Preparing For Premiere in the Midst of a Pandemic
By: Emily Ward, Featured Performer from Sunlake HS
Every year, teams spend months leading up to the winter competition season preparing for the experience of a lifetime: performing a show for an audience full of supporting spectators to see. This year, unlike any other seen before, programs have been finding unique ways to cultivate a positive, successful learning environment, while ensuring the health and safety of every member involved in the creation of each marching arts show.
Throughout the state of Florida teams have adapted their rehearsals and shows to each district’s safety guidelines to protect all performers. Even with the addition of new safety protocols this season, all teams are as excited and ready as ever to begin showing their passion for the marching arts to the world again.
In Pinellas county, Danielle Morgan, a colorguard captain from Osceola Fundamental High School, said that her program has been making sure that “after each practice, the following morning we disinfect each piece of equipment. Our program takes the privilege of our county allowing us to compete very seriously, and we do our best to ensure everyone’s safety from the moment we enter for practice, until the moment we leave.” Along with Danielle and her team, Juan Brito, a first-year on Tampa Independent’s open class colorguard, spoke about how his program “has to wear masks the entire rehearsal, just so that we’re all staying safe and making sure no one is able to give or get covid.” Juan goes on to say that wearing masks throughout rehearsal, “honestly helps [him] feel safe, knowing that TI is doing the most we can to follow the COVID-19 safety guidelines.”
When it comes to any marching arts show, drill is a very important factor in bringing a designer’s vision to fruition. With the ever-present concern of COVID-19 in the forefront of everyone’s minds, many designers are paying special attention to how they lay out their team’s drill. Emily Peraza from Freedom High School Orlando said, at her school “the guard program has adapted the work [of our show] to be independent, and the drill is spaced out. We also have to be separated at all times and have marked squares on our floor to warm up!”
While preparing for the new season, teams had to work on recruiting new members in the midst of a pandemic, which is a bit of a challenge. Olivia Bolin, a weapon section leader at West Orange High School, said that, “as a team we have faced some difficulties in recruiting new members. Due to the shut down last year, we were unable to travel to the middle schools for recruitment, so we’ve found ourselves with a smaller number of new members than usual.” However, this has not stopped the success of the West Orange team that will make their 2021 debut at premiere central in a couple of weeks.
At many of the public high schools in Florida, mass quarantines have been happening throughout the year. Once a person gets contract traced, they are out of school and rehearsal for an average of seven to ten days, which places teams in an unfortunate position to have to have rehearsal without many of their team members. Bella Ginocchetti, a senior and captain of the Seabreeze High School colorguard, talked about how “with our school having to quarantine members who may have been exposed to COVID-19, we are missing people at our practices. It makes it harder to choreograph and write drill.” But just like Olivia and the West Orange guard program, Seabreeze is doing everything they can to have the most fun, successful, and safe season they possibly can.
With social distancing being a key factor to protecting the health of every staff member and performer in each program, team bonding is looking a bit different this season. Instead of the festive holiday parties and friendsgivings that help a team to become closer and learn to trust the people they are performing with, many programs are forgoing those things, so they can pursue a prosperous, safe season.
From Creekside High School, Hailey Gauger discussed how “team bonding has been more of a struggle than normal this season, since we can’t have gatherings outside of rehearsal, out of safety for the program.” Along with Hailey Gauger, Haley Rose, a member of the Seabreeze High School colorguard, said that her program has been going through the same dilemma, having a harder time finding ways to facilitate team bonding, while adhering to COVID-19 safety protocols. Haley stated that “finding time to bond has been more difficult this season, since social distancing and quarantining have made things so different from the previous seasons.”
Despite the plentiful obstacles that are being thrown in the paths of each team within the circuit, every program is finding ways to make practices work and to assure that they are able to have an enjoyable season with the FFCC, starting with the premieres that will be taking place in the coming weeks. The dawn of a new season is upon us and every single team in the circuit is stepping up to the plate, ready to show off their absolute adoration for the marching arts.