The Art of Storytelling

Chris Dillon

As we jazz run our way into the winter guard season, we find the color guard performer more and more challenged by the roles they are asked to embody. One of these may be that of a storyteller.

While some of the shows that are created this season may not be telling a literal story complete with characters and plot twists, many will engage and enchant in ways that take the audience on a journey of emotion and color. Storytelling doesn’t always have to be a narrative; it can exist as a type of visual journey of concept and theme.

Plot Structure

A good majority of winter guard shows are designed similarly to the plot structure in a story: At the onset, they set the scene/mood or atmosphere, followed by a series of events that lead us into a climactic visual moment and end in resolution.


Depending on the theme/concept or idea of the show, the performer often drives the vehicle on the stage and communicates to the audience in ways that go well beyond counts, equipment, and body. A color guard performer communicates with the audience in non-verbal ways.

Everything you do in winter guard has an innate energy in terms of how movement and equipment happen, and that energy is what drives the story of your show. The performer must understand that there are many variations of energy: free, flowing, gentle, percussive, tight, loose, heavy, light (and the list can go on and on).


Storytelling at its very essence is about expression, and you know that expression is everything in the world of color guard! Stories transport people, they open minds, but most of all, they move people.

This season there will be countless fans in your audience waiting for you to share your art, tell the story of your show, and take them on a journey through this wonderful vehicle we call color guard. Enjoy!

About author

Chris Dillon

Chris Dillon has been involved in marching arts activity since 1981 as a performer, instructor, designer and adjudicator.  Currently, she is an adjudicator for Drum Corps International, WGI Sports of the Arts, Southern California School Band and Orchestra Association, Winter Guard Association of Southern California (WGASC), Florida Federation of Colorguards Circuit, Indiana High School Color Guard Association, Texas Color Guard Circuit, and several others. She held the position of education coordinator for the WGASC for the past eight years.

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