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Dance of the Flags

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Dance of the Flags

Winter Guard

Winter Guard

Winter Guard

Aspen Deslongchamps, Lauren Johnson & Emily Teismann, Contributors

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Up and up, then the force of gravity suddenly grabs hold of the flags and sends them plummeting towards the frosty ground, and they’re caught in unison by the warm hands of their bearers. Cheers erupt from the crowd as the amazing performers graciously bow in thanks.

This is Winter Guard.   

As many students know, Winter Guard is awe-inspiring, even to the judges at competitions. They invoke joy and wonder in the audience, who leave feeling satisfied by the experience.

Coaches Chris Grisson, Cameron Bopp, and Leanne Arota work hard toward making Holt’s Winter Guard the very best it can be. They often practice in either Holt’s or Wentzville Middle School’s gym. Practice is already underway and competitions will start in late January. Currently, 32 people are a part of the Winter Guard family.

Each of the 32 has a role. According to Sierra Moore (’19), the different roles consist of dancers, flag-twirlers, rifle bearers, and swinging saber (or sword) holders. For Moore and several others, the most difficult accessory to learn was either the rifle or the saber. “It’s different for everyone,” she said. “But for me, the rifle has been very hard. The saber and the flag are the easiest, because you started out as a freshman with them.”

Students not involved in Winter Guard may wonder what goes on off-season. “Well, there isn’t really an ‘off-season’, per say,” said Moore.  “We get the middle of April to the end of May, with one week of tryouts thrown in there for our ‘off season’. This probably averages out to having one month a year without Guard. The rest of the year, we are practicing and competing for either the winter season or the marching band season. During our break, we are all focused on school and finals, but we still continue to spin and practice new skills on our own.” Many, like Natalie Ginger (’20) and Ashley Shannon (’20), try to take it easy and relax. Some participate in other activities like Ginger who was in the recent musical Holt presented, Beauty and the Beast.

Members also mention never having finished learning their show. Their first performance, being an incomplete and shorter version of their actual show, will be presented as finished at their final competition of the season. According to D’Aundray Calloway (’19), “Our choreography is always changing, so nothing is ever really ‘finished’. As we get better, our choreography becomes more difficult as a way to broaden our range of skill.”  Winter Guard also never performs the same show twice. Everytime a little something is different, which keeps the audience on their toes. Through this hardwork and dedication, Winter Guard has received first place multiple times in the last year and achieved Silver at MCCGA (Mid Continental Color Guard Association) championships. They have even made it to WGI (Winter Guard Internationals) Regionals and won them twice in the past two years.

Now, beware impatient people who want things done quickly! Winter Guard is the complete opposite. For example,  when you order clothes online and it takes one to two weeks to arrive, the same is for Winter Guard. Their performance clothing arrives two weeks to as much as a month before actual competition begins.

Their hair and makeup also takes time, ranging from anywhere around an hour to an hour and a half depending on how elaborate it is. “Even getting into costume can be a three-person job because of difficult zippers and the tightness of the uniform itself, ”Ashley Shannon (’20) said.

But when all is prepared, the lights are shining, and the music playing do all the preparations pay off tenfold. Each performance holds a place in every member’s heart. According to Moore, her favorite show was A Glimmer of Hope, because she loved how it got them out of their comfort bubble to do something darker and not as upbeat.

Shannon mentions that “there are moments in each performance when we make eye contact with each other and that sends a sort of message saying “you’re doing great keep it up” and that always makes any performance a good one. Yeah, we all have bad runs when we drop some form of equipment or mess up but I haven’t had a least favorite performance yet.” 

Heisler describes one performance last winter season that turned out to be her favorite, “My glasses fell off in the middle of the show. I kicked them out of the center of the floor, so no one would step on them. I performed the rest of the show with no glasses and I ended up catching my double turn around (my show demon) for the first time at a competition.”

All in all, students of Holt, and even students everywhere, love to watch the Winter Guard wave their flags, spin their rifles and sabers, and dance their hearts out. Let’s all support the Winter Guard this season by having Indian Pride!   

After all, they say a surprise is in the works… stay tuned!

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