Color guard lets its flags fly

Apr 1, 2021

Audiences are back inside Dartmouth High School’s gym, as a limited number of guests gathered to watch the color guard perform in the New England Scholastic Band Association’s spring show on March 31.

Although the season has been held virtually thus far, with performances recorded to video and uploaded or submitted to competitions for online viewing, the past week has seen Covid safety restrictions relaxed. 

On Wednesday, each performer was allowed to bring two people to see the show.

Parents and friends were scattered around the stands, cheering as kids in costume danced and threw flags in two different performances.

The Varsity team performed “Tourada a corda,” a Portuguese matador-themed show in which some of the flags were mounted on ropes instead of poles.

Meanwhile the A Guard — made up of middle school students — showed off their take of the musical “Six,” based on the wives of Henry VIII.

Both groups have made it to the semifinals of the Winter Guard International tournament out of hundreds of groups, noted Music Director Ian Flint.

“It’s definitely been a whole different experience with people back in the stands,” he said. “The energy of the students is totally different.”

Color guard director Addison Kaeterle said that the virtual season has been different as well.

“Normally, on a regular show season, we’d be getting on a bus, we’d be travelling,” he said. “So we’re used to that. It’s just different now. Championships are just in the gym at Dartmouth High School.”

And the team’s rehearsal time is “much more limited” than it has been in the past, Kaeterle said. “The kids have been doing a great job keeping up with it and rising to the challenge.”

“They’ve put together a high caliber show in a third of the time,” he told the audience before the performance. 

Many of the performers agreed with his assessment of the show.

Senior and co-captain of the varsity team Madison Bettencourt said that this was probably her favorite production of the seven years she’s been in the winter guard.

“I love our show,” she said. “It’s very sophisticated.”

Both Bettencourt and fellow senior and co-captain Ryley Thatcher said they enjoyed the season despite the differences.

“I think for what we had, it’s nice to have a season to really focus,” noted Bettencourt.

“It’s just really good to see everyone,” added Thatcher.

As for the live audience, Bettencourt said it was “definitely a little nerve wracking” to have people watching for the first time in a year — but “it’s refreshing to have that pressure again,” she added.

“I definitely missed the energy of the audience, so it’s good to have that back,” Thatcher said.

Friends and families were also thrilled to watch live.

“We do miss our traditions, like going to nationals,” said Suzanne Souza, who was supporting her grandson Jesse Walker in his role as the bull. “[But] something’s better than nothing!”

“They’re always amazing,” noted family friend Bernadette Mateus. “I thought it was a great show.”