About Coach Erin

Erin is a 17 year veteran dance team coach in Minnesota. A 3 time MADT coach of the year (2009, 2010, 2014) and winner of 2 state championships in high kick with the Cannon Falls Bomber Dance Team. In high school Erin danced for Winona and Apple Valley high schools. Erin is a nationally known blogger, writing for the Radio City Rockettes and a Hollywood movie among other projects. Erin also teaches on a freelance contractor basis for many MN high school teams and can be contacted for date/time availability at mnhsdanceteam@gmail.com


Finding Inspiration: Formations from Drum Corps

Formations and Transitions can be a sticky subject for some teams who perfect dances all year and can’t seem to get that magic “kaleidoscope effect” to take them to the top.  I’ve got some suggestions for new ideas that don’t include a copy and paste of someone else’s idea, and it can be found in drum corps.  I’d suggest checking out something from DCI – Drum Corps International. 
I love all things drum corps when it comes to formations and incorporating musicality into transitioning.  (Something that is an extra edge in dance team if you can think the way they do)  There are endless YouTube videos for drum corps, search for groups like the Cadets, the Blue Devils, and my visual favorite- the Cavaliers.  Look for groups in uniform – that is the easiest way to see what they’re up to. 
Every July there is a great show at TCF Bank Stadium where performances from over 24 groups gives you a chance to soak in some amazing live visual music interpretation.  While not everyone is a band geek deep down – this is not to be missed.  In August, the DCI championships in Indiana are broadcast live in movie theaters where I bring a pen and graph paper to go with my popcorn.  Tickets for this event were $18 and considerably better air-conditioned than the TCF stadium event (it was record heat that day!)
One tip for dealing with drum corps inspiration is to really filter their stuff well.  A lot of the circular or a-symmetrical stuff will not work well on our “field” and some things might not translate to our tempo, but I encourage you to use it as “what can I do with that now?”  I like to take something slow or a-symmetrical and think about how to adapt it by asking a few key questions – “what exactly makes this cool?”, “how can I fit it into a reasonable transition time for dance team?”, and “how can this be translated on a smaller group?”  These kinds of things can help you get past the fact that it’s not cut and paste ready to go. 
If you have trouble seeing it – I’ve