Kansas City Color Guard Regional Review
February 22, 2012
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By Chris Putnam
The annual Regional sponsored by the Mid Continent Color Guard Association (MCCGA) moved back to Kansas City this year and featured another great lineup of Midwestern color guards. Staley High School played host this year in a new facility with 41 guards competing in Prelims. The competition was fierce among the Scholastic A teams to be one of the 14 Finalists. Likewise, it was a close decision as to which Independent A units made it to the show Saturday night. Once in Finals, the competition turned up a notch higher amongst all the Finalists…
Edwardsville High School (Edwardsville, IL,) (14th 65.6)
When Edwardsville took the floor in their strikingly detailed costumes, the audience knew this unit was going to be unique. The opening rifle soloist followed by the all rifle introduction to the program confirmed that thought and set the stage for a captivating weapon demonstration. From the “in your face” rifle toss up front to the rifle-flag ripple toss sequential in the middle of the program, Edwardsville moved and spun effortlessly. A superbly executed double during the ending ensemble flag statement got a richly deserved response from the crowd, capping a great Finals run.
Eureka High School (Eureka, MO) (13th 67.2)
Life as a Work of Art
Pulling out a floor that instantly looked like an empty picture frame set the stage perfectly for Eureka’s program of bringing art to life. In an activity that so readily defines this concept, Eureka was able to bring their own creative approach featuring painted flags, multi-colored costumes, and voiceovers that reminded us of the power of art. The not-to-miss moment of this show was a strongly staged and choreographed segment with rifles in one corner of the picture frame balanced on the adjacent corner with a flag ensemble. Everything about the performance, and a poignant reminder to us all, was summed up by the final statement of the soundtrack: “Let your life be a work of art.”
Omaha Burke High School (Omaha, NE) (12th 67.7)
A Simple Trio
The first group in Scholastic A Finals set the stage for the evening with a piano keyboard on one side of the floor and portions of a cello and violin on the other side. Burke consistently moved focus around the stage to these three elements on the floor to mirror the trio of instruments in the soundtrack. The piano was the focus for a number of strong dance moments, including a backwards roll to finish off a creative perimeter segment. Rifles using their straps to spin their way into a rifle toss and an ending ensemble flag statement on the piano keyboard made this a program that wasn’t going to be forgotten as the evening unfolded.
Blue Springs South High School (Blue Springs, MO) (11th 67.8)
The Acts of Joy
Blue Springs South focused the audience on the aesthetics of their program - from the beige floor with matching backdrops in the back corner to the costumes with one leg decorated with long, sheer ruffles. The program begins and ends with a soloist and the rest of the guard hidden behind the back drops, but in between that the program was full of big moments. Blue Springs South featured their sabers well, including a “run the gauntlet” moment with a saber soloist running between sabers and flags, capped with a terrific ending solo toss. Green sickles (think rifles shaped like bananas) were used creatively and the exclamation point for the program was the behind the back catch at the end of the ensemble flag statement.
Odessa High School (Odessa, MO) (10th 68.0)
Something Always Brings me Back to You
Using the music of Sara Bareilles’ Gravity, this two time WGI Finalist set their stage with a stark white floor that allowed the blue costumes to radiate off the floor. Starting with saber and building through an all rifle segment, Odessa was able to pull the audience into their emotional and flowing performance. After a flag exchange during a 45 degree toss that led to a superb saber ensemble toss, the guard went to an all rifle segment that at one moment filled the entire floor then just as quickly became a study in density. Odessa finished the program with a perimeter flag ensemble that led to an ending rifle solo toss, capping a moving and technically challenging program.
Coon Rapids High School (Coon Rapids, MO) (9th 68.3)
In the Shadows
The floor was set and the intrigue began. With shadows painted on the floor of blocks, Coon Rapids’ program began with a big rifle toss and never let up. At times, the members would lay down on the shadows on the floor, providing and eerie and strong reference to the program’s title. Using staging that resembled the blocks on the floor, the guard worked through space while staying true to their motif. The program climaxed with grey flags being stripped from the pole to reveal rich, purple silks below and the guard ending at their individual shadow on the floor.
