football and baseball. But several high school activities require a lot of physical stamina, such as color guard.

Color guard involves rigorous physical activity such as marching and dancing.

Color guard members are required to rehearse after school and throughout the summer. Training becomes more intense when the team is expected to perform with the marching band.

If you’re interested in joining the color guard, read on and find out the athleticism of color guard routines.

Warming Up

 

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All workouts start with a warm-up. You stretch, do some cardio, or other movements such as jumping jacks. Well, the same goes for color guard routines.

A typical color guard practice starts with a stretch routine and covering basics of color guard dances, spins, and marches.

color guard routines

These include drop spins, pull-hits on the flag, hand spins, and rifle tosses. These movements seem basic, but they contribute to developing flexibility and strength. Daily use helps prepare your body for the more complex movements.

When you’re new to fitness, you usually spend longer on these movements to prevent injury. This is the same for sports players. You stretch, run laps around the field, and practice drills to warm up.

But as you become used to the warm-up routine, you start to use them less and focus on the main movements.

The same goes for color guard. They train basic warm-ups such as stretches and basic spins. But as they get closer to the big game, they start to work their routine more and their warm-up less.

Flag Spinning

There’s an art to flag spinning that most spectators overlook. This act involves a lot of focus and movement.

The purpose of flag spinning is to represent the school’s colors.

But there are aspects of flag spinning you may not immediately notice. The most important one is flag spinners are moving their flags in choreographed movements to the rhythm of the band.

The choreography involves sharp movements, and even complex movements to spin the flag in unique ways. The flag is also specific to the placement, such as front, back, and against your right or left shoulder.

Flag spinning is harder than it looks. Lots of arm work is involved with spins, so most color guard members report having stronger arms. The flag itself weights about five pounds, and the extra weight helps tone muscles.

Rifle Spinning

Rifles are a unique visionary for the color guard show. And the rifle has an interesting history: the first color guard team performed alongside the military, where they waved the American flag.

This team also had rifles to support the military.

But like the flags, rifles have specific techniques for color guard routines. However, they’re slightly different.

This involves relaxing the shoulders but using the forearms and hands to spin the rifle. As a color guard member becomes more experienced, they can spin the rifle faster.

All of these correlate to developing muscle. You’re not only challenging your arms to support the rifle and spin it after. You’re doing so with muscle isolation from the shoulders.

Tossing the rifle is also a powerful move that uses body strength.

The rifle is exerted through the force form the member’s body. When the rifle comes back down, it does so aggressively. It takes a lot of strength to catch the rifle and do so gracefully, usually while in the middle of a dance routine.

Marching Routine

Color guard members usually use roll step, which is the same marching technique of the drum corps.

This march helps tone leg muscles and uses movement to increase leg strength. The secret to this strengthening comes from the precise movements. They use specific muscles, helping build strength.

When color guard members practice marching routines, they usually take specific practices for this. Their movements aren’t only focused, but so are their feet positioning.

This careful training is why all color guard members march in line and to the same rhythm.

What length is this drill being performed? Think of a football field — yes, across the whole field. Especially when the team is scheduled to practice every day, this movement is a lot on their legs.

Dance Routine

Color guard deals with more than spinning flags and marching. Color guard members are dancing in graceful movements. But dance also builds strength and helps with cardio.

The dance color guard routines use a lot of technique. This technique specifically requires strong rhythm to keep up with the band. To perfect their skill, some color guard teams even work with a professional dance instructor.

Dance also integrates with all of the other routines in color guard. Feet positions matter in dancing like they do with marching and dance routines often involve cross-movements with spinning flags or rifles.

Working on Difficult Skills

No color guard member is perfect, just like how no athlete is perfect.

So what happens when an athlete can’t figure out a certain move? The coach will tell him to continue training. They will either train with him personally or he will train at home.

What if a color guard member struggles with a dance move or a spin? The color guard director will instruct home practice or personal training. The color guard member will either train at home, with the director, or with a team member.

Directors also persuade all members to stretch and practice basic spins at home. Just like how a sports coach advises the team to exercise, run, and practice throws while they’re at home.

Practice Color Guard Routines

The color guard is a popular high school hobby where performers march alongside the band at high school football shows.

