Breaking News Bar
posted: 6/15/2013 10:05 AM

Color guard team helps kids build skill, self-esteem

hello
Success - Article sent! close
  • Eric Hall, director of the Allegiance Youth Color Guard of Dundee, tells his A team, made up of youths ages 14 to 22, where to go to enter the competition gymnasium at Batavia High School earlier this year.

       Eric Hall, director of the Allegiance Youth Color Guard of Dundee, tells his A team, made up of youths ages 14 to 22, where to go to enter the competition gymnasium at Batavia High School earlier this year.
    photos by John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • The Allegiance Youth Color Guard Cadets, made up of kids ages 6 to 13, practice their 3-minute routine at Sunny Hill School in Carpentersville.

       The Allegiance Youth Color Guard Cadets, made up of kids ages 6 to 13, practice their 3-minute routine at Sunny Hill School in Carpentersville.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • The A squad performs in a competition at Batavia High School earlier this year. The group took third place in their division in the Midwest Circuit Championships in Dayton, Ohio.

       The A squad performs in a competition at Batavia High School earlier this year. The group took third place in their division in the Midwest Circuit Championships in Dayton, Ohio.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • The Allegiance Youth Color Guard Cadet squad performs earlier this year at Batavia High School. The team earned a first-place in April at the Midwest Circuit Championships in Laporte, Ind. The group is looking for more members, along with gymnasiums to use for rehearsals.

       The Allegiance Youth Color Guard Cadet squad performs earlier this year at Batavia High School. The team earned a first-place in April at the Midwest Circuit Championships in Laporte, Ind. The group is looking for more members, along with gymnasiums to use for rehearsals.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Assistant Director Don Wiles hugs Eric Hall, director of Allegiance Youth Color Guard of Dundee, after a performance as the cadet squad watches. The performing arts group incorporates dance, theater, props, and traditional color guard marching into a judged, 3-minute competition performance.

       Assistant Director Don Wiles hugs Eric Hall, director of Allegiance Youth Color Guard of Dundee, after a performance as the cadet squad watches. The performing arts group incorporates dance, theater, props, and traditional color guard marching into a judged, 3-minute competition performance.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer

 
 

Watching from across a gymnasium as his youth color guard rehearses, Eric Hall sees flags and other props clatter to the floor.

Instead of seeing a mistake, he sees only growth. He smiles, knowing the next try will be better and the flag spinner will be hooked.

This is how he builds his champion Allegiance Youth Color Guard of Dundee team. Hundreds of hours of spinning, throwing, falling flags and then success and more smiles.

"It brings a lot of kids out of their shells," Hall said. "Most of the kids come in with minimal to no skills. They start feeling achievement, and that's when their interest takes off."

Competition youth color guard is not starched soldiers bearing flags and staring ahead as they march in formation. This color guard combines theater and dance with traditional aspects of marching color guard. The teams are taught choreographed routines to prerecorded music, and they use colorful flags, imitation rifles, sabers and other visual props.

Once they've mastered the routines, the teams travel and perform in judged competitions around the Midwest.

Allegiance offers two winter guard teams based on age and skill level and has had back-to-back Midwest Circuit Championships.

The latest championship came in April in Laporte, Ind., when the cadet squad, made up of kids ages 6 to 13, won the gold. The A team, made up of youth ages 14 to 22, won the bronze a week later in Dayton, Ohio.

The nonprofit, coed youth group competes most weekends, January through April. Competitions are held in gymnasiums. There are currently about 25 to 30 members, although Hall would love to have more kids join.

Hall, director and founder of the organization, comes from a marching band background and performed color guard in college. He said summer is preparation time for the winter competition season.

"Winter guard teaches teamwork and performance skills, while building self-confidence and self-esteem," he says.

Most of the performers on the cadet squad come in with minimal skills.

"This is where they start to spin and learn the basics of spinning equipment and performing," Hall explains. "Parents have found out that this activity does straighten them out a lot."

Most of the members, he said, come from Carpentersville, East and West Dundee, and the Dundee Township area.

"There are a lot of disciplinary aspects to just standing at attention, walking from here to there, and then you get into more responsibilities. Now you walk and keep in step with music and spin your equipment at the same time.

"Skills keep building and building and the shows get more fantastic. They start having these successes, and before you know it, they're hooked.

"The old color guard formation and marching is still there but has given way to dance. The precision has to still be there. The payback is they get a lot from this."

The productions themselves take a whole season to perfect, with rehearsals for the cadet squad lasting two hours, three times a week. The competition performances last only 6-7 minutes.

Five judges watch every aspect of the group performance, including the use of props, movement of the performers, overall effect and the timing of the show. Just a second too long means points off.

"There is so much packed into these shows," Hall says.

To find out more, contact Eric Hall at director@allegianceyouth.org.

Share this page
Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.