By Adam Adkins
Before a single person took a step, Mia Michaels told the crowd at the WGI Day-After Dance Class why she was here: she appreciates the art and eccentricity of color guard. And while to the novice, color guard might seem an art more focused on equipment work—flag routines, sabre phrases, rifle tosses—in reality, dance and movement serve as the connective tissue for all color guard shows. It’s an essential part of the art form.
That’s why the UD Arena floor was lined with hundreds of young performers on the Sunday morning following World Class Finals. Good chance most of them didn’t get the requisite eight hours of sleep the night before. But, even after so many rehearsals and pressure-packed performances during the 2019 WGI World Championships, these performers came out because Michaels’ class provides an emotional/physical release and a chance to grow as both a performer and individual.
As the class began to warm up and stretch their improv skills, Michaels shared some wisdom.
“What helps a dancer get noticed is to be unique,” she explained. “You should be yourselves.”
The class worked on different techniques and Michaels kept the class fun, encouraging each performer to embrace their individuality.
“This is your moment to dance for yourself and for no one else,” Michaels said during one sequence.
Sure, these performers all exercise their own creativity as part of their performances (be it guard or otherwise), but after months of drilling one show, it was surely freeing for these performers to focus on only themselves, in particular.
The class continued to move through various techniques, with Michaels narrating the instruction and purpose of each new movement. A hand raised just this way, a spin finishing with just that flourish. One particular explanation of how critical transitions are to a performance—including Michaels’ demonstrator, Bella, doing it the wrong way and then the right way—drew laughter and applause from the participants.
Michaels taught the class a small routine, and, after walking through it a few times, broke the class into three groups—two groups of ladies, one group of guys—and had them practice what they had learned.
“Remember, dance movement is a vocabulary; it’s a language,” Michaels said. “I want you to talk to me!”
One young man named David truly did, and Michaels was so impressed with his performance that she had Bella run through the entire routine with him. Afterward, Michaels explained that, for artists, the highs and lows of life are what fill the creative vacuum. Artists take their joy, sorrow, heartbreak and more, and turn it into creativity.
Near the end, Michaels also stressed how critical it was for them to understand their own originality and to be comfortable with it. Doing so helps eliminate the noise from outside.
“Living life to the fullest and laughing all along the way, even when we’re crying,” Michaels said, right before explaining how a troubling experience as a young performer led her to embrace her passion for choreography. “That had to happen for me, in order for me to become who I was meant to be in the world,” Michaels said.
About the Author: Adam Adkins is a freelance writer and editor, web developer and social media specialist located in Dayton, OH. You can read his sports writing at www.AdkinsonSports.com or follow him on Twitter @RealAdamAdkins.