Renegades January Camp In Review

Dark City Chronicle
January 17th, 2008

“I am sore, tired, achy, strained, and basically mush. But I haven’t felt this excited in years! The demand of the staff is at such an intense pace, that you know by the time the summer hits, we’ll not only be able to do what they’re training us to do, but exceed anything we’ve ever done! I feel like a dork for just wanting to thank everyone who’s helped design this show! Across the board, this is just so much fun!”

- Incredibly concise summation of the January 12-13th Renegade Camp submitted by actual participant.

Thank you for this report, we know just how you feel and you’re not a “dork…”
[And even if you WERE, you’d be “OUR dork!”]

With roughly an hour of sunlight left on Sunday afternoon, the Renegades concluded the season’s second weekend practice by running through three pieces from our 2008 show; “Dark City: Every Night at Midnight, Reality Changes.” This marked the first time the entire corps played together outdoors. The three selections “Prologue to Evil” followed by the drum feature “Metamorphosis” and “Dust in The Wind” were each conducted in turn by five highly talented Drum Major candidates – [“Almost as difficult as choosing a new Pope.” relates Selection Committee.]

This years #7+1 Renegades are clearly from the same mold of the past and already several bright spots are emerging in the 2008 casting.

A larger, more powerful, cymbal-charged Renegades Drumline is approaching capacity numbers. This Drumline personifies the corps wide example to excel, aka “Don’t Suck,” in their playing and in having already held several additional out-of-camp sectionals. Their collective force, emerging cohesion and early season focus is undeniable. Their demonstrated ability to energize the overall corps has many in this organization silently smiling at what awaits audiences (and judges) this summer. How is it even possible that there are still openings in the Pit and who is the yet unknown tympani player destined to become a front line star?

The ReneGuard continues flowering as Mr. Al Yeh, Esq. relates: “Colorguard Caption Mark Metzger & Vince Velasquez have the Renegade’s guard running full throttle. The focus continues on setting the season’s foundations early: the integration of movement, equipment technique and expressive presentation. “The movement block stretched our minds and bodies to understand space and time within the marching field. Providing the visual portion to the music, this year’s equipment work is best described as FAST, INTENSE and AGGRESSIVE – a cool blend of a tiny bit of old school technique interspersed in lots of modern dance/equipment work. This year’s guard show has already been choreographed through the Percussion Break and is coming alive before our eyes as we spin, dance & leap! you loved our 2007 show, we’re charging even harder to be among the best. Don’t wait until spring to join — join us now at the February camp!”

Dark City’s musical foundation will clearly be built upon the Renegade’s Contra section. Since the inception of the Renegades, this group is consistently one of, if not always, THE BEST in DCA. Lacking a more eloquent metaphor, Soprano soloist/instructor Roland Garceau is to the Renegade hornline what James Caan’s fictional character “Jonathan E” is in the 1975 film “Rollerball” – the games’s Champion. Renegades hornline veterans, Staff and section leaders are successfully mentoring the new players into the system. This is an added reason for Renegade veterans to show up early in 2008.

Shaking early morning cobwebs off their charges and occasionally Silly String off himself, Marching Guru Dave Watrus and Staff continue doing something most could only imagine if trapped in Sartre’s “No Exit.” Teaching mostly grown adults, many in varying degrees of “out of marching shape” (for now) and carrying heavy equipment, how to move as a group in time: uniformly, gracefully and efficiently. “And we’ve got two hours to do it.” Somehow they make the group better, every time, without fail. Special recognition goes to Daniel Day, veteran SCV/Renegade marcher and Baritone player, for his unassuming suggestion to the horn and cymbals group concerning the “horn’s up” motion: “Breath in during the counts you’re bringing your instrument up. It establishes a natural rhythm to the motion and ensures you’re ready to play once your horn is up.” The hornline, somewhat stunned by the simplistic logic of this sage advice, managed to smooth out and improve subsequent executions of the “horns up” motion. Champions are built on details and once again, Renegade veterans are invaluable.

Why the heck is everyone openly excited and optimistic as things appear to be going well this year? Is it just early season hype? A secret weapon? Has someone added something to the Kool-Aid? Any explanation behind this positive outlook is for each Renegade to validate or discover individually. Personally, I ask myself two simple questions. “How many seconds, not minutes, during the January camp were the staff member(s) in front of me without a set agenda for what was suppose to be happening and/or I wasn’t engaged, couldn’t be doing something productive?” Answer – “ZERO.” Second question. “How many organizations, career settings, classrooms, et al… have I been in, outside of this year’s Renegades, where I felt the same degree of staff preparedness and deliberate approach to the management of time?” Again, “ZERO.”

I suspect planning the 2008 Renegades began around September 3rd last year during a long plane ride West. I further suspect there is a cocktail glass stained napkin from that flight with something like the following scribbled on the back:
“ ’08 HAVE FUN! – an incredible Staff, ready, efficiently using time to maximize the efforts of a very gifted pool of Talent – RESULT – great start, even better finish. HAVE FUN!” [Napkins are extra big on long flights]. I believe we’re seeing the fruits of that planning already.

Of course, I’m just guessing and as the season moves on, the Kool-Aid thing is always an option.