By Jamie Escobar-Dyer, FFCC Education Coordinator

Transitions and their importance!

As we wrap up week 1 from our regional premiere show one of the biggest takeaways from our upstairs judges and overview clinicians is truly understanding and valuing the worth of a good transition! As you start to listen and decipher from your tapes the terminology being used with transitions and making next steps for your program, we hope this will help you to gain a better understanding of the purposeful way transitions can connect to your big moments within the horizontal and vertical orchestration of your program!


Many designers create their moments in different ways!

Some will organically create as they go allowing the moments (vertical orchestration) to be created as they build the show. Others will take a more mathematical thought-out process with a plan or storyboard of when moments will occur musically and where they stage on the floor. As you grow as a designer these processes merge and become easier.

  • What is vertical orchestration? These are the moments in the show that make an impact. They can be created through emotion, equipment, drill, etc. but evokes a response from the audience and the judges.
  • When storyboarding it’s important to plan out these vertical moments in your music. Determine count structures and times in the music that these moments will happen. These moments should be thought through with the process of “When, Where, Why, and How” Try to create different types of vertical orchestration to increase variety and depth in your program but make sure that these are moments that your students can deliver on, without success in the moment you have no moment.
    • When will this moment happen musically?
    • Where on the floor will it happen?
    • Why are you creating this moment? Does it support the show?
    • How will you get there to create the moment and leave the moment? (This comes in with the transition into and out of the moment)

Things to think about: Where you stage moments should be varied! Always on the 50 or in the back corner will become similar and lack variety. Ask yourself in sets does this look like something I’ve already done?

Moments are laid out but how do I put it together?

Now that you have the impactful (vertical) moments thought out you now need to connect them with meaningful transitions! (Horizontal Orchestration)

  • What is Horizontal Orchestration:
    • The horizontal orchestration is how the show runs from beginning to end. Do the transitions flow into each vertical moment and out of them seamlessly with a strong focus on what to watch throughout the show. The design is purposeful and makes sense to the show.
  • Where to start with my transitions?
    • Some designers like to start from the beginning and work their way up to the vertical moments. Others prefer to start in the vertical moment and work backwards transitioning out of the moment. Again, the more you design the easier this process will become in what way you prefer. Always remember a moment is only as strong as the transition that leads into it! With a functional transition and no clear focus, you can be in danger of feeling more like watching a comic book on the floor where the moments happen without knowing how or why they got there.

How do I make transitions work?

It’s important to understand the scoring sheets and some of the most important design elements when writing transitions and thinking about how to get to your next vertical moment.

  • Geometric/Formal Design – are shapes (line, blocks, arcs, circles) and forms that change and evolve from one picture to another. These clear forms can enhance effectiveness and offer variety. The vertical moment can be achieved strongly through this type of design and can be enhanced with the usage of free form/informal design.
  • Free Form/Informal design – Scattered or texturized design that contrasts strong geometric designs but enhances variety.
  • Presentational Staging – primary purpose is to expose a specific phrase for focus. Can come off choppy or lack flow if not thoughtful in the written transition.
  • Groupings – If events start to feel too similar groupings of 2s, 3s, or 4s can offer a variety, dimensionality, and creates more interest in staging and equipment writing!
  • Direct Transitions – Going from point A to B can look functional. Stagger departures and arrivals at times in order to create more intrigue and more purposeful transition.

It is always important that you have a clear vision for the choreographers. Communication is imperative to creating a vocabulary that is cohesive with the design elements. Combining elements of design, planning with a purpose, and interrelationships of all elements will reward you in the end with a diverse program.

We look forward to seeing you next week with more ways to grow your show! If you have questions, reach out to

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