Most Influential WGI Shows


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We kinda did this on the old CGP site, so let's do it again here, especially with the release of the "official" WGI list http://wgi.org/featured_detail.php?id=930.

I have not seen all these shows so I cannot comment on all of them, but I do agree with:

1980 Quasar

1982 Cavaliers

1987 Union High School (OMG OMG OMG!)

1988 San Jose Raiders

1989 Blessed Sacrament

1991 Miamisburg High School (STUNNING!)

Personally, I prefered 1987 Miller's Blackhawks for staging, design & equipment work. I think State Street was overhyped. But that's just my opinion.

I would have picked 1997 Pride over 1998.

What say you?

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I love San Jose Raiders 1988 and Blessed Sacrament 1989.

Miamisburg 1991 is great and I think 1998 Pride is amazing - though I'm not sure it really changed the activity but it certainly was highly emotional and one of the greatest ones from that organization.

Union High School is just incredible - 1987 and 1988 are amazing! I wish high school guards still did the splits and leaps like they did. Just wonderful!

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We kinda did this on the old CGP site, so let's do it again here, especially with the release of the "official" WGI list http://wgi.org/featured_detail.php?id=930.

I have not seen all these shows so I cannot comment on all of them, but I do agree with:

1980 Quasar

1982 Cavaliers

1987 Union High School (OMG OMG OMG!)

1988 San Jose Raiders

1989 Blessed Sacrament

1991 Miamisburg High School (STUNNING!)

Personally, I prefered 1987 Miller's Blackhawks for staging, design & equipment work. I think State Street was overhyped. But that's just my opinion.

I agree with your list (though I didn't get to see Miamsburg), and also with your comments about State Street. Many people love that 1987 Miller's Blackhawks show, but I guess I felt that San Jose Raiders took a very similar concept that very same year and did it better artistically, though they didn't execute nearly as well as Miller's Blackhawks (few guards did). Miller's also took a page out of 1985 Erte Productions' book with their focus on color as an overarching theme.

Speaking of Erte Productions, they belong on the list, if for no other reason than they were the first guard to use a floor tarp. And they also had a wonderful show. I disagreed with the first-place tie that year, as I saw them clearly on top.

I loved State Street's "Heaven and Hell" show . . . till they got to heaven. For me, that was a huge letdown. I was anticipating some sort of emotional catharsis, and instead got a predictably saccharine interpretation with way too much jewelry. It was as if all the inspiration went into "hell," and all the new ideas ran out there. Of course, that's only my opinion, and we all know what that's worth.

The linked list is absolutely correct in citing 1987 Odyssey. If you were there, you were left just shaking your head. It was not the best-executed show that year, but the thought and creativity that went into it was mind-blowing, and unlike anything that had come before. There's a lot of debate about what that show meant, but I think that's really up to the individual to interpret. The amazing thing was that we could all come out with our own take on what it was all about.

Going back even farther: 1978 Seattle Imperials (the linked list says '79, but I remember them doing this kind of thing in '78). I had the privilege of being at the very first WGI finals, and when I saw them, I couldn't believe my eyes. Their use of choreography and body work with equpment set the standard for everything we're seeing today. Nobody else did anything like that, the way Seattle did it, for several more years.

And 1980 and '81 Guardsmen deserve a spot on the "most influential" list. They took this wonderful "toy soldier" theme and set it to some of the most intricate, and dangerous, equipment work performed up to that point.

I would also cite Holley Hawks, pretty much any year that they competed. The reason I say that is because of the dense layering of their shows which pretty much became the norm for guard design later on.

I'll also add 1983 Skylarks to this list. If, like me, you saw them perform that show in WGI prelims in addition to finals, then that's a memory that will never leave you. I had never seen anything like that. They were just this breathtaking machine, with an incredible "space" theme. To see them fall apart in finals is another memory that will never leave me, because it was so heartbreaking. Meanwhile, Cavaliers did just the opposite. They didn't blow me away in prelims, but then cranked it up a notch for finals, and of course won.

There's also a little-known Indiana guard that deserves its place in the spotlight: Menagerie, from Salem, Indiana. They competed back in the early '80s, and revolutionized the concept of guard numbers. They had tiny guards with huge impact. Not only that, but they also revolutionized the way flagwork was written. Menagerie was one of the first guards -- if not the first guard I saw -- who wrote and performed dreamy, ethereal flagwork in an era when "Wham, bam, thank you ma'am!" still ruled. Menagerie was also one of the first truly "interpretive" guards, in the sense that they took a concept and combined music and choreography to create a stage, using dramatic performance in equal measure to their equipment work. When I saw Skylarks' space show, this was something Menagerie had already done in a similar way . . . and been laughed at.

