Winter is coming

Technique. Poise. Remember the facial expressions. This year’s Winter Guard focuses on these key performance aspects, pouring excitement and energy into its shows. For its members, concentrating on the team’s presentation and tossing props into the air is a daily routine.

Each year, coaches Kristine Hastings and Nicole Murakami rearrange Color Guard. In the second semester, Winter Guard competes by itself rather than with the band. The team features its own dance line that interweaves with the other lines in winter guard and follows special choreography.

“The transition to Winter Guard is nice because we get a chance to perform by ourselves rather than with the band and [be] more independent,” flag and dance line member senior Angelina Arteaga said. “Being my third year, it’s more exciting rather than nerve-wracking because I feel more comfortable with my equipment and the work that I’ve been given.”

Winter Guard performs at five competitions from February to April. The team performs in the gym and is judged by a panel that assesses their synchronization, posture and tossing technique.

“Being [judged] is pretty [nerve-wracking] because it’s not just the judge that’s looking at you. It’s people looking at how good you are at being together with the entire team,” flag line member sophomore Joshua Deubler said. “Since it’s my first year doing Color Guard, I’m nervous because I’ve never [competed].”

The coaches held tryouts in December to determine the new positions for each member. They gauged members’ individual tossing and handling skills for each type of position.

“Now we’re just by ourselves so it’s not that hard transitioning,” flag, saber and rifle line member sophomore Grace Altman said. “You think about performing to the audience and just doing your best.”

The organization practices after school on Tuesdays and Thursdays. At practice, members learn new choreography, fix mistakes and run through their show to see what improvements can be made. The team also counts out loud to synchronize their tosses with one another.

“We have a pretty good team dynamic this year,” captain senior Paulina Utomo said. “Everyone’s really interactive with each other, [and] everyone is friendly with each other.”

This year, Winter Guard’s performance song is “Dance for Me Wallis” by Abel Korzeniowski. The slower pace of the tune is different from the usual fast-paced tunes in their performances.

“The way my coach described it was kind of a ballroom vibe. I’m personally used to performing [with] extra facial [expressions],” Utomo said. “You can’t really do that with this. It’s definitely more different, so it’s something we’ll get used to.”

In past years, Winter Guard has been comprised of two teams: a varsity and junior varsity team. Since there are only 26 members this year compared to about 40 last year, they have combined into one team.

“[This season is] fun because a lot of the people in the team are friends, and [we] are close,” co-captain junior Joshua Almonte said.I get to help the members in the guard perform at their best.”

Winter Guard is in the scholastic AAA division, competing with some of the top schools in the Winter Guard Association of Southern California. The team looks forward to advancing from this division in the future.

“We get to express ourselves in a whole other way, and the main focus is on us and not on the band,” Almonte said. “We’re a lot closer to each other and there’s less people. It’s a lot of fun to work with [your] friends.”

By Landon Park, Staff writer
Photo by Erin Tan