Balancing Tradition and Innovation

One of the things I enjoy most about The Marching Virginians is its deep sense of tradition.  Some of our traditions even date back to the origin of The Marching Virginians.  But where do we draw the line between tradition and contemporary?  Old and new? Past and Present?  The Marching Virginians, particularly the flag corps, has a unique way of blending styles!

Traditional routines for color guard are defined by sharp and emphasized movements called “pops and stops.”  Tech Triumph, Power Closer, and countless other classic routines contain this style.  I was first exposed to this style when I learned Tech Triumph as a rookie flag and could not stop smiling while I was learning the new style. 

Drum Major Ashlyn McDonald during a traditional show; Source: Facebook

Drum Major Ashlyn McDonald during a traditional show; Source: Facebook

Performing more traditional shows, such as the Marching Virginians pregame performance, creates a connection between Marching Virginians alumni and current members.  Countless MV alumni have performed the Hokie Pokie and Tech Triumph, therefore it is almost a rite of passage as a Marching Virginian to perform these classic songs.  

Furthermore, the audience loves the Virginia Tech themed shows! When the band makes the VT on the field, the crowd explodes in applause.  As “The Spirit of Tech”, it feels great to electrify the audience and remind them of the joy of being a hokie.

“I think the traditional Virginia Tech shows are the most fun to perform, because the crowd gets really into it.”

- Sierra Hepner, Color Guard Graduate Student 

Contemporary color guard routines tend to have smoother movements with seamless transitions between phrases.  Superhero, Queen, and more modern shows are examples of contemporary routines.  Since the contemporary style is constantly evolving, there is an endless amount possibility for choreography.

“With contemporary shows, you don’t necessarily have to abide by the technique taught in the traditional style, because part of a contemporary show is creating something new!”

– Olivia Monseur, Color Guard Senior

The Marching Virginians forming the Batman symbol during the Superhero show; Source: Matt McHugh

The Marching Virginians forming the Batman symbol during the Superhero show; Source: Matt McHugh

With modern show concepts, we are able to give the audience a new and exciting experience while at the same time creating a unique set of memories.  Out of all my performances the past two years in The Marching Virginians, the audience was the most animated during the Queen show, illustrating that the audience can love both modern and classic shows.

“My favorite show we’ve done since being at Virginia Tech has definitely been the Queen show because of the music and innovative choreography!”

- Sierra Hepner

Since classic shows stay the same every season, after a marcher has learned it for the first time, they might not be as engaged while learning the show again. New shows are a great way to ensure that all marchers are challenged. 

“[In contemporary color guard routines,] We can introduce more complicated choreography that challenges our members while showing something new to the audience.”

– Olivia Monseur

            The Marching Virginians are characterized by blending traditional and contemporary performances.  While new ideas are introduced every season, we are still able to preserve the timeless traditions of The Marching Virginians. 

“I really enjoy doing a mix of both modern and traditional shows, because it gives the audience something new to look forward to and something nostalgic.”

-Sara Elwood, Trumpet Junior

By incorporating both new and classic shows into the season repertoire, The Marching Virginians can provide a different set of experiences to both the performers and the audience.  Hopefully, The Marching Virginians will continue the tradition of blending various different styles long after we graduate; when we visit years later, we can reminisce about the classic Virginia Tech music while being impressed by what the newer generation is accomplishing.