But the color guard is more intensive than most people would consider. It’s important for color guard to be considered athleticism with many other high school sports.

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Winter Guard – The Biggest Sport You Never Heard Of

Posted in Blogging

It’s a utilitarian high school gym. There are books and backpacks piled along the walls. The volleyball nets are removed and the basketball hoops are up. On a giant tarp in the middle of the floor, a different activity is underway.

Young men and women in a variety of shorts and tees, or leggings and tanks, are practicing dance moves while music plays on the loudspeaker. Some are twirling and flipping wooden rifles, while others are waving large colored flags.  A few are tossing swords in the air (yes, freaking SWORDS!).

Each individual’s part contributes to the whole. They move around the space together, always aware of what the others are doing, concentrating on their own movements and listening carefully to their coach. Over and over you hear them chant “1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8!”  In five minutes, maybe less, it’s all over. And then they start again, because they can always make it better.

Welcome to winter guard!


So What the Heck Is It?

Winter guard is a dynamic indoor competitive sport, based on traditional color guard, but it has gone way beyond those military roots to become something unique and artistic. Whether it’s a part of a high school or university’s athletic and artistic curriculum, or organized by an independent group, it takes dedication, team work, and passion to create a winning routine. This is why it is called the “Sport of the Arts”.

It’s like a dance version of Glee: winter guard teams compete in regional, national, and international competitions organized by Winter Guard International (WGI), the sport’s governing body. There are also many regional groups (such as Texas Color Guard Circuit) that hosts their own competitions.  While it began in the United States, and is still most popular there, there are now also teams competing in Canada, Great Britain, Korea, Belgium, Holland, Japan, and Africa.

 

Color Guard Roots

WGI Logo

WGI has been around since 1977, and a lot has changed since those early days.  It has left behind its marching band beginnings to become a display of music and dance, wearing matching or coordinating costumes rather than military uniforms, while still using the traditional color guard elements of flags, rifles and sabres, all against the background of creatively designed backdrops and floor tarps.

 

Don’t Tell Them It’s Not Hard Work

Participation in this sport is rewarding, but it’s also hard work. The winter guard team must work in complete unison to present a flawless performance. That takes months of planning, practice, and polishing by dedicated individuals, who have to master a variety of challenging skills before they are ready for a competition.

Dance is the element that ties the performance together. Just as a cheerleading squad must practice basic moves and then complicated routines, or a theater company has to rehearse a song and dance number over and over, a winter guard team works on elementary dance skills and then the performance of a specific routine until it is perfect. Much of the appeal of a winter guard performance is in the team members moving in a synchronized manner, and that means hours of practice in that school gym to get the moves just right.

The Equipment Used

Color guard is famous for its flags, and that element has come inside to winter guard. While early WGI rules required the use of the American Flag, today the teams use brightly colored silks in a variety of designs and sizes to better reflect the tone of the team’s presentation. They could be solid color or patterned, but the selection of the design is only the beginning.

Rifle, Sabre, Pole Rack
RIFLE, SABRE, POLE RACK

The team then spends long hours practicing their flag techniques, so that in performance the audience will see a routine executed with flawless precision. Whether the flags are flipped or swirled all in unison, or in a succession of waves across the space, it is up to each and every team member to play his or her part so that the team acts as one. When it works, it’s like magic!

The military roots of winter guard are represented by the sabres and rifles that are a part of each routine. However, they are far removed from the real thing, becoming props for the performance rather than functioning weapons.

The “rifles” are now wooden models with straps, much lighter than actual weapons, and thus well-suited for complicated spinning routines. Once again, the team members have to develop both their individual rifle-handling skills and the coordination of their movements so that they create the desired picture for their audience. One dropped rifle- or one out of sync with the rest- will affect the whole group. Nobody wants to be that person!

Sabres can be made of metal or plastic, but metal ones are more common. The tips and blades are blunted to increase safety, but otherwise they look like real swords. The balance of a sabre is extremely important, as it will be tossed and twirled with great precision. They are not necessarily used by everyone on the team; they require a higher degree of skill and are usually reserved for the most experienced members. The dazzling display of silver-colored sabres cutting through the air adds excitement to a winter guard performance, and again takes many hours of practice to achieve perfection in execution.

