Hello, my name is Christina Rutan, I’m from Indiana, and this was my sixth weekend with the Phantom Regiment Winter Guard! The weekend for me began with about a five-hour trip to Bowling Green, Kentucky right after my last class ended on Friday. I arrived there around 7pm only to find out that our practice site that night was even farther than normal so by the time Glenn and I finally arrived it was actually already 12:30am! After the ten-hour drive though I was still ready to jump right in when we got there. That’s the amazing thing about these people and this organization, no matter what I’ve had to do to get there and back on the weekends, when I get there, none of that matters because I just love it so much.
So when we did finally get to practice, Glenn and I saw that everyone was working in their own sections, the flags were with Adam learning and making some changes to their show with some beautiful and new flag work, the rifles were working together as well as the sabers with Stephanie. Then the dancers, the section Glenn and I are in, were actually working with Jay Jernigan, an amazing and unique choreographer who founded the Metro Movement Ensemble, who has started coming in on the weekends to choreograph. I was instantly excited for the chance to learn from him, and Glenn and I tried to catch up as quickly as possible on what he had already taught. After that, he continued writing for the dancer/flag partner work, and the movement that follows. We then ran the new movement a few times before it was time to call it a night. It was a little after 1am when we packed up the tarp and headed to our respective locations for the evening, which is the part I always dread. For me, it’s like as soon as I get there it seems like I have to be separated from everyone right away when I just want to hang out with them all night long. However, I don’t think it would be possible to all fit in one house, so Joey, Glenn, Morgan, Brian and I all headed for Brian’s house. I’ve never stayed there before, but apparently it’s closer to the practice site on Saturday, and with how our group likes to sleep, we were all about that. So as we were driving back, we all had a big craving for Taco Bell, but the one we stopped at was totally closed already, what kind of fourth meal is that?! We continued on our journey when Glenn and I spotted an open Taco Bell, but were at the end of the caravan so we couldn’t stop – oh and also Brian wouldn’t pick up his phone! Our last hope was the Taco Bell off of Brian’s exit, but alas it was closed as well. So we finally gave up and just went to McDonalds-lame! As soon as we got to Brian’s we all were so exhausted that we basically just crashed on a huge couch until it was time for practice again.
Saturday’s practice began at 10am with the most hilarious thing I’ve seen in a while: our staff member, Stephanie, giving us a fantastic performance to the lip gloss song (My lip gloss be poppin’, my lip gloss be cool, etc)- HYSTERICAL and very convincing. I love that our staff loves having fun just as much as we do. After we were all waken up by the lively performance, we did a little stretching on our own because our dance instructor Jonathon was unfortunately not able to be here this weekend. Then, Stephanie told us to get a partner who we don’t usually hang out with and do a mirror activity where one person has to start and the other mirror them, and the person who leads continually changes throughout the activity without any exchange of words. This exercise Stephanie explained, was to show us how connected we are with one another and that connection is what we need to find on the floor, and to feed off of it in order to be the best color guard we can be.
After that we set up in our current flag feature set and cleaned and added a slight alteration to the feature on how we get out of the ground. We ran the feature many times, helping us to get more comfortable with it, the change and more consistent overall. Then Adam took the flags again to work on their new work while the weapons worked with Stephanie, and us dancers reviewed our new add on dance work. We also were working on the flag double exchange. The last couple of practices we have really been making good changes, work and drill wise, that has changed many members individual shows, but the staff is making sure that we are comfortable with the changes and that they are achievable before moving on. So the weapons went to lunch first, while Adam made sure the dancer/flag partner exchange part was just right.
When we returned we started moving past the weapon sit down part and Adam began staging the dancer drill into the banner flag entrance. All the dancers learned the flag work from Anna and then figured out when we added on to the work, which since I am the last flag to add on, I was just lucky enough to do four counts of it. We then ran that part a lot as a whole group with the flags and weapons making sure it worked, and after a few minor changes, we had knocked out another section of the show, and it was time for dinner. (I finally got Taco Bell!!!!).
After dinner is when we got our new drill sets for the banner flag work, and also got our partners for the section. My partner ended up being Coleen, which is so awesome because we are partners earlier in the show for the flag/saber partner part. The new choreography we learned allows the banner silks to be much more exposed and centered, which creates a greater impact and bigger moment, plus I get to wrap Coleen all up with my silk. The last goal for the evening was to figure out our new flag feature sets which wasn’t too time consuming. We also changed the way we get into the ground for the feature, and reviewed the weapon sit down part through the flag feature a few times and made sure everything was smooth, and then felt confident to call it a day at 11:30pm.
Then, my group was staying at Brian’s again, so it was exciting to be at the house by midnight and able to relax and rejuvenate our minds and our bodies, and put on our new yellow silks for the flag feature before practice that the next morning. However, again since I love these people so much it was hard for me to go straight to bed, and we all stayed up for a little while talking and eating Ramen.
When we woke up, unfortunately it was too late for us to stop and get iced coffee, but we got to practice just in time. Again we stretched on our own and when we were finished, Adam gave us the agenda for the day. He told us that we were going to focus on getting from the flag feature, through the saber section, Jay was going to finish filling in the dance part to the banner flags, and we would be taking split lunches. First of all, the work Jay wrote was beautiful and I love it, and am glad I get to do all of it before picking up the banner flag. We worked on that for a while, took our split lunches, paid our final dues, turned in our ad money and already it was time for the last block of the weekend! For the last block we worked from the flag feature through the end of the saber part. I was actually added on to the beginning part of the saber work which I have never done or even learned for that matter, which was exciting because right away we began running it with the new drill in front of all the flags who all got to see me trying to get through it.
We had to be out of the school by 4pm sharp, so around 3 we began working backwards by chunking through the show, and ended up finishing with an incredible run. I could tell right away that it was something special, even before Adam said anything about it; it was so full of energy and just felt right. We had our meeting outside in the great weather and then Glenn and I started our road trip back home. Overall, the weekend was highly productive; we made great changes to the show and were able to end on such a high note with the run that we did. I am so thankful I was given the chance to be a part of this organization and can’t wait until next weekend when we get to perform!