With each new season, we are greeted with more international guards competing in WGI. That is also the case this year with the Pride of Netherlands venturing to the new world to compete against the best Open guards.
Our participants, staffs and judges might wonder about the inner workings of a European guard and how it approaches competing on two continents. To satisfy our curiosity, NJNJ judge Ron Clark interviewed Adam Sage, who is Pride’s American consultant. He is also director/designer for Kennesaw Mountain (GA) High School winter guard, designer for the Madison Scouts and a NJNJ adjudicator.
1.) You have consulted and taught Pride now for three seasons. What was the attraction to undertake such an endeavor?
First, it was just the freshness that comes from being exposed to a new environment. But then I was drawn by the organization itself after accepting the offer to consult from Robby Overvliet, Pride’s director and former WGI judge. Pride’s infrastructure reminds me of the historic Boston guards – such as Blessed Sacrament, St. Ann’s, etc. – that had multi-feeder organizations with members continuously being groomed to advance to the next level of competition. That is the case with Pride, with 120 members competing in six different classes. Not only does the organization have great continuity — there are members who may have been with the organization for as much as twenty years — it is highly structured and efficient. Much time goes into planning the programs so that all six teams have adequate floor time and perform competitively in class-specific shows. Because the members are appropriately prepped prior to my arrival, it makes my job much easier.
2.) How do they exist, budget-wise?
Pride was originally a drum corps. When they converted to a winter guard, the support staff – mainly the parents – restructured the corps hall into a full-practice gym. When it is not used for guard practices or the out-of-season dance studio practices, it is rented out for dance recitals. Any flags, props, floors or screens used are made by the parents.
The membership fees are quite manageable – peaking at 300 Euros ($500) on a season that includes a trip to the WGIs. The Netherlands, the size of NJ and MA combined, has seventeen of the Open class performers come from their country and one coming from France.
3.) What are your responsibilities with Pride and how do you satisfy them?
In June, the staff and I begin brainstorming by email and Skype. I am involved in the program development that includes costuming and floor design. I am scheduled for two pre-season trips to help teach the show to mainly the Open team. During the season, we use a closed-membership Facebook site to exchange videos and judges’ recordings. This coordination is comparable to what stateside teams might do with their consultants.
4.) Did you encounter any language impediments due to American idioms or subtleties of expression?
Not really. The entire staff speak English as do most of the performers. When working with the performers, the message is at least comprehended non-verbally, so the performers understand the intent. Being able to display the message visually often fulfills the requirement.
5.) Do you sense any regional characteristics that impacts upon Pride’s program?
The Netherlands has a stronger emphasis on technical skills, which should benefit Pride in Dayton. As well as competing in the Netherlands, Pride also competes in Germany and France.
One of the biggest differences from America is that there are no scholastic guards in Europe to feed the independent groups. The independent groups have to promote members through their feeder systems or occasionally draw from some of the local drum corps. Also, there are no scholastic marching bands to supply the winter programs.
6.) Does a trip to Dayton involve any special logistics?
Yes, with the goal of maximizing efficiency and thereby minimizing costs, Pride does not bring flags. They are purchased in the US to save on the cost of shipping. Also, due to the prohibitive cost of shipping the floor, Pride devised a unique solution to minimize that cost: it is cut into twenty pieces that are individually carried by each member onto the plane. It is this problem-solving ability that has allowed Pride to overcome some logistical problems of competing on two continents.
7.) What can you tell us about Pride’s show for 2014?
“The World You Lived In” It will explore the connectivity of mankind. This also represents Pride’s objective: to communicate to the American audience the relationships we all share with each other. Pride is possibly an unknown entity to the Dayton audience, and it is Pride’s goal to bridge that unknown and connect through our common language known as winter guard. We hope you will enjoy it.