Corp Spotlight: The Academy

The Academy, founded in 2001, began as a small division II corp. Fifteen years later, Academy has finally made it to the distiquished honor of being a “Top 12” corp. The 2016 Academy show, “Drum Corpse Bride”, finishing in 11th place,  upheld a massive improvement to their 2015 season, where the corp came in at 15th. This post will highlight some of the best moments and general layout of the Academy’s 2016 production. Let’s get to it!

The Academy’s show, “Drum Corps Bride”, follows the marriage of man and woman, beginning very cheerfully. The mood quickly turns darker, as the woman is suddenly cornered by death, where the man is too late to save her. From here, the man attempts to stun his guilt, imagining her as a dancer. The man then seems to be called by death as the music gets faster, until he too is taken. The music turns to a softer side, as the transition of life to death, until finally the man and woman meet again in the afterlife, embracing each other. In my opinion, the Academy’s show was extremely captivating, truly deep, and stirred many emotions inside me. The Academy definitely deserved their place among the top corps in the world with this beautiful show.

The Academy’s show had quite a few special moments to help drive this production into the top 12. First, the corp took its time to take the field, quickly forming a heart and playing a magnificent brass impact to start their show. These impacts litter the first half of the opener, including a trumpet feature to reinforce the idea of the dead woman dancing. Pit members dressed as skeletons then enter the field, climbing atop grave stones and playing their “ribs” with the snare line to create a unique feature. Immediantly following the feature, the brass line creates a cross and gears up for a massive brass hit. The production meanders on until the music speeds up and becomes more harmonical, or more clashing, as the man begins to approach death. The man then dies as the corp lays down among the grave stones, playing the same chord as when the woman died.

The music grows subtle, as the corp transitions into a ballad. Pictured above, a corp member then retrieves a flugelhorn and begins to play “Unchained Melody”, a beautiful solo work. The music does down, as the corp repositions on the field and the woman is finally reconnected with her lost love. The graves return to chairs, and the woman and man dance into the middle of the field. The corp members follow suit, playing the lovely melody that the show started out with, filling the rows with the rest of the corp forming a heart. Absolutely one of the most stunning shows I have ever seen.

Thanks for stopping by! As always, please click here to view the entire Academy’s 2016 production!


Marching Drum Corp: Behind the Scenes

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Lights. Camera. Action! To many new drum corp fans, this is the only aspect of Drum Corp they see. In this post, we’ll venture into the forgotten, arduous rehearsals and late nights to see how our favorite shows come to life. Let’s get right into it, shall we?

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Let’s take a look at the audition process to get into a top corp. First, new members have to attend what’s called an audition camp, given that they are in the age range 16-21, which is the mandatory age limit. These audition camps are weekend long camps usually located at high schools across the country, including right here at Carrollton High School. These camps at first are where members can go for a day and get feed back from the corp’s staff for their auditions. Camps then turn into weekend camps once a month at the location of the corp’s headquarters. These camps will be filled with a measly 300-400 participants out of the thousands that first began their journey. After these camps, members will receive one of 3 things: A contract, a callback, or you are cut.

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Congrats! You’ve been accepted into your dream corp! Now it’s time to sell your soul to the devil. This journey across the country with your new family can cost up to $4,000, while also giving up your entire summer, with the regular season starting in May and ending in August. When you come to accept these final steps, you are officially ready to start your drum corp journey. The first thing to look forward to: Dawn to dusk practices, every day, for weeks on end until tour time.

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The rehearsals for these top corps are grueling. Essentials include gallon water jugs for each member, including a river of sunscreen. On top of the heat, exhaustion can set into unprepared members, with rehearsals lasting between 10-14 hours, with the only breaks being meals and 5 minute water breaks. Only a single day in a week or two is allowed to be an off day. You might be asking yourself “why on earth would any one want to do such a thing to themselves?”. Any corp alumni can tell you that through all of the blood, sweat, and tears, the experiences and relationships built during the season are life changing. Corp members also get to preform in front of audiences consisting of tens of thousands of eager fans, with hundreds of thousands streaming the performances.

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You’ve made it through the first weeks of the ridiculously demanding practices to finally be on the road. Instead of straight weeks of all day rehearsals, you now mix in shows and events around the country. At these shows, you will have to complete your final practice before taking the field. These warm ups, which are commonly referred to as “lots”, are the hidden gems of drum corp. Fans are allowed to be up close and personal with the corps as they warm up, with many corps playing corp songs as a tradition. Here is a list of examples for your enjoyment!

This concludes our behind the scenes look at drum corps. I hope you enjoyed as always! For an even closer look at corp members rockin’ it out on the field, click here for a head cam video of lead trumpet and trumpet soloist for the Bluecoats, Ben Gunnarson.