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Hello Choreography, Goodbye Marching

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Very well stated post. I am too a "dinosaur" since I have been around the activity since 1975. I will state that I love Broadway (most musicals). However, I see where I am not able to appreciate certain styles as much as before. Perhaps it is a program design issue. I used to purchase all of the seasons DVDs and individual corps cds. I seldom do this anymore.

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DCI was my exposure to great music back in the day. Growing up were there was only R&B or Gospel, I found many classical and jazz songs and artist that I love. In the last decade or so its been few and far between. When I think of drum corps I don't thinnk or want braodway. I can go to a braodway show if I want that, I want drum corps with a variety of music in each show and people running all over the field and guard doing crazy tosses.

Now you get stories in the music that really are usually a strecth. I was taught if you can't explain something in one sentence then you don't understand the concept or its a bad concept. I don't see many one sentence shows out there.

I'm not really a dinosaur but I am old school.

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I think the Blue Devils are absolutely amazing this year. I wouldn't like other groups to try to copy them, though, because nobody else could do what they do that well. There are a lot of good designers these days, but the folks at BD are on their own level.

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OK I'll throw my 2 cents in. I'm kind of in a position where I marched BITD..yes wayyyyy back but still teach in WC now..to the Original Poster..I hear ya and know exactly how you feel..BUT..this isn't anything new, props, theme shows, dancing, etc etc has been going on since the late 70s early 80s...cadets had a theme back in the early 70s..Maybe it's more of everything now BUT this didn't just happen. Hell, I don't remember even doing a color pre since the mid or early 70s..When I look at old videos of some of the greats I still can get a chill and have very fond memories but that doesn't diminish at all the extreme talent and productions these kids put on now. Even with the evolution of Staging, there have always been corps doing some crazy xxx drill and I suspect there will still be...It's nothing like the files, squads, etc etc we did back then,,,Is it our drum, corps. I say it is, just high speed and a 2012 version..why would it be a 1972 version?

Today I want to see 12 different things in finals, not everyone forced to do color pre's, high legs lifts, a certain tempo. ( remember that? )I don't get a lot of people from my own generation who I marched with sometimes. I myself am proud to say we paved the way for the kids of today and if it weren't for us changing things BITD, bucking the system, we wouldn't have what we do today, in fact I bet the entire activity would be gone. Maybe it's because Im still involved. Do I like everything?, of course not , but I didn't like everything back in the 70s either,,, why should I like everything. I would never expect that.

For me I don't have to know everyone's story , as long as Im entertained ( subjective )and for many I am..not everyone is entertained by the same things either.

The original post ( for you ) you mentioned , less marching, more dancing moving props , rolling around on the ground, this isn't anything new at all.

Also band people involved didnt make the changes you say were made, and it was long before the 90s..WE, drum corps people ( especially visual people) went to teach bands because there was lots of money there if you were good, we changed things in band programs then came back with people from that world....

You mentioned alot about the history according to you which was great and well said BUT I have to ask you....AND?

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Great, thought provoking, post. I'll be honest and say the Blue Devils was not my cup of tea (nor most of those in attendance at DCI South - even from old-school BD fans the collective reaction was "What the heck was that!?!").

That being said do I think there is a place for that type of show? Absolutely. The question becomes "How do you judge shows that are so disparate in theme, style, and substance?" For instance, how do you take a Jersey Surf show which apparently constantly entertains, with a Madison Scouts with a bit more "traditional" show, with the Cadets whose theme is ever-present while still incorporating newish twists (e.g., recorded voice), with Blue Devils who decided to create their own rule-book this year in terms of what a show is (more Cirque du Soleil event than traditional drum corps show)?

On the other hand, is this any different from what's been going on through the 80s when DCI found its stride? I remember reading an article in the Wall Street Journal, of all places, about drum corps. Even the author was able to pigeonhole corps by their style at that time (BD - jazz, Phantom - classical, Cadets - precision marching). Are the latest iterations of style and content so much different from what was the case back then? How did we compare a show based on Coltrane to Aaron Copeland to Mussorgsky? Does it produce more difficulty or the same level in terms of comparing the relative achievements of each corps now versus then?

Not sure I can answer the questions. I'll still go to shows as long as there are corps to put them on and cheer like crazy for the ones I love (and still get frustrated with the apparent inability of judges to fairly evaluate them). This year for me it's the Scouts, Phantom, and Crown. While the variabilty in applying judging standards must frustrate the crud out of corps directors as they pick show material (and trust me, Hopkins is frustrated if you get his tour updates), it ultimately comes down to who the corps is and what they want to do that year. Our job is to cheer our favorites and debate endlessly who's "best" each year and not worry too much about the results of subjectively judged events. It's like I tell the kids I coach in baseball - "If you want certainty of results go into accounting."

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Interesting post! What's funny is that for all the ways that BD is innovative, many of the things that bother people most about their show aren't things that BD's design staff introduced to the activity. I don't associate props in drum corps with BD, for example, because other corps did that first, and some time ago. BD certainly didn't invent scatter drill, or even drum corps theatricality. And other corps started adding a lot of body to their shows before BD did. When BD started using amped voice, other corps were doing it at the same time; and if un-mic'ed singing counts as voice, then even corps like Boston one-upped BD on that front.

In a way, BD isn't really leading the design curve in terms of pushing the activity in a different direction with singular, unique design innovations. They've simply become a sophisticated composite of previous innovations that have been around for some time. For that reason, I would guess that the activity isn't going to become "more like" BD. If anything, BD might be becoming "more like" the rest of the activity, doing what's long been available to them. The difference is that they're doing it much more excessively than it's been done before, and the other difference is that they're often winning.

I don't know yet that their success with the weird shows will give incentive to follow suit. If 'Spartacus' and 'Between A & D' are any indication, probably not. But of course the activity will never be what it once was. It's definitely going in some direction that isn't what it was in the 80s and 70s. That's the same as anything else. I'm not convinced, though, that BD's direction is explicitly where the entire activity is going.

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I don't have an issue with the body stuff, but too often it feels forced, especially in drum breaks...like people are fulfilling their compulsory items to get a score.

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I definitely think that DCI missed the boat in their new so-called fan-friendly judging system. IMHO most fans (and not just "dinosaurs") believe that a well-executed and innovative marching show should be rewarded more than a show with less marching that uses props to literally prop-up their visual effectiveness. I agree that we are really getting away from our roots by doing this --- we still call ourselves drum corps, right?

You don't have to look any farther than the Olympics to see that in international sports that difficulty is essential in achieving a good score. In gymnastics, for example, you start with a maximum score based on difficulty, and then you are judged on how well you execute it. Yes, you can add to your score for unique artistic moves as well --- but it is secondary to difficulty and execution.

I'm not saying by any means that I want to see artistic growth stunted in drum corps, but we shouldn't be getting further and further away from what makes this activity really special --- great brass, percussion and MARCHING!

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