Putting In The Hard Work

So, a winter guard team has been organized, its members selected, hours, days, months of practice have been completed, and it is time for competition. What does that entail?

 

The team travels to the site of the competition in their region. There they will be competing against other teams in their division, depending on whether they are school-affiliated or independent, and on their level of experience and skill. The order of performances is usually determined by a random draw.

The team has only a few minutes to set up for its performance. That means rolling out their tarp to cover the floor, bringing out set pieces, and putting up backdrops. Doing this quickly and effectively takes practice as well. Immediately following the performance, the team must then quickly clear the floor for the next competitors while the stopwatch ticks.

In between, the performance itself is around five minutes in length. This is the culmination of all those months of effort, and every team member is equally responsible for making it the best it can be. The performance is judged on talent, precision, creativity, and horizontal orchestration by a panel of judges. First, second, and third place will be selected in each division. The winners will be able to go on to the World Championship, where over 350 teams compete.

The Color Guard faculty at the Music for All Summer Symposium opened the 2016 Opening Session with an amazing performance.


At the End of the Day

However, success is not just determined by a ribbon. Every winter guard team member gets an important grounding in various athletic and artistic skills. And yes, they have some fun, too in the process. As well, they learn how to work with others in a team, a skill that will help them in school and work for the rest of their lives. This is the true value of membership on a winter guard team.

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What is Baton Twirling – Artistic Twirl

Posted in Blogging

Baton twirling is a sport involving the manipulation of a metal rod with the hands and body to a co-coordinated routine. Competitive Baton Twirling encompasses the manipulation of a metal rod (baton) and the performer’s body to a coordinated program of skills set to music. . It is considered a sport and contains many disciplines such as: 1 Baton Twirling, 2-Baton Twirling, 3-Baton Twirling, Artistic Twirl, Freestyle Twirling, Pair Twirling, Teams and Artistic Group.

There are many varieties of disciplines – including the majorettes who perform at a lower level of difficulty utilizing drill routines while manipulating the baton.  The baton is an instrument constructed of steel with rubber ends similar in consistency to a vehicle tire.  It weighs approximately ½ pound and is anywhere from 18-32 inches in length.  The athlete uses a baton that is sized to the length of their arm from the shoulder to the tip of the fingers.  It is weighted and balanced for air dynamic flow.

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The distinguishing fundamental characteristics are:

  • Handling of the baton instrument to create visual images, pictures and patterns, executed with dexterity, smoothness, fluidity, and speed, both close in and around the body and by releasing the baton into the air.
  • Expression of the body through dance and movement to create a demonstration of strength, flexibility, physical fitness, beauty, aesthetics, and harmony in coordination with the manipulation of the baton.
  • The incorporation of acrobatic movements adapted to baton twirling to create additional elements of risk and excitement.

The discipline requires the simultaneous blending of these fundamental characteristics all set to music, utilizing time and space to display both technical merit and artistic expression in creating a total package for the viewer’s eye.

The origin of Baton twirling is unknown. It may have started in Eastern Europe and Asia at dance festivals where the goers used knives, guns, torches and sticks to twirl with and toss. The “activity” progressed into the armies of some countries which twirled with rifles during marches. When the army was parading, they added a rifle twirler to the front of the marchers. The rifle was then switched for a “mace”. The mace was much larger than the batons of today and imbalanced. They are still used by some marching bands and parades nowadays. The mace barer or “drum major” twirled the baton while leading the army or band. This was very popular in the United States following World War II with the American Legion Bands and the Fireman’s Bands.  In the early part of the century, twirlers were mostly boys and men – because the batons were very heavy.

The maces were altered for easier twirling and now resemble the batons of today. They were given smaller ends of light rubber, made from hollow light metal and balanced to give accuracy to the twirler.  This lead to the involvement of females “majorettes” and the progression of twirling that resulted in the of the lightening and balancing of the baton.  In the late 1930s the “majorette” made her debut,.when band directors decided to increase the audience appeal of the marching band by adding a baton twirler or two. The role became so popular that high school girls all over the country wanted to participate. Shorter, lighter batons continued to developed for the rash of feminine twirlers springing up. Through the ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s, more and more girls became majorettes. The involvement of girls and young women made twirling a more graceful, artistic form of self-expression than it had ever been before.

