by Bruce Strand, Arts editor
The hometown crowd got a good look at District 728’s successful drumline and color guard teams when Elk River hosted a competition this past Saturday.
River Valley Percussion Theatre (RVPT) and River Valley Winter Guard (RVWG) both gave performances but as host team were not involved in the competition, as is the custom in this activity.
The RVWG girls, adorned in celestial white, performed to a somber theme of “Heaven’s Rocking Chair.” As captain Lauren Hipsad of ERHS explains, it’s about “the feeling off loss, of a brother or sister, who slowly dies, and realizes what is happening.” The child is portrayed by the younger sister of one of the dancers, sitting in a rocker and holding a teddy bear, surrounded by the dancers. A mother’s poem caps the performance.
Asked what’s the appeal of joining RVWG, Hipsad says, “We like it because there’s a lot of dance, which we call movement in winter guard but it’s based on dance, and the extra bonus is that you get to use flags and rifles and toss things around. It’s just a fun experience.”
RVWG has had two firsts and two seconds in competitions. RVPT has won all four outings.
RVPT is as macho and boisterous as the RVWG is feminine and serene. Their theme is “Mechanism” as the performers depict gears and other machine parts. The girls in the group have slicked-back hair like boys.
“We are like alien people, different people,” said co-captain Jake Esterberg about the show.
“Metal people who have gears,” added Jacque Gaetz, the other co-captain. “In one of our movements we all kind of rust out, and one guy goes back to life and ‘un-rusts’ the rest of us! There was a thunder storm and we don’t like rain.”
Esterberg said the appeal of drumline is “the reaction we get, like tonight, the crowd going crazy,” similar to marching band, which many members also participate in.
“That gives us the adrenaline rush,” seconded Gaetz. “We all love music so much that we want to express it any way we can, and we found this, which is a really cool idea.”
Themes were created by Tom Gallus and Sarah Gallus. Tom Gallus is director. The staff includes Joe Jaeger, Kelly Elledge, Matt Mann, Nina Zywicki and Liz Johnson.
Among the visiting groups, the main crowd-pleaser was Minnesota Brass Indoor, a college-age group based in St. Paul which includes several District 728 graduates. The MBI, which usually does well nationally, had a green “Dandelion” theme this year with performers sporting yellow hair like sprouting dandelions while marching on a vast grassy field.
The ERHS gym was close to filled on one side with some spillover to the other side for the performances Saturday.
The groups compete about twice a month.