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East Lincoln Winter Guard celebrates successful season

MICHELLE T. BERNARD
Staff Writer

The Varsity Cheval Winter Guard from East Lincoln High School has had a very successful season of competition. Most recently they were the Carolina Winter Ensemble Association Scholastic A Gold Medalists and also regional finalists with the Winter Guard International (WGI) Knoxville, WGI Mid-Atlanta Power and were finalists with the WGI World Championships Scholastic A competition.

“This is a tremendous achievement for the group and to my knowledge, they are only the second group in county history to accomplish this,” guard director Rachel Stamey said. “The other group was the 2011 East Lincoln Cheval Guard. In addition, we run a JV Petite Guard, who are now the 2017 CWEA Scholastic AA Gold Medalists.”

The show title for this year is “If I Don’t Have You” in which the 12-member group performs to Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing,” telling the story of orphans longing for a family, according to Stamey. The image on the show floor when they perform is of a ragged teddy bear and a crying child. The colors of the ensemble – the floor image, the flags and uniforms — are a monochrome of grays intended to create a somber emotion. Toward the end of the song, the mood shifts and the members use rose-colored silks to finish. They are scored by five judges – one who watches movement and dance, one who watches their equipment skills and training, one who looks at design analysis and two who judge general effect.

“We put on the floor a performance that incorporates rifle, flag and saber work,” Cheval Winter Color Guard co-captain Mary Hannah Wilson said. “We bring music to life.”

Unlike the regular color guard, which performs outside and with a band, winter color guard programs are held indoors and the music is usually recorded music rather than a band or orchestra. The routines were originally derived from military ceremonies or veterans’ organizations ceremonies.

“I saw the East Lincoln High School color guard perform at the middle school,” Cameron Naramore said. “They talked about friendship and gaining confidence and it was really convincing. The show was so beautiful I wanted to do it too so I decided to join. I really don’t enjoy that many sports and am really glad I joined and am a part of the group.”

The color guard is part of the band at East Lincoln High School. In the fall they operate as the group that visually tells the story and during the marching band season they are in character, according to Stamey. Last season they did an abbreviated version of “Wicked” and all of the members were painted green and played Elphaba, the wicked witch.

“The most challenging part about color guard for me anyway is we have to balance out our school work,” Katie Elliott said. “The week before we went to Knoxville, we put 25 hours into practicing. It takes a lot of time. All of us have really good grades in our classes.”

The solo male member of the guard is sophomore Acacio Silva. He would love to do winter color guard outside of high school when he graduates.

“The feeling you get while you are on the floor and the connection you have with the other members is a great feeling,” he said.

After spending so much time together, there may be some friction but this year, they are all really close, according to Wilson.

“They’re together all the time and form bonds just like they were family,” Stamey said. “Sometimes families don’t get along all the time but they always make it work on the floor because what they do cannot work without each other.”

A video of the guard’s semi-finals run from the worlds competition is available online at   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5XqczStNaYM&feature=youtu.be

Auditions for the fall guard are May 8, 9, and 11 from 3:30-6:30 p.m. at East Lincoln High School. No experience is necessary to try out.

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