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This guard sabers its moment

Bainbridge High School senior Abbey Heller waves her flag in rehearsal with the BHS Winter Guard in Paski Gymnasium. The team will host its first competition next Saturday.  - Brad Camp/Staff Photo
Bainbridge High School senior Abbey Heller waves her flag in rehearsal with the BHS Winter Guard in Paski Gymnasium. The team will host its first competition next Saturday.
— image credit: Brad Camp/Staff Photo

If a high school marching band provides halftime’s musical heart, then the color guard creates its visual soul.

Yet until last year, the Bainbridge High School marching band played the field with no color guard in attendance.

“I felt like the marching band was missing something,” director Kelsey Michie said. “And that would be the color guard. There’s only so much that band members can do marching around without the dance and the color – it just seemed a little flat to me.”

The color guard is that kinetic corps that accompanies the band by dancing and twirling its way across the field, handling dramatic props like swords, rifles and colored flags as it goes.

“The color guard adds more interest to the marching band because they use flag and dance to convey the message that we’re trying to get across to the audience,” Michie said. “Is the piece that we’re playing happy or sad? What is the mood? What is the message? They add so much more to the production.”

According to Michie, most high school bands have a color guard.

So when she signed on at the start of the 2006-2007 school year, she quickly set about putting a team in place, calling on color guard veteran and instructor Kate Baerlocher to coach.

That effort generated enough student interest and success that this year, the two took things further by starting a winter guard team – a breed of color guard that performs indoors and without a band alongside it, leaving the guard to own the floor.

Next Saturday in Paski Gymnasium, that’s what the BHS Winter Guard team hopes to do as for the first time it hosts a winter guard competition featuring 14 teams from around the Northwest.

The BHS team’s performance is choreographed to “Apres Moi” by Russian singer-songwriter Regina Spektor.

Baerlocher describes the song’s story as one of overcoming angst and turmoil.

“So for our show, we’re trying to portray that on the floor,” she said. “And as a new color guard, what we’ve been trying to work on over the last two years is to get the students to learn the basic elements of using the equipment in the proper way.”

That includes learning to toss and manipulate the not-insubstantial tools and also to master dance basics and body movement, all while conveying the intended mood with bronze- and crimson-hued costumes and flags.

Baerlocher has performed color guard herself since eighth grade, and she’s passionate about bringing winter guard to Bainbridge.

“We’re really hoping (the community) will step out to support us and cheer us on, and to learn what this is about,” she said. “Color guard goes back many, many years, and no one knows what it’s about.”

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Guard the spirit

The Bainbridge High School Winter Guard will host its first annual winter guard competition from 1-8 p.m. March 15 at Paski Gymnasium. Fourteen groups from across the Northwest will perform. For more information, call 780-1647.

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