Controversial, Yet Thought Provoking
April 4, 2017
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By David Hill
From Whitman and Wakefield, Massachusetts, Emerald Marquis was directed by Dale Powers — who now serves as WGI’s Director of Color Guard — for all of its 20 years: 1981 - 2001.
Marquis was a WGI World Class finalist all 20 years, won ten consecutive medals from 1991-2000, and was the 1999 WGI World Class Champion.
Director Powers described what epitomized Emerald Marquis. “In an area of the country where there were at times five World Class finalists, we never seemed to have a problem drawing members because we offered what certain types of members wanted: to always be competitive and always offer something unique.
“I think the Emerald Marquis changed the way guard programs are designed. Many of our programs were designed without recycling anything we had done previously. We always wanted people to say ‘I may not like them, but I don't want to miss them.’”
Finally, Dale speculated of Marquis’ influence on the color guard world today. “The organization only had 223 members in its 20-year history and over 35 are still designing and teaching today.”
Emerald Marquis Performer Jennifer (Permer) Oswald said the 1991 guard was the guard’s breakout year. “I was thunderstruck. These members were changing the landscape of the written vocabulary. They were performing double-backhands, spinning flags in and around their legs and even throwing rifle 6’s using sheer muscle strength without a prep from port with the tip on the ground.”
Also … incorporation of drill. “They did everything at crazy fast tempos, moving in and around one another, which took their vocabulary into the stratosphere.”
Kronos Quartet’s “Amazing Grace” in 1992 was influential; there were sounds, not tempos, that brought a stylistic diversity and an intriguing intellectual quality.
Former performer and long-time color guard professional Adam Sage remembered some emotional times for Emerald Marquis. He was a new member to the guard: “Finally getting to work with George Zingali was something that I was looking forward to greatly. His passion and love to create was something that was immediately felt when he walked into the room.
“George sketched out every staged moment with quotes about life and the emotional journey of that part of the program ‘Candide.’ In spite of challenging choreography and staging, it was his ability to push each of us in such an encouraging way that I remember so well.
“It was clear that he brought something new that helped move Emerald Marquis in a brand new direction for the next 10 years. He paved the way for Emerald to create such cutting edge design in the activity every year that followed.”
Jennifer added: “Fifteen years after they performed their final show, Emerald Marquis is still a huge influence in color guard. So many guards are now pushing the envelope; in vocabulary, in demand, in creativity, and in artistry. Many of these skills were first unveiled by Emerald Marquis.
About the Author: David Hill is a former Communications Director for Winter Guard International, and volunteered for Drum Corps International for 20 years. A long-time writer on all things pageantry, he was a marketing / fundraising executive in Birmingham, AL for 40 years. David is now retired and lives in Pensacola, FL, where he continues restoration of his 100-year-old cottage, is writing a memoir, honing his baking skills, lending a volunteer hand to four local non-profits, and pal-ing around with his Hurricane Katrina evacuee and buddy, Purvis.