The visual portion of winter percussion has undergone significant change the last several years. To get a sense for how visual designers prepare for winter percussion, I met with JC Caceres, visual designer and choreagrapher for the Blue Knights Drum and Bugle Corps, and Ryan Springler, visual co-caption head at the Oregon Crusaders Drum and Bugle Corps.
Halftime: How have you seen visuals for a drummer change over the last 10 years?
Caceres: Choreography has become more organic in regard to how it pairs with the musical product. We used to learn choreography basics and apply them to the music, now the choreography is written to directly support specific aspects of the music.
Springler: There’s been an increase in the number of disciplines that we draw upon when we construct a visual program. Performers are asked to do more theatrical and athletic movements beyond traditional choreography.
Halftime: What are the best ways for performers to prepare for their visual responsibilities?
Caceres: It’s good to be familiar with basic ballet terminology. Performers need a good sense of rhythm.
Springler: The performers should work to increase their coordination, flexibility, and ability to express a pulse, for example, to be able to make a movement on a specific beat.
Halftime: What are some ideas for training young performers?
Springler: Anything that makes students more aware of their own athletic and movement capabilities: How far can I reach, how much can I bend?
Caceres: Don’t be afraid to set goals and stick to them. For example, consider picking five skill sets to focus on over the course of a season and finding ways to adapt them creatively in the show.
Halftime: What should instructors keep in mind while cleaning and optimizing a visual product?
Caceres: Knowing your trouble spots and prioritizing them into every rehearsal.
Springler: Counts are only one part of the equation. Muscle groups create motion, and motion creates the pictures, whether in an individual’s body or between a group of individuals.