The direction of show design: will all follow Bloo?


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A comment during the theatercast yesterday jumped out at me. It was one of the corps design peeps who was in the booth prior to the corps performance. Probably was Dean Westman, but could have been someone else. Not important. The important thing was the almost casual, tossed-off remark, made in the final second before the guys in the booth turned it over to the show on the field, that effective show design requires a costume/uniform that supports that show. In the increasingly intense fight for the 0.00001 of a point that makes a difference somehow in the lives of these kids for the next 70 years of their existence, it becomes critical to come out each year with a look that is specifically, um, tailored to that particular show.

Just the complete casualness of the comment, the of-courseness of it, was a powerful, powerful signal about the state of the art in the activity. He didn't attempt to rationalize it, explain its necessity, or be persuasive. It was just: This is the way it is, cool, huh?

So here we are. Those who seek every ounce of available scoring reward must now give serious consideration to a new wardrobe every season. As if this activity isn't challenging enough to the budgets of the nonprofits that run these corps.

Did I love Bloo's show? Of course. Was I blown away? You bet. Will I want to see it again? Many times. Is it drum and bugle corps? Not really. We are in a time when we have to redefine what is meant by the "marching arts." And really, it's not so much "marching" anyway. It's really, really good and I'm wiling to spend my money to see it and support it for the good of the youth who still derive lifetimes of lessons from it. But I can no longer honestly regard what Bluecoats do as "drum corps." And if the rest of the activity follows Bloo's lead, the same will be true for the rest of DCI.

That's life, I guess. Always changing. In many ways for the better. But as with all change, some good is left behind, too. The only certainty is that fans who are ecstatic today about what Bluecoats are doing will grumble in 20 years about what the Next Big Thing is doing. Change is eternal. Griping about change is eternal. Might as well embrace it and enjoy the ride.

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A comment during the theatercast yesterday jumped out at me. It was one of the corps design peeps who was in the booth prior to the corps performance. Probably was Dean Westman, but could have been so

I certainly hope not. I am very okay with Bloo going in this direction. What I'm not okay with is the rest of the activity following them. Nope, no thank you.

It's funny. Over the years, I've never taken to the Bluecoats. Can't tell you why. Just haven't. 2014 gave me pause to reconsider my ignorance of them. It grabbed me pretty well. My appreciation

My initial reaction the 'Coats show was "man, if this isn't WGI on a football field, what is?" But somehow, as an old fart, I sat there in amazement.

I hope we don't see a copycat syndrome that sometimes we see. I think the style fits 'Coats but can't see someone like Phantom follow suit.

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I don't think it is really that far out from where some others are right now. Bloo is not wearing hats, but Cavaliers and BD have gone to the much more themed costume look as well, in their own way.

The big slides are not a huge departure from the Tilt triangles or the spheres from last year.

Everyone is using electronics and amps to various degrees.

BD has been doing staging for years, and is doing a huge amount of non-marching movement this year.

So, maybe it is not all that radical? Perhaps people are reacting mostly to the spandex shirts and lack of headgear, as that is a much softer look than what they have recently worn.

The activity has been overdue for the more athletic outfits for years. The physical demands now are so tremendous that it just makes sense.

Hats? Don't care.

Slides? Don't care.

Spandex shirts? Don't care.

"Athletic" outfits? You're right -- it makes sense. Therefore, don't care.

Which brings us to electronics. I'm not against electronics. I like my television. I like having lights. I like my stereo. I like my electric furnace, and not having to trudge through the snow on a -20 degree night to grab frozen pieces of wood to burn in the fireplace, and not having to wear 3 layers of clothing to bed simply to keep from shivering. AND yes, I do believe in progress. That being said...I'm beginning to see an onslaught of PEE's...the marching version of the athletic world's PED's. I just feel that Performance Enhancing Electronics is lending an artificial nature to what is supposed to be a "live" activity.

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A comment during the theatercast yesterday jumped out at me. It was one of the corps design peeps who was in the booth prior to the corps performance. Probably was Dean Westman, but could have been someone else. Not important. The important thing was the almost casual, tossed-off remark, made in the final second before the guys in the booth turned it over to the show on the field, that effective show design requires a costume/uniform that supports that show. In the increasingly intense fight for the 0.00001 of a point that makes a difference somehow in the lives of these kids for the next 70 years of their existence, it becomes critical to come out each year with a look that is specifically, um, tailored to that particular show.

Just the complete casualness of the comment, the of-courseness of it, was a powerful, powerful signal about the state of the art in the activity. He didn't attempt to rationalize it, explain its necessity, or be persuasive. It was just: This is the way it is, cool, huh?

So here we are. Those who seek every ounce of available scoring reward must now give serious consideration to a new wardrobe every season. As if this activity isn't challenging enough to the budgets of the nonprofits that run these corps.

Did I love Bloo's show? Of course. Was I blown away? You bet. Will I want to see it again? Many times. Is it drum and bugle corps? Not really. We are in a time when we have to redefine what is meant by the "marching arts." And really, it's not so much "marching" anyway. It's really, really good and I'm wiling to spend my money to see it and support it for the good of the youth who still derive lifetimes of lessons from it. But I can no longer honestly regard what Bluecoats do as "drum corps." And if the rest of the activity follows Bloo's lead, the same will be true for the rest of DCI.

