Lance

drill vs. choreography in drum corps shows, 2 questions

2 questions  

70 members have voted

  1. 1. Which is harder to teach?

    • choreography
      37
    • drill
      12
    • they are equally hard to teach
      21
  2. 2. Which is harder to perform?

    • choreography
      27
    • drill
      24
    • they are equally hard to perform
      19


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12 hours ago, karuna said:

... regardless of the number of props,  it's a field not a stage.  There's no proper lighting, no proper way to change sets,  no "off-stage", no curtain, and no sound system that's even close to adequate (as compared to the broadway stage).  It's really kind of pathetic.  Blast worked because it was indoors and had all those things.  Drum corps will never have them. 

I'm not so sure about that. Some HS bands have dabbled with some of this already (lighting, stages and curtains). And designers seem to be continually pushing boundaries. Props, "choreography" and the current state of electronics and amplification will be evolving along with other boundaries being pushed.

 P.S. I don't like it. Put your #### uniforms and hats on, and march some cool drill!

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5 hours ago, Cappybara said:

If that's the case then why not just accept the activity for what it is? Why the lofty expectations? Why the need to call out what is "real" dance vs not?

Because it's a judged activity.  You should take a penalty lesser score for mediocre (at best) dance.  That isn't happening.  That whole demand and exposure thing.  I think well used body is a GOOD thing.  But, seriously how many static forms do we need bug stomp swivel hips?  Excellence means that, not half baked dance covering really bad marching.

 

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Check out this perspective by Blue Stars choreographer Kris Galbreath. 

 

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20 hours ago, N.E. Brigand said:

I'm not sure you're reading karuna's post accurately, although I admit the asperity gets in the way.

He seems to be welcoming of corps whose instrumentalists actually danced while playing, as long as they were doing it well. Every now and again a corps or band will incorporate a little non-drill choreography into their show. Madison a bit of this in their "Time Trip" show -- but not much, and I think even what they had they cut down over the course of the season. I once linked here to a 1986 high school band doing a quick step routine while they played "I'm Looking Over a Four-Leafed Clover", but now I find that video is gone. (Ugh. Who deletes video of 30+ year old band performances?) There's an all-girls band from Japan that does this too. Most of these are dance steps where the performer's location on the field doesn't change, though. The next step would be to have drill where the steps are not just marching and while playing at the same time.

And he's certainly right that no matter how talented the dancers in drum corps are, they nonetheless are, on average, not at the level of people of the same age whose primary focus is dance. (Likewise the best young brass musicians, we have often been told, are often steered away from drum corps by their instructors so they can focus on "real" music.)

Thank you for actually reading.  

I'll respond to your point about "soloist in broadway often aren't featured dancers".  100% agree.  And when they are  singing and dancing, their choreography is designed to allow the musical contribution to win.

I'm not railing against drum corps dancing.  I'm against the idea that somehow dance is replacing drill.  This a bold face lie.   

DCI is fundamentally music in motion.  The motion part is what sets it apart from concert band (standing still and playing).  It has traditionally been held up as the highest level of music and motion (read EXCELLENCE).  Now some programs are completely substituting standing for moving.  And when they move, their movement is entirely functional.  There's no art fluttering a blob from one place to another.  

The result -- while it can be rarely entertaining (Bloo & the GE caption) -- completely fails on the visual sheets if they were being used properly.  There's no excellence at all.  

So we've transitioned from something musicians can learn to do well to (choreographed marching) to something musicians will never do well (dance).  You'll note that is was not ME who brought up Broadway (or even more absurd -- ballet 😱).   This is the explanation being put forth by some designers.  

But the argument is paper thin.  When you start to look at a what makes Broadway, Broadway,  drum corps fails on every single point.  

Sure what corps do today is choreography.  After all choreography is just planned motion.  But the product has moved from incredible virtuosity to outright bad.  Colorguards "get away with" dancing because they work REALLY REALLY hard at it.  They make hornline members look clumsy.  But if you speak with most members of a guard,  they will be the first to admit that what they do is "colorguard dance"  (ie the excellence is not comparable to actual dancers).  ((and exceptions made for the actual dancers who are colorguard members -- they exist but are a small minority)).   So the excellence has vanished.  And designers are effectively misleading their students about the whole broadway comparison (because most of them have no clue about it).  And judges have been led down this path by the kings of reducing error-exposure. 

The effect on the sheets is  (visual) judges  simply accepting whatever corps choose to field.  The criteria on the sheets don't apply to most of it and the judges are not equipped to simultaneously evaluate the 130 members pretending to dance anyway.   If they WERE equipped to properly evaluate it, it would receive very poor marks (btw this is what DCI-age dancers in an ensemble, competitive setting actually look like).  DCI designers made sure there's a minute and half of drill thrown in to give visual judges something to evaluate so they don't feel ENTIRELY useless because everyone would notice if the tapes were completely empty.  All this is wrapped up in "look how INNOVATIVE we are".   

So we've transitioned from excellent movement and excellent musicianship while moving to objectively bad movement and musicians standing still when playing.  It's sad.  

I have no objections to corps using dance when there are designed interludes where they aren't playing.  It makes sense there and is far preferable to standing still.   And the trend away from "body" to dance is a good one!  Members are being instructed (albeit briefly) in sound fundamentals  And yes it's bad but it's uniformly bad and it's NOT the core product.  The core product was still music and motion.

I'm not a dinosaur calling for a return to bugles.  Instead I'm asking what's always been an elite activity at the TOP of it's game in excellence to stay there.  Do what you do well.  Abandoning "excellence in every moment" can't be anything but the wrong direction.

A last point to consider.  In the days before flutter-blobs were the preferred means of locomotion,  if a corps moved from one place directly to another with the obvious and transparent intent of "traveling to the next stop",  this was slammed as "functional".  Instead the drill designer was challenged to creatively use their ART to accomplish the task in a pleasing and often surprising manner. Now we have corps moving members from one prop to another in an ENTIRELY direct, functional way.  How is this is defended? "Oh have you never seen dancers travel"?  Well, yes, we have.  But there is ART in their motion.   Nothing is functional.    

Edited by karuna
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4 hours ago, Brass Lover said:

My friend teaches choreography for a living, teaches classes and organizes music videos. He thinks most of the stuff in DCI is comical and repetitive. He really liked the dance break in Babylon though.

Gotta say... I agree.  I think it shows in the scores and placement when corps get serious enough to (try to) sparingly only field stuff that helps the show and is accessible to the members.

What's worse than dancing in a marching band?...

PRETENDING to dance in a marching band.

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23 hours ago, Cadevilina Crown said:

I think the thing about choreography is that while it is not easy to teach or perform, it is far easier to clean than drill. That's partly why we've seen a dramatic increase in the amount of choreography over the past 10+ years - to boost those visual scores by having a product that may look as difficult as any other but is ultimately cleaner than one that contains more drill. And because of that, it gives the music designers more opportunities to make their books more challenging, and thus easier to clean, than if they were doing drill all the time.

This!

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12 hours ago, N.E. Brigand said:

 

This could be a parody of modern DCI -- particularly the section with the prop starting at 3:05.

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7 hours ago, N.E. Brigand said:

This could be a parody of modern DCI -- particularly the section with the prop starting at 3:05.

I told you it fits!  My mind always goes to this every time the issue is brought up.

But you have to recognize the self aware irony in the production number.  The lament is delivered through... excellent choreography.

Priceless.

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