Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Color. Guard.

Okay, now what are some of the weird names it's been called in the past? Band Front. Drill Team. Prancers. Flaggers. Twirlers. Auxiliary (like we're an afterthought)...

I prefer Color Guard.

Guard is coded in my DNA. My mother was a majorette and swing flag in a junior drum corps. Hate to admit it, but the first thing I learned to spin (I chafe at the word twirl) was a baton. From there, I experimented with stolen handkerchiefs tied to broken boom sticks or my baton.

Nearly all the kids in my neighborhood marched. I remember watching the neighbor lady hanging gargantuan rectangles of colorful wet fabric on the clothes line. The teen across the street marched from house to house in full uniform selling wrapping paper or crates of fruit "for the band".

My most pivotal memory is watching the Lake-Lehman High School Black Knights marching band perform under the lights at Meyers Stadium in Wilkes-Barre, PA. Aqua silk shimmied and shined under the lights as the guard brought Copland's Appalachian Spring to life. Crazy geometric patterns grew, shrunk and shifted with the music as horns flashed the audience.

Tiny spider legs skittered up my spine. I wouldn't be surprised if I drooled all over myself.

"I must do that." I whispered over and over as white-bucked feet drove like pistons on the turf in perfect time.

When the band marched off the field, I cried. Who wants to watch a stinkin' football game when there's something more magical?

Thirty years later, the sport holds that same magic. Eight years of instructing and five years of judging the Rocky Mountain Color Guard circuit perpetuate the dreams of my six-year-old self.

Seeing the successes of former guard members from my own guard or the circuit fuels my passion for the sport. Watching programs crash to the ground under the machete-like whack from struggling school districts breaks my heart.

I've created Silk, Wood and Steel to raise awareness of this amazing sport and build community across the world.

Sure, you're out to annihilate each other on the floor or field, but out of the competitive venue we need to show our communities the power of this sport of the arts.