A couple thoughts after being incredibly eager to see what the Mandarins would follow up last year’s break out show with.
First & foremost, this is an incredibly fresh idea. This is not a theme that any nationally-known outdoor marching unit, DCI or BOA, has explored: what happens to the sacrificial virgin in Rite of Spring after she dances herself to death. I feel like I know my independent indoor groups, both guard & percussion, pretty well, and no one rings a bell as having used this in a gym before either. So....kudos to the design team for something so simple to understand & yet so unique.
I feel like there is a lot to explore here while still leaving plenty of room for the trademark energy that the corps sufficiently branded themselves with last year. Most importantly, the initial announcement screams for conceptual depth....something we’re not used to seeing from this corps. Combining last year’s intensity with seems to be a more challenging concept/deeperdesign and all my chips are in.
My only point of hesitation: as mentioned above, the source music was not discussed, other than the statement that Rite of Spring will not be used. I do hope we see the group utilizing more actual source music. It is my opinion that using original (or mostly original) Key Poulan scores will keep a glass ceiling over the corps. Sound of Silence was the musical high point of the show in 2017; the original brass book was mostly unmemorable in comparison. With corps in their tier last year using Husa, Bartok, Gordon Goodwin, Grieg, Wagner, Danny Elfman, Joni Mitchell....eh, Key Poulan just didn’t stack up, and basing their wind book off of more published music last year could really have pushed the group over that final hurdle.
BUT, I digress. This sounds like a huge creative leap for the Mandarins in the form of a startlingly-untouched idea that could make for another memorable show. Throughout the last decade, it seems nearly impossible for up&coming corps to capture show magic in a bottle two years in a row, and this team sounds like they’ve assembled the right ideas to pull it off. I also loved that the designer avoided the usual fluff of just here for an educational experience and flat out said they intend to field a top 10 corps this year. Ballsy, and I would be flat out thrilled to see them achieve that!