Winter guard festival shows students possibilities


Iris Wright

Members of Downers Grove North winter guard perform their routine in the main gym on Sunday, Feb. 3rd for the winter guard festival.

Iris Wright, Website Editor

Silence falls over the gym bleachers before the competitors make their first moves. They become an extension of sound, taking on characters and emotions while exhibiting their skills. In a whirlwind of colors, flag silks spin in unison as the music crescendos. A soloist throws her rifle into the air, and it spins countless times as the audience readies their hands for applause when it impacts her palms.
Last Sunday, spectators, competitors, and volunteers filled the gym for the first Midwest Color Guard Circuit competition held at PHS. 18 winter guard teams performed from 14 different high schools.
“It was something you don’t see every day,” senior volunteer Darren Price said.
This festival is not only the first for Central; it marks the first competition of the season for many of the performing guards.
PHS planned to train its own winter guard team to compete in future years. This group met several times in November, but it disbanded.
“There were just the few practices in the beginning before it was cancelled,” junior guard captain Kylee Deegan said. “There weren’t enough people doing it.”
According to the Winter Guard International rules, competing guards must have more than five but less than 40 members performing. Some guards had over 30 dancers, while guards like Thornton Fractional Township South High School’s team had only 6 members. Regardless of guard size, all teams perform on a massive tarp set up by volunteers who arrived early.
“I’ve been here since eight,” Price said. “I guarded the warm-up area and made sure people got to their warm-ups on-time.”
Many volunteers were band members, while others found the opportunity through Tri-M or NHS. Those who stayed the whole day spent some of their time watching performances, like Pia Moscoso, a senior who participated in guard during the marching band season.
“It’s nice [watching the winter guards], because it helps me improve as a color guard person,” Moscoso said.
For performers who competed in previous years, the competition routine is familiar despite the new venue.
“[This competition] is not that different,” Shelby Berghorst, guard member from Downers Grove North High School, said. “It’s generally the same. You have a classroom, you get ready, you warm up and then go perform, and then you can watch other shows.”
Berghorst’s performed in the show titled “Pique-Nique el Paris,” in which the performers twirl with exuberant smiles. Guard shows with an enthusiastic tone are less common than ones that are dark or carry a distressed tone, like the show that won first place in the Scholastic Round One division: “Evil Overcomes the Queen” performed by Lasalle Peru Township High School.
“The queen is essentially possessing the other performers,” Lydia Argudright, senior guard member at Lasalle Peru Township High School, said.
The story is explained though the dancers’ facial expressions, motions, and choice of attire and props. For Argudright, this means a face of purple and gold makeup that takes about an hour to apply.
The shows take far less time to perform, since Winter Guard International sets time limits for each guard classification, but many of the guard shows are unfinished at this point in the season and run under five minutes.
“We only have two and a half minutes now,” Argudright said. “We haven’t finished it yet, but by the end of the show the evil is going to turn back.”
Guard shows take on a variety of themes and stories. Some take on social issues like equality, while others use movie music to tell an adventurous story.
“I saw one that was themed after ‘Pirates of the Caribbean,’” senior volunteer Fatima Macias-Bedolla said. “It was so cool.”
Guards from the same school competed in different categories, some of which were the only teams in their division, like senior guard captain Giovanna Martin’s team from Lake Central High School, which was the only one that competed in the Scholastic Open division. Despite their lack of competition, they packed their show with energy and activity.
“It guarantees first, but it also guarantees last,” Martin said.
With or without competitors, teams feel that competition is a key element to their season and to their improvement.
“I definitely think we perform better in front of an audience,” Jacobs said.