Show Changes In San Diego


It’s connections time at Blue Devils camp this week in San Diego. With only three shows during the next two weeks, guard instructors are putting in the final pieces of a revamp of a 2001 show that so far is undefeated.

The first part of the show that color guard caption head Scott Chandler puts in place are a few of what he calls “impact pieces” like the boogie woogie section of this year’s show. Along with that initial design are the things the guard will be doing during the horn and drum line’s standstill portions. “those are the anchors, like markers, I build the show around,” Chandler said.

Next come the transitions; the places where guard members change props, picking up one flag and grabbing another or putting down a saber for a dance segment. But by the second week in July, it’s usually time for connections; choreographing smooth shifts from one part of the show to the other.

For instance, at camp this week, the act of guard members picking up their straw hats at the back of the field will go from being a simple line of dancers marching in a line to grab a hat to a smoothly choreographed piece of work which effectively fits in with the personality of the rest of the show.

Another alteration this week will be the show’s closing, says Jay Murphy, visual designer. “The last four moves will be like we’ve had it on the drawing board all along,” he said. “We just haven’t had time to put it in yet. “

The last half-minute that the audience sees next week will be “more dynamic, more unison work with the whole corps participating in the same idea,” he said.

Both Murphy and Chandler says pacing issues are also on the agenda during the warm days of camp at San Marcos High School out from San Diego. “There will be more texture; the highs will be higher, the lows lower. It will be more contoured,” Chandler said.

“We’ll be working on audience impact issues, making the show more colorful, more eventful, more exciting to the people watching,” Chandler said. “This is some of the hardest stuff, because it’s small things, filling in small things, small logistic, piecemeal things. It’s hard because you have to change muscle memory, and the time frame is more compact; the season is coming to an end.”

So, will what fans see next week be the final version of the 2001 show? Almost, Chandler says. “We have two days (with no performance) in El Paso (where the corps will be in camp next week). That’s where the final things will be put in. After that, it will be just about set.”
An invisible dancer may be the most valuable performer in the Blue Devils color guard this summer.

“I see Gene Kelly in my head throughout this show,” said color guard designer Scott Chandler. “The idea of the show is that of a great musical, showy, vaudeville, but with the difficulty and precision people have come to expect from the Blue Devils. And the movement style is all about Gene Kelly, that’s what the costumes are about, that’s what we are aiming for. “

What does the Kelly style mean to Chandler: “It’s stylistic perfection, with a lot of fun. “

If he sees Kelly in his head, does he see Kelly’s modern incarnation when he watches his guard practice and perform with a critical eye? “In some people,” Chandler laughs. “We’re getting there.”
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