In the middle of the 1950s incorporated baton twirling associations in the United States began to develop. The associations organized baton competitions on both state and national levels. Two of the largest U.S. associations today are the United States Twirling Association (USTA) and the National Baton Twirling Association (NBTA). Both hold national competitions every year and officiate at competitions at local state and regional levels.

By the 1960’s, twirling the baton evolved from just being “majorettes” who marched with bands and performed at half-time of American football games into a competitive sport in the United States and later began to develop in other parts of the World in the following decades.

While many member countries have their own national organizations, the World Baton Twirling Federation governs the sport of baton twirling on an international level for its member federations.

WBTF History

The increasing popularity of the sport of baton twirling throughout the world brought about the formation of the WORLD BATON TWIRLING FEDERATION (WBTF). An organizational meeting in London, England in 1977 brought together the leaders of the baton twirling organizations from many countries around the world. The founding President of the WBTF was Mr. John Kirkendall, from Ypsilanti, Michigan, USA.

At that meeting, the WBTF was formed to develop, encourage, and standardize the sport. With the spirit of international cooperation which characterized the London meeting, the second meeting was held in the Canary Island in 1978 at which time the By-Laws of the Federation were approved and discussion of international rules of competition were debated by the representatives.

As a prelude to the first World Competition, the WBTF conducted the first World Demonstration of Baton Twirling on March 31, 1979, in the beautiful setting of Piazza San Marco in Venice, Italy. An estimated crowd of 10,000 spectators watched as athletes performed complicated routines with precision and grace.

In October of 1979, the Federation representatives met in Paris, France to finalize all plans for the first WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS OF BATON TWIRLING, bringing together teams of twirlers from ten countries to compete in a spirit of healthy, athletic competition. The United States Twirling Association, Inc. hosted the first World Championships in Seattle, Washington in 1980. Each successive year, one member country has hosted the championships.

Affiliate Membership was established for new and developing countries to allow close affiliation with the Federation before moving up to Provisional Membership, which then allows these new countries additional involvement prior to obtaining full membership status in the Federation. Some of the major accomplishments made over the years include the following:

  • 1991 – the Official WBTF Constitution was signed by 14 member countries with a complete set of By-Laws and Rules and Regulations.
  • The main events at the first World Baton Twirling Championships were Freestyle and Compulsory Moves. Two new events were introduced: Teams (1981) and Pairs (1993). In 2005, a Short Program replaced the Compulsory Moves for the Senior Men and Women’s divisions.
  • New age classifications were introduced for world-class competition to ensure fairness and equality.
  • Provisional Membership and Affiliate Membership were added to encourage growth and participation of new countries.
  • 2005 – The very first International Cup was hosted by the USTA in St. Paul, Minnesota. Events offered at the International Cup are: 1-baton, 2-baton, 3-baton, Team and Group. Age divisions: Junior (12-16); Senior (17-20); Adult (21 and over). Number of participants for Team (6 to 8 members); Group (10 to 20 members). Alternates: maximum 2 for Teams and Groups. The WBTF also introduced a Level A and a Level B for all events to assist new member countries. Guidelines were established for Level B events.
  • International Clinics taught by coaches from around the world are offered to all athletes following world competition.
  • A standardized Judges’ Training Program and Master Exam was established for all WBTF disciplines and events.
  • A standardize Coaches Training Program and certification is available for all coaches.
  • Many member countries have been granted official sports recognition by their National Sports Governing Body and by their National Olympic Committee.
  • Baton Twirling was presented to the public for the first time as a “promotional sport” at the 1993 World Games in The Hague, Netherlands.

The WBTF is committed to the ideals of democracy, fairness, and honesty; its Board of Directors work on long-range projects and oversees specific focus areas. The Technical and Judges’ Committees have standardized the sport of baton twirling through extensive testing and development.

Twirlers, coaches, judges, and parents look to the WBTF World Championships as the epitome of baton twirling excellence.

The World Baton Twirling Record Book, sponsored by Star Line Baton Company Inc. and the WBTF provides photographs, text and complete competition results for previous World Baton Twirling Championships and the International Cup, plus it also provides other articles and history of the WBTF.

