DHS Color Guard Stands Up

DHS Color Guard Stands Up

The DHS colorguard puts everything they have into an after-school practice as they move towards their goal of placing in the top ten at Winter Guard International (WGI).

As they roll out the floor mats in the DMS gym, JV on the left and Varsity on the right, the performers are left to wipe up the wet floor with paper towels taken from the girls bathroom. These paper towels are littered over the mat, along with two trash barrels, throughout the entirety of practice, and, more than once, a performer slips during the hour-long dance move warm-up called “Across the Floors.”

Despite the inconvenience of practicing beneath a leaking roof, the colorguard puts a lot of time and effort into creating their shows. Show Designer Anthony Cabral said, “We put in just as much time as the football team or the basketball team.”

The color guard typically holds two three-hour practices every week and two five-hour practices over the weekend. They have been working on their current show Stand Up since December and have continuously been tweaking the routine in order to impress the judges.

Director Addison Katerale and Cabral worked together to create this year’s concept. They chose the concept of Stand Up based on the skill set of the performers. Their goal is to constantly challenge the kids, and at the same time, give them a concept that they can relate to and grow from. “It’s about standing up for what you believe in,” said Cabral.

Movement Technician Courtney Costello spoke briefly about the physical and emotional energy she tries to pull from the performers. It is all about drawing out that emotion and giving it back to the audience, and the new show is doing just that.

The performers walk onto the mat, their mouths gagged by red cloths. Some carry flags reading “silence” and others toss sabers as they begin dancing with slow, defeated movements.

Every movement is filled with an abundance of emotion that the audience takes on as a heavy burden.

President Obama’s voice fills the gym speaking of gender equality. “The words in the music have so much meaning, and if you really listen, you can feel the hurt in their speeches,” said senior Caitlin Chasse.

The performers then take their turns sitting down in chairs or rising above and standing up for what they believe in.

As the show progresses, Ellen Degeneres’s voice speaks about ending bullying and the performers begin to rip away the cloth gags in inspiring solos. Each performer comes away empowered, now no longer silenced by the symbolic red cloth.

The performers come together mid-show and hug each other, holding each other up and not letting one another feel defeated from the silence. They are working together in perfect unison, becoming stronger with each step. The flags transition from “silence” to bright blues and pinks that light up the floor.

Just as the awe-inspiring message sinks into the audience, a sophomore member sends a chill down the spines of those watching as she exclaims, “I will stand up.” Quickly the rest of the color guard leaves the audience with President John F. Kennedy’s famous quote, “If not me, who? If not now, when?”

The unity of the team as a whole is that of a family. Senior Alyssa Weinstein has been apart of the colorguard since seventh grade and said, “I think it’s something really special. It’s like a second family, coaches included.”

The performers spend many long days together during weekend competitions, leaving early in the morning and often not returning until the next morning. “You get sick of them,” said Chasse, “but you never really get sick of them.”

The relationship the team has reflects in their show as they hold each other up through their struggles. Senior Julie Jerome said, “No matter what, they’re gonna be there for you.”

Senior Co-Captain Aimee Correia is having a hard time with leaving next year. “I try not to think about it,” she said.

With the unity of the guard and the emotion portrayed in the show, it is no surprise that Stand Up has already set the guard on the path to their goal.

On Saturday, February 28, they placed first in the Scholastic A Division of the WGI South Brunswick Regional with a score of 80.28. Scoring is based on equipment, movement, and design analysis, also known as ensemble. “It’s looking good for us,” said Cabral. “It’s about making it to Ohio. It’s a lot of practice.”

None of the performers regret making the commitment to be on this team. Freshman Kasie Le has been a part of the guard since sixth grade and said, “I was really lucky to be a part of this team. Try it out. Stick with it for a little while, and if you do, you get an experience you’ve never had before.”

The guard will be leaving for Ohio to compete in the WGI World Championships on Tuesday, April 14. They will be competing in the Scholastic A Divsion throughout the week and will return on Sunday, April 19.