Francis Howell High School (St. Charles, MO) (8th 69.1)
Always a crowd favorite, Francis Howell did not disappoint, again getting the loudest ovation of all the Scholastic A teams in Finals. Set to the music of Rhapsody in Blue, these performers know their character and were the epitome of sassy and playful. But this was no one trick pony, as the sabers and rifles demonstrated with big toss effects performed flawlessly. The middle flag segment featuring oversized blue and silver silks allowed everyone to catch their breath before the high energy ending Francis Howell is always known for. This time, orange flags being exchanged led to a dense ensemble flag statement in a triangle that brought the crowd to its feet.
Lafayette High School (Wildwood, MO) (7th 71.1)
In the middle of a wildly successful season, Lafayette achieved their highest ever finish at this Regional with a program featuring weaving staging that matched the woven look of their floor. Yellows, golds, and bronzes were featured throughout the program to match the upbeat character and mood created by the orchestral music. A mixed rifle-flag ensemble using levels and layers exquisitely gave way to an all rifle segment that demonstrated that these performers can spin as well as they move. A rifle soloist set the stage for the ensemble flag statement that ended with a dramatic 45 degree toss to the back corner – a great ending to a great performance.
Blue Valley West High School (Overland Park, KS) (6th 71.2)
With or Without You
In the middle of a highly competitive neighborhood of guards, Blue Valley West used the music of U2 to demonstrate an array of amazing dance and movement skills. The very modern looking, asymmetrical grey and black costumes allowed the performers to show off creative body shapings and lines throughout the program. Not to be outdone by their movement skills, the weapons featured great moments like the spiraling rifle ripple toss that ended with a catch on one knee. The program ends as it should, with fouettés galore from the members, reminding us that this group will always amaze with how they move.
Kickapoo High School (Springfield, MO) (5th 71.3)
The jewelry store just got robbed and the cops are on the lookout for a color guard wearing black costumes and masks, spinning sabers, rifles, and flags. You might see them jumping over the 3 foot high wall that begins the show in the back, stretching from end to end of their black floor. Kickapoo takes us on the run in their show, jumping over walls that constantly move during the program, but pause long enough for weapon tosses, exchanges, and even cartwheels on top of them. And in the end, the guard not only gets away with the loot, but also the crowd’s thunderous applause.
Union High School JV (Tulsa, OK) (4th 72.5)
Delving into what it means to be isolated from others, Union JV took the crowd on an emotional ride in Finals. The use of boxes spread across the stage gave them a chance to explore levels and textures that supported a strong opening dance segment as well as flag exchanges off the boxes. The color combination of beige, lavenders, and blues was brought to a climactic moment in the end of the program, as the guard flooded the floor for their ensemble flag statement. The crowd was left with the feeling of having been on that emotional roller coaster – excited with the terrific performance of the students, but still pondering the deeper message of what it means to be isolated.
Bellevue West High School (Bellevue, NE) (3rd 72.6)
There is no mistaking the scene when Bellevue West took the floor: 17 bright blue bugs enjoying their day on the leaf of a tree. With a constant use of creepy, crawly body work and gestures, the audience felt like they were watching an exhibit at the zoo – except for the rifles and sabers and flags the bugs would spin with all their might. But, being a bug can be dangerous, like when someone tries to gas them with pesticides! Fortunately, the pesticides only mean they come back to life as ladybugs. With ladybug flags draped over their backs as they crawl back onto their leaf, the flags become an exciting piece of the ensemble flag feature that brought the crowd to its feet.
Washington High School (Washington, MO) (2nd 76.6)
Lessons in Self Confidence
After watching Washington’s stellar performance, one might ask if any of these young women could ever need any help with their self confidence! There were certainly no insecurities the audience could perceive during this performance that used stunning saber choreography and aggressive rifle work to tell their moving story. The ending of the program is set to a solo voice with piano version of Firework, creating a perfect backdrop for the climax of the show – an ensemble flag feature that ended with a flag toss caught in a backbend.
Francis Howell North High School (St. Charles, MO) (1st 88.3)
Through the Branches
Yes, that score is correct. The crowd gave thunderous applause to the 2012 WGI KC Regional Champions when the well deserved score was announced at the end of the night. Francis Howell North gave an amazing performance set to the music of Moonlight Sonata while wearing the most talked about uniforms of the night – black costumes covered in black feathers. The circular floor had the silhouette of a tree painted on it and the guard began and ended the show roosted on their branches. But when they flew, it was with astounding accuracy of flags, rifles, and sabers. This 2009 WGI Finalist has made no mistake that they intend to fly high all season with a program you can’t miss seeing in Dayton.