Edited by byline
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There's also a little-known Indiana guard that deserves its place in the spotlight: Menagerie, from Salem, Indiana. They competed back in the early '80s, and revolutionized the concept of guard numbers. They had tiny guards with huge impact. Not only that, but they also revolutionized the way flagwork was written. Menagerie was one of the first guards -- if not the first guard I saw -- who wrote and performed dreamy, ethereal flagwork in an era when "Wham, bam, thank you ma'am!" still ruled. Menagerie was also one of the first truly "interpretive" guards, in the sense that they took a concept and combined music and choreography to create a stage, using dramatic performance in equal measure to their equipment work. When I saw Skylarks' space show, this was something Menagerie had already done in a similar way . . . and been laughed at.

thank you for mentioning this guard!

i agree,and i remember this guard very well.way ahead of their time[pre cirque du soliel] the wore bright magenta pink costumes,dramatic highly stylised theatrical makeup and lot's of sequins applied to their eyes and faces!they were so unique and different for their time.their director richard trueblood was responsible for their look and show design.he is still producing beautiful shows for salem high school from indiana.

Edited by dugg
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thank you for mentioning this guard!

i agree,and i remember this guard very well.way ahead of their time[pre cirque du soliel] the wore bright magenta pink costumes,dramatic highly stylised theatrical makeup and lot's of sequins applied to their eyes and faces!they were so unique and different for their time.their director richard trueblood was responsible for their look and show design.he is still producing beautiful shows for salem high school from indiana.

Thanks for mentioning Richard! He's a good friend, and still a creative genius. Sadly, I had aged out in 1982 when I traveled with Menagerie (a friend of mine marched in the rifle line), and it broke my heart not to be able to march. I would've loved to have been in that show!

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Many people love that 1987 Miller's Blackhawks show,

1987 was the first year I ever saw winter guard. It was a truly life changing experience, as I'm sure it is for most of us die-hard guard fanatics. :P I didn't see any prelims, just finals.

"Colors" is my all-time favorite winter guard show. No other since has made quite an impression on me. Alot have been better designed, vocabulary & difficulty have grown by leaps and bounds, but that show remains the epitomy of a WGI performance in my book.

The linked list is absolutely correct in citing 1987 Odyssey. If you were there, you were left just shaking your head. It was not the best-executed show that year, but the thought and creativity that went into it was mind-blowing, and unlike anything that had come before. There's a lot of debate about what that show meant, but I think that's really up to the individual to interpret. The amazing thing was that we could all come out with our own take on what it was all about.

I remember Odyssey, and quite frankly it was TOO innovative at the time for my tastes (of course I was only 16!) and just "too out there."

Wasn't it Pride that had the body bags? I absolutely HATED the "body bags." I couldn't focus on any design or equipment work because of them.

Edited by garfield_cadets
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I remember Odyssey, and quite frankly it was TOO innovative at the time for my tastes (of course I was only 16!) and just "too out there."

Wasn't it Pride that had the body bags? I absolutely HATED the "body bags." I couldn't focus on any design or equipment work because of them.

You mean Odyssey (not Pride)? If you're talking about the stretchy thingamajigs that Odyssey used in '87, that is. Yes, they were a bit odd, and probably not my favorite part of that show. I don't know. The line for what is "too much" or "too little" is going to be different for every person. For me, Odyssey's '87 show is one of those things that baffled me initially, but the more I watch it on video, the more I appreciate it. Many other "out there" shows didn't age nearly so well, IMO.

And, of course, as the linked article notes, that Odyssey show had one of the most incredible ensemble flag tosses ever. So even in the realm of equipment execution, that show had some amazing moments!

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There's also a little-known Indiana guard that deserves its place in the spotlight: Menagerie, from Salem, Indiana. They competed back in the early '80s, and revolutionized the concept of guard numbers. They had tiny guards with huge impact. Not only that, but they also revolutionized the way flagwork was written. Menagerie was one of the first guards -- if not the first guard I saw -- who wrote and performed dreamy, ethereal flagwork in an era when "Wham, bam, thank you ma'am!" still ruled. Menagerie was also one of the first truly "interpretive" guards, in the sense that they took a concept and combined music and choreography to create a stage, using dramatic performance in equal measure to their equipment work. When I saw Skylarks' space show, this was something Menagerie had already done in a similar way . . . and been laughed at.

Menagerie was simply amazing. They impacted me deeply. I do remember the crowd being very "mixed" in their response. I was marching in a crappy class A guard at the time so I had the opportunity to watch many of their performances. From that point on I knew that I wanted to start a guard that could have that kind of impact. After a 2 year (83/84) stint with the Cavaliers several of us left to form Anthron. We lasted for 4 years and made the World finals 2 times. Menagerie was a definite influence to many of us who wrote the show. Thanks for remembering them!

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You mean Odyssey (not Pride)? If you're talking about the stretchy thingamajigs that Odyssey used in '87, that is.

Yeah, I initially wrote Odyssey, but then (I'm getting old! yd.gif) I questioned myself. LOL

Edited by garfield_cadets
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