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Walnut High School | 400 Pierre Rd. Walnut, Calif. 91789

the hoofprint

Walnut High School | 400 Pierre Rd. Walnut, Calif. 91789

the hoofprint

Walnut High School | 400 Pierre Rd. Walnut, Calif. 91789

Color Guard sharpens their skills

Discover the unappreciated art behind every toss, turn and catch involved in their 2023 field show.
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Photo by Stephanie Cheng
Junior Melody Wang practices a new choreography for upcoming performances with Color Guard. I feel excited to learn [because] it’s fun to [practice] for our show [using] the new choreography,” Wang said.

Behind the wave of colorful flags are Color Guard performers who share the same goal: to put on the best show possible. Color Guard does a large amount of preparation and practice, often working with Blue Thunder Marching Band.

Color Guard has always worked hard to ensure that their dancing and drill is as close to perfect as possible, but this year the team is working on more difficult choreography. 

“With the pandemic, we were kind of set back,” senior co-captain Katelyn Chen said. “We missed a lot and now that we’ve caught up to speed we are trying to push ourselves a little bit more to try and up our placement in competitions.”

Coaches Nicole Murakami and Christine Hastings choreograph routines before sharing them with the team. The field show, performed at halftime of home football games, is based on “Hamilton” so Color Guard uses prop weapons for much of the routine. 

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“Our coaches know us really well. Their method of giving us really hard choreography and pushing us to get it works,” senior co-captain Emely Yem said.

Practice officially begins with a stretch and warm-up before heading into more complicated choreography and skills like quad throws — when a rifle spins four times in the air before the catch. This type of throw requires more skill and force to get the rifle high enough to allow it to spin four times.

“I’m most excited for the rifle portion because it’s the part where I need to push myself the most,” Chen said. “There’s not a lot of time to rest, and I’ve already seen myself improve a lot.”

To simplify practice, the show is broken into movements (larger chunks of the performance) and sets (smaller chunks of the performance). Sets help Color Guard ensure that they are standing in the right place at a point in the performance, which can be difficult because of the size of the field.

“The field is really large and sometimes we have to move up to 20 or 30 yards which can be tiring while doing choreography,” sophomore Angela Huang said. “It can be really hard to travel while spinning [the flag].”

Both Color Guard and marching band also use dot sheets to assign numbers to each performer. If a performer is out of place, a coach, teacher or leader will call out the number and guide the performer to the correct spot.

“[Performing] is stressful but when you’re actually there you get kind of a performance high,” Huang said. “You don’t really think about the stress and you just perform. It feels pretty good.”

Compared to last year, there is much more dance involved in this year’s performance. The throws in the new performance also are consistently more difficult, almost all of them being quad throws. The performance also moves faster, with almost no time to rest.

“The hardest part is probably memorizing everything,” sophomore Amanda Chan said. “We are going so fast into it that it’s difficult to remember what happens next.”

Going forward, Color Guard will be learning choreography with sabres, a short sword, in addition to competing in field competitions with marching band. Choreography gets added on week by week, making each week more difficult until field competitions begin.

“Competitions are a lot more stressful. If you drop [the flag] it really counts,” Huang said. “At a football game people care if you drop but it’s not really detrimental. At a [competition] it can cost points.” 

 

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Marissa Alejo, Copy and coverage editor-in-chief
Hi my name is Marissa Alejo, I'm a senior and I'm the Copy and Coverage editor-in-chief for The Hoofprint. Outside of The Hoofprint I am on the girls soccer team and also play club soccer. In my free time I love watching sports and reading.
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