Panache Winter Guard (Independence, MO) (3rd 68.0)
Performing in Finals at the Kansas City Regional wasn’t an option for this guard when the season started for them in Regional A, but an early season promotion brought them into the Independent A class. And they took full advantage of the opportunity by making Finals for their first time. From the opening dance segment through a dizzying array of weapon and flag moments, Panache was able to pull the audience into their program. The highlight must have been in the middle of the program with the combination of exchanges from rifles to flags that ended with a solo rifle toss that almost hit the ceiling. The sunset flags at the end were dramatic elements of the fantastic ending flag ensemble.
Eclipse Independent (Saint Cloud, MN) (2nd 69.1)
Turning to Stone
Eclipse put the “spark” in sparkle with their costumes this season! Looking much like stone that has a natural sparkle to it, Eclipse used a seemingly endless weaving pattern in their staging that was anything but set in stone. Flags weaved in and out of sabers then rifles moved without stop around the floor until they arrived at the ensemble flag statement. And when they got to the ensemble flag, you could never guess there were only 8 members in this former WGI Finalist guard with how they filled the floor with the silks sharing the pattern of the tarp printed on their flags.
National Avenue (Springfield, MO) (1st 74.0)
Bring Him Peace, Bring Him Joy
Using an instrumental version of Bring Him Home from Les Miserables, National Avenue tugged at the audience’s heartstrings throughout the program. The sensitive partnering of the movement introduction gave way to more motific partnering between flags and rifles as the program evolved into a longing for someone dear to you. From time to time, performers would lay down in a cross on the floor, bringing more meaning to the theme of the show. Finishing the ensemble flag phrase with a toss while laying on the floor led to an ending with the performers spread around the perimeter, looking in to the soloist in the middle of the stage.
Union High School (Tulsa, OK) (1st 69.6)
A Boy and a Girl
Scholastic Open had only one team, but Union High School wasn’t about to let down with their performance. Union’s floor featured a ghostly image of the symbols for man and woman on a stark white background. With continuing lifts and references between their individual male performer and the young women on the stage, the idea of struggles and unions of the two sexes was clear. Never to disappoint, the Union rifles were on the mark in Finals with behind the back and under the leg catches that brought constant cheers from the crowd. The ending flag statement that started in a dense block and then flooded the floor was a highlight of the evening for everyone.
The Pride of Missouri State University (Springfield, MO) (2nd 71.9)
Using 3 different half size floors spread out on the stage, The Pride of MSU unveiled their program based on Da Vinci’s qualities as a renaissance man. The three floors were opened in sequence to reveal Da Vinci’s sketch of a wing, his Vitruvian Man drawing, and an architectural drawing. With voiceovers on top of Architect of the Mind by Kerry Muzzey, there was constant reference to Da Vinci’s process of invention and realization. Multiple weapon exchanges and plenty of high tosses got the crowd cheering as they enjoyed a great performance from this multiple-time WGI Finalist.
MBI (St. Paul, MN) (1st 76.0)
The evening of color guard festivities concluded with MBI’s performance set to the music of Adele’s Turning Tables. Taking the music literally, MBI had raised floors that rotated while performers danced and spun equipment on top of them. These rotating stages were the focal point for a never ending barrage of weapon events and even a saber toss with a cartwheel underneath! To say the crowd was constantly erupting in applause would be an understatement for this performance. The high energy program climaxed with a trio of rifles on the platforms tossing, turning around, and catching on the floor. The only thing to top that was the ensemble flag that followed and brought the 2012 Kansas City Regional to a spectacular and stunning finale.
For many of these groups, this was just one more step towards their goals in local Championships, but for others, the long road to Dayton has just begun. 41 groups came to Kansas City and everyone in the audience had to leave feeling like they got more than they bargained for from these hundreds of young men and women. It was another incredible day of color guard here in the Midwest, one that hopefully propels each of these teams toward their goals this season. Best of luck to each of you in reaching these goals and please travel safely!!