Moving into our 30th year 08/29
Moving into our 30th year with the focus to EXPLORE, EXCITE, EXCEL AND ENRICH THE EXPERIENCE foremost in our goals, the WGI judges' December education meeting in Dallas offered an enrichment program designed to open the minds of the judging community to diversity of styles and design choices.
The Steering Committee had expressed a concern that many guards seemed to be afraid to step out of their comfort zone and explore new and exciting options because the "tried and true" was what the judges were rewarding. Guards were starting to look alike as their choices followed the same safe path. Clearly, judges were also reluctant to step outside their comfort zones and encourage designers to think "outside the box" as they assigned scores.
In support of the hope that guards will "explore" new options, and in order to prepare the judges to recognize, appreciate and reward those efforts when successful, designer Karl Lowe offered the group four two-minute presentations depicting that diversity.
Using the same musical clip and the same performers, the focus of this study centers on how the designer chooses to stage, interpret or illustrate the music. Therefore, the only real variance in this study is the design choice. This now bring's the judges' preferences, background and personal aesthetics into play as each presentation is evaluated and scored. Judges MUST move beyond the obvious and literal in order to recognize and reward the differences in design choices. Judges must not limit designers’ exploration of any variation or interpretation of the sound track. Real growth can occur only if the judge's mind is open, background is broad, and range of aesthetic appreciation is diverse and varied.
- The first performance is a literal illustration of the music. It presents what the judge understands as a standard in musicality and captures the mood and essence of the music with comfort and familiarity. The unison choreography reinforces the judge’s comfort in reading the intent of the design. Based on this comfort, the judge will no doubt feel that there is a strong aesthetic appeal and reward this design fully and with confidence. This presentation does not challenge the norm in any way. It is the archetypal representative of what most judges understand and reward.
- The second performance begins to work somewhat in juxtaposition to the music employing more staccato articulations and a more “modern” movement technique. Here is where the judge must broaden the viewing perspective and recognize that while the choice is not literal to the music, nonetheless there is another “musical line” that is written through the equipment that works well in tandem with the sound track. There is a rhythmic pattern that fits exactly into the musical structure and essentially brings another layer to the musicality.
- The unique quality in this piece is found in the manner of interpreting the music. Rather than utilizing the approach in the first presentation, here we find each person taking on parts of phrases so that the orchestration of the individual moves both through body and equipment, blend together to depict the music. The eye must be open to seeing each individual as a musical voice working in harmony to create a blend of musicality.
- The final performance takes on an entirely different motivation. Physical characteristics immediately define the personality of the guard in a different way, and equipment choreography motivates much of the design. There is a reduction of musical intent with emphasis on "essence." It is far more abstract. It is expressively stoic with random parts where musicality pops out as "coincidence". Rhythm and speed work in juxtaposition to the sound track while still fitting into the musical structure. This exploration definitely challenges the judge’s sense of aesthetics and forces the viewer to think outside the box moving away from the ease and comfort of the first presentation.
WGI wishes to thank choreographer Karl Lowe with assistance from Rob Jett and Michael Raiford and especially the performers who gave many hours in preparation for this project: Thomas Conway, Mykail Costner, Mike Gurrola, Candice Lloyd and Sergio Marquez.