That's life, I guess. Always changing. In many ways for the better. But as with all change, some good is left behind, too. The only certainty is that fans who are ecstatic today about what Bluecoats are doing will grumble in 20 years about what the Next Big Thing is doing. Change is eternal. Griping about change is eternal. Might as well embrace it and enjoy the ride.

One, I think you're right. I think it was Dean Westman. And when he said that, my mind immediately went back to one of the concluding scenes in "Hellbent for Victory." He was addressing the Troopers on the morning of semi-finals (I believe). His message (and I'm paraphrasing) was "We do this simply because we love doing it. Go out and spread that love to the audience. If we do that, we win. Put us in 20th...we win. Put us in 16th...we win. It doesn't matter what we score, or where we end up. If we go out and share our love for this activity...we win."

Not sure if this makes any sense. But if I interpret what you're saying (and I totally agree with your point of view), it seems that there has been a certain change of heart even within the directorial community.

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A comment during the theatercast yesterday jumped out at me. It was one of the corps design peeps who was in the booth prior to the corps performance. Probably was Dean Westman, but could have been someone else. Not important. The important thing was the almost casual, tossed-off remark, made in the final second before the guys in the booth turned it over to the show on the field, that effective show design requires a costume/uniform that supports that show. In the increasingly intense fight for the 0.00001 of a point that makes a difference somehow in the lives of these kids for the next 70 years of their existence, it becomes critical to come out each year with a look that is specifically, um, tailored to that particular show.

Just the complete casualness of the comment, the of-courseness of it, was a powerful, powerful signal about the state of the art in the activity. He didn't attempt to rationalize it, explain its necessity, or be persuasive. It was just: This is the way it is, cool, huh?

So here we are. Those who seek every ounce of available scoring reward must now give serious consideration to a new wardrobe every season. As if this activity isn't challenging enough to the budgets of the nonprofits that run these corps.

Did I love Bloo's show? Of course. Was I blown away? You bet. Will I want to see it again? Many times. Is it drum and bugle corps? Not really. We are in a time when we have to redefine what is meant by the "marching arts." And really, it's not so much "marching" anyway. It's really, really good and I'm wiling to spend my money to see it and support it for the good of the youth who still derive lifetimes of lessons from it. But I can no longer honestly regard what Bluecoats do as "drum corps." And if the rest of the activity follows Bloo's lead, the same will be true for the rest of DCI.

That's life, I guess. Always changing. In many ways for the better. But as with all change, some good is left behind, too. The only certainty is that fans who are ecstatic today about what Bluecoats are doing will grumble in 20 years about what the Next Big Thing is doing. Change is eternal. Griping about change is eternal. Might as well embrace it and enjoy the ride.

I have been saying for a while that true costuming will eventually replace traditional uniforms in DCI (note the word "eventually"...it will be a gradual process), and I thought watching the Coats last year that they specifically needed to go that route if they decided to remain cutting edge with their show designs. Their traditional coats and helmets were jarring against the contemporary look and sounds they were presenting. Their choices this year are great, IMO.

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yeah, but it's more than goo. Really, I didn't notice much goo last night. What I heard was a greater range of electronic sounds used throughout wider ranges of the shows. There were moments in . . . . Phantom's? . . . . show where not a soul was playing a note yet there was loud ... music-al...ly stuff coming from the various speakers. It was a transition point: Corps stops playing, computer starts playing, computer stops playing, corps resumes playing.

We have crossed a threshold. It's all very entertaining and wowza, but we are now in a different room.

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Hope not. I love variety!

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Grow up

Aren't you charming. Troll harder.

I'm probably one of the more progressive voices on DCP, a lot of that has to do with my age. I'm all for the modernization of DCI but on two conditions:

1. The diversity and uniqueness of different corps is maintained. I love how there is such a huge diversity in the sound, show design, and identity of corps. It keeps things interesting. I am just as against all corps going in the direction of BD/Cadets/SCV/Phantom/Crown - you name it - as I am of all corps going in the direction of Bloo. Homogenization is a bad thing. It leads to staleness, slowing down of innovation, and groupthink. As a progressive thinker, diversity is important to me both in the people that I interact with in real life, and in the corps that i enjoy.

2. DCI doesn't attempt to become an activity it is not. I don't want to see DCI become WGI + brass. Where is the novelty in that? For the amount of worrying over how many corps are folding, I find it interesting that people are so interested in accelerating the death of DCI by trying to merge it into a completely different activity. It's fine for DCI to be unique. And modernization is possible without completely changing the activity as a whole. Bluecoats have a nice niche going on. And I love them for occupying it, because they only add more diversity to DCI. In ecology, there is something called the "competitive exclusion principle." Its premise is that no two species can occupy the same niche, as one will drive the other to extinction. In order to prevent this, something called niche differentiation occurs in which the species evolve to occupy different niches that allows them to coexist. This is the type of environment that I want to see in DCI.

Maybe a more apt question is "Do you want all corps to start to move in the direction of Corps X?" and my answer would be no.

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yeah, but it's more than goo. Really, I didn't notice much goo last night. What I heard was a greater range of electronic sounds used throughout wider ranges of the shows. There were moments in . . . . Phantom's? . . . . show where not a soul was playing a note yet there was loud ... music-al...ly stuff coming from the various speakers. It was a transition point: Corps stops playing, computer starts playing, computer stops playing, corps resumes playing.

We have crossed a threshold. It's all very entertaining and wowza, but we are now in a different room.

Are you saying we're not in Kansas anymore, Toto?

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