We all know that the era of pleated mini-skirts and high-stepping parade marchers as baton twirlers has diminished and that baton twirling has progressed to a physically demanding, world class sport. Baton twirling has developed into a multi-faceted sport for everyone – children, adolescents, and adults. It is a great sport for recreation, school groups, community organizations, and, of course, competition.

But baton twirling is not only a sport – it is also an art. It is an art because it requires style and beauty, and a sport because it combines intense coordination to keep the baton in motion while the body moves in a graceful manner, all the while incorporating dance moves, gymnastic maneuvers, and music interpretation demanding a high level of concentration and physical exertion. In addition, baton twirling promotes sportsmanship and a competitive spirit. Baton twirling as a competitive sport encompasses the physical stamina and agility of gymnastics and dance, the artistic expression and beauty of figure skating and ballet, and the technical skill of all these sports combined.

Baton twirling has truly become a sight to behold – an entertaining and exciting sport to perform and watch. Baton twirling has become a great sport and a great activity for boys and girls, and men and women.

Participating in the sport of competitive baton twirling has given many athletes the change to learn about discipline, perseverance, frustration, uncertainty, pain, victory, even defeat. Baton twirling gives the athlete an opportunity to achieve, to feel a sense of self-esteem and personal accomplishment, and to learn about setting and attaining goals. The World Baton Twirling Championships and International Cup allow our athletes to meet new friends, learn about different cultures, and represent their country in a spirit of patriotism at the most prestigious baton twirling championships with dignity and pride.

The World Baton Twirling Federation is composed of devoted leaders, the friendly baton twirlers, and the most dedicated and supportive parents. Member countries of the WBTF believe in their organization and its ideals. The leaders of the WBTF devote their lives to an acknowledged cause – the growth and development of competitive baton twirling as a recognized sport with the promise of fair competitions for all the athletes. We hope that the sport of baton twirling will expand over all continents, so that one-day, the Sport of Baton Twirling will receive Olympic recognition.

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Baton Rouge Calendar of Events

Posted in Blogging

Baton Rouge has a huge share of Louisiana State’s more than 600 annual festivals. Because of this, tourists continue to flock to Baton Rouge to take part in some of the world’s grandest festivities.

The Baton Rouge calendar of events is filled to the brim. Whatever month a guest decides to go for a visit, he will always find himself getting a taste of some of the city’s famous festivals and other exciting events.

FestForAll is one of the most popular festivals in Baton Rouge. Short for “festival for all”, it holds 30 years of being among the major arts events in Louisiana. First held in 1973, FestForAll is an artistic expression of Baton Rouge’s cultural diversity. Taking place every first weekend of May, it unveils a rich collection of live music, crafts demonstrations, Louisiana cuisine, performing arts, and the Children’s Village.

While FestForAll is considered a must-see happening, it is not the only one to watch out for in Baton Rouge calendar of events. Each month of the year brings along surprise activities for everyone in the family. February or March comes with the one of the city’s premier event known as Mardi Gras, along with Krewe of Mystique Parade, among other celebrations. LSU Livestock and Rodeo also happens in the month of February.

Baton Rouge calendar of events likewise highlights the Jambalaya Jamboree in April, The 4th of July Star-Spangled Celebration and the Bastille Day both happening in July, and the State Fair and the Baton Rouge Blues Fest which both take place in October.

But those are not the only attractions that Baton Rouge has to offer. Summertime also ushers in the Hot Air Balloon Competition. Sports also occupy their places in Baton Rouge calendar of events. The football, track, and basketball competitions of the National College Athletic Association are considered some of the country’s best.

If you want to know more about Baton Rouge calendar of events, the internet has several websites that offer such information. Huge festivities like the above-mentioned and others like the Red Stick Dragon Boat Regatta are enough reasons to troop to Baton Rouge.

The city’s theatre also hosts numerous live productions throughout the year. If you’re interested in the arts, check out Baton Rouge calendar of events for theatre and symphony shows. Dance enthusiasts may also want to see ballroom dancing or dancesport performances. Saturday Night Ballroom (SNB) welcomes audiences.

Get hold of this year’s Baton Rouge calendar of events, plan your trip ahead of time, and experience authentic Baton Rouge culture.

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