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How to Enjoy a Synchronized Drill Team - Steppin' with Book Carts, Bathing Beauties, and Janet Jackson
What is a Drill Team?
The notion of "drill team" may have begun after World War I and World War II, when the armed forces of the Allies returned from battle and performed synchronized marching and weaponry- carry in parades in public, in military reviews, air shows, and in veterans' organization events.
Since that era, drill teams have taken on a myriad of forms and props. I think it may be safe to say that if you have a group of almost any type, you can have a drill team.
- Military drill teams - These often demonstrate bayonett-affixed rifle juggling and are mainstays of many armed forces around the world.
- Equestrian drill teams - Don't miss the videos below.
- Motorcycle and Bicycle drill teams (see video below)
- Dance teams, including step teams - These teams are becoming highly popular on TV and Cable TV talent shows.
- Martial Arts demo teams with some choreographed routines and kata or hyung (form patterns).
- Color Guard - drill teams the maneuver flags in comopetition
- Cheer Squads - Not only a fixture in middle and high schools, these teams have spread through K-12 schools across the USA and to community recreation centers, clubs, and dance instructional schools. Local, state, regional, and national competitions are held several times every year.
- Drum and Bugle Corps and their Dance Auxiliaries - Regional and national competitions are fascinating to attend.
- Gymnastics Teams - These have become trinaing grounds for future Olympians world wide, in schools, government institutions, and private academies.
- NOVELTY GROUPS - American Library Association's Book Cart Competitions; Doo Dah Parades' marching briefcase corps, lawnmower drill team; Juggling Teams, and many others.
Check your local news media for performances by any number of drill team performing groups in your area. Some of these events are even free to the public.
Synchronized Swimming-USA Team, 2007 FINA World Championship
Fred Hill Briefcase Drill Team, since 1984
Doo Dah, Doo Dah
I have heard that The Doo Dah Parade began in early 1970s' San Francisco as an alternative to 4th of July Parades, in response to the Viet Nam Conflict. It began very close to this time in Columbus, Ohio as well, for the same reason. However, The Pasadena Doo Dah Parade was formed in 1976 as a good-natured farce to parody the hard work and formality of the New Year's Day Rose Parade. It has spread to many cities in America at this point.
Kooky elements of the Doo Dah Parade include drill teams dressed in night gowns, carrying breifcases, pushing lawn mowers, swining glof clubs, and disguised as past presidents. I saw one team of a dozen or so men all wearing Richard Nixon costumes and waving his signature gestures to the crowds.
The Fred Hill Briefcase Drill Team began as a fun novelty advertisement for a men's clothing store, but it's members wanted to continue performing after the store closed in 1992. These days, they march in the annual Macy's Day Parade.
Gotta Sing, Gotta Dance
I love the synchronized choreography of this particular number (below) from Rhythm Nation 1814.
Often I have used this video to instruct my martial arts students in what "synchornized" form patterns should look like - in synch, with energy and with feeling, but no funny faces. I love the black and white presentation of the video and I love the music, harmonies, and the beat -- When I hear it, I cannot sit still. At the end of this Hub is a newer version of this older number.
If I ever decided to have a funeral or memorial, I think I'd like to have this cut featured near the beginning of the programmed videos I'd like shown, along with Elvis's rendition of the classic gospel number Run On.
Janet Jackson - Rhythm Nation 1814
US Armed Forces
Every branch of the armed services in the Untied States boasts a crack drill team. Here are a few of them.
USMC Silent Drill Platoon
The United States Navy
What!? - Yes, Ellen Degeneres
Keep On Steppin'
Groups of young people stood on street corners and the steps of brownstone apartments in the urban areas of our country and sang, scatted, and rapped in the 1940s and 1950s. In The 50s and 60s, a Doo Wap and the Motown styles emerged and led to the formation of a number of successful singing groups.
Since the 1980s, singing and rap numbers helped develop the step dancing style, especially among our African American populations. Kids do it in the school yard and fraternities and sororities at college hold competitions,. Movies are made about them all.
Stepping probably stemmed from the early street corner singing groups with some ex-military members in them after World War II. We know that it combines elements of military close-order formations and demonstration drill. However, it includes African elements as well - dancing like the "Welly gumboot" steps made popular by South Africans in their rubber Wellington boots.
Popular Motown and R & B singing groups always had moves to their music - The Spinners, Little Anthony and The Imperials, The Four Tops Even the Blind Boys from Alabama had moves.
Put all of this together with some local innovations and we have the art, the culture, and discipline of step dancing.
Law Enforcement Drill Teams
Please enjoy the video of a performance by an Itallian Police Force Motorcycle Drill Team in the early 1950s.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police offer their drill team called The RCMP Musical Ride in various venues around the US as well as in Canada. I first saw them at the Ohio State Fair during one of the nightly horse show events. They received a standing ovation.