The Blue Devils congratulate Shirley Stratton Dorritie on her induction into the Drum Corps International Hall of Fame. The Blue Devils are very proud of this prestigious recognition of Shirley's many years of accomplishments with the Drum Corps activity. Shirley joins twelve other Blue Devil family members in the DCI Hall of Fame.
Below is Michale Cesario's nomination letter for Shirley ~
I can think of no Visual Designer and Teacher more deserving. Her devotion and commitment to her students, and her contribution to the Drum Corps activity itself have created benchmarks by which we still measure ourselves. There is no one who has changed the face of Drum Corps more completely and more progressively than Shirley.
Over the years, I’ve been fortunate to share a stage, or appear in an article with Shirley, and her grace, artistry, and concern for the performer never falter. It is not just that the young people under her instruction learned so much about life and performance, but that her creative vision for what they could portray on the field allowed them to become so much more than the sum of their training. Shirley put each individual performer in the spotlight. After creating one of the most precise, efficient, and powerful Color Guards to hit the competition field in the late seventies, she threw out the rules and gave each performer a true role to play. Suddenly, beginning in ’81, every young woman in those Blue Devil guards became superstars, brilliant as a team, and mesmerizing as singular personalities. We knew their names. We felt they were our own movie stars, our own supermodels, dancing their way into the very fabric of Drum Corps history.
Longtime collaborator Wayne Downey has said, “From soaring “Wings” to Whoop-di-doos” to “Dance Streamers”, Shirley helped change the landscape of equipment use for DCI Color Guards in the’70’s and ‘80’s “. Each new development was greeted with surprise and awe. Shirley had “done it again”! The beautiful elegance of full body line left military bearing in the dust, ushering in an era of true pageantry and inspiring the entire activity to throw aside the dictates of the past, to breathe, grow, and change. Downey also called her, “A Master Technician and Designer with the foresight and ability to promote the combination of Modern and Jazz dance choreography, with a theatrical twist, along with the finest equipment technique of the day”. The people who know her best, like Pete Emmons and Ralph Hardimon, still sing her praises, calling her work “imaginative”, “groundbreaking”, and “vital”.
For all our concentration on her contribution to all things visual, from the introduction of colors and textures to indicate dramatic mood, to the giant poppies and water dresses for SCV, it is in the role of teacher and counselor that so many remember her. Alumni have praise her “personal concern” and “individual attention” as hallmarks of her instructional style. Ralph Hardimon said it succinctly, “That she has enriched the activity goes without saying, but she has enriched our lives as the kindest, most insightful, and sharing person I have come to know in our beloved activity.”
In the early “boys club” of developing DCI touring Drum and Bugle corps, Shirley broke through with her special combination of creativity and skill, her unique ability to somehow capture both precision and soul , presenting these qualities in an exciting, captivating package. As Pete Emmons has said, “Shirley’s spirit of character and consistent energy has had a major impact on every aspect of the Blue Devils’ success, and the advancement of the entire activity.” Today, she still exemplifies the best of our nature, by helping, coaching and counseling athletes and performers, young and old, as part of her professional practice in psychotherapy.
We are lucky, as friends, competitors, students, and fellow teachers, to have experienced Drum Corps when Shirley took an active hand. Today, her protégés continue to influence some of the best writing and instruction we have.