Winter guard’s first competition of the season

Rhea Gupta, Staff Writer

A jazzy tune reverberates throughout Chino Hills High School’s gym all while white flags, spotted with colorful music notes, dance through the air. The music, like a puppeteer, guides the performers as they move through the movements flawlessly. At the first winter guard competition of the season and the first since the pandemic hit, Northwood’s winter guard presented their show “Ev’rybody Wants to Be a Cat” on Jan. 29.
This first performance served as winter guard’s evaluation show, which will place them in their division for their next upcoming competition.
“The coach gets judged on the choreography and equipment work they write, and we as performers are judged for how well they executed their coach’s plan, personal skills and personal techniques,” winter guard captain senior Rachel Gunawan said. “One pointer the judge gave us was getting into character for our performance, acting like a cat.”
The show theme was chosen as a continuation of the Disney theme used during marching band season where most winter guard members performed as a part of color guard. Northwood color guard coach Rebekah Daigh opted for a modern twist on the original song from “The Aristocats,” brought to life by incorporating dramatic cat-like movements and jazz elements to hone into the cat character with costumes of hats with cat ears.

ㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤEllie Chan DON’T LET YOUR GUARD DOWN: Freshman Caitlyn Tran excitedly talks to sophomore Anika Aloni in their cat costumes.

Training for winter guard members began in November, when captains instructed performers on both basic and advanced techniques. Using this new knowledge, they could further their understanding of equipment movement such as basic tosses and flourishes of the flags and toy rifles. The subsequent months were spent incorporating the skills obtained from basic techniques into the dance-infused choreography, subject to constant revision according to the needs and wants of the group.

“Everyone was worried about having something to show for all the days we spent at rehearsals learning and the added struggle of the constantly changing drill,” winter guard member sophomore Anika Aloni said. “For the actual show, I was so busy having fun performing that it felt like I blinked and we had done the whole show.”
The team continues to practice every school day from 7:10-8:10 a.m. in a space encompassing approximately a third of the gym. Although the area is much smaller compared to the large football field utilized during the marching band season, members are able to interact more during the partner work.
“There’s this new move where we put the flags together to create a limbo pole; so, what the tosser has to do is toss one of the flags over the pole, duck under the flag and catch the pole on the other side,” Gunawan said.
The aforementioned move is one of several new acts to be added in the team’s later competitions, with multiple shows to be held in the upcoming weeks, including one on Feb. 19 at Huntington Beach and another on March 5. Northwood’s winter guard continues to strive for perfection while still incorporating many unique elements to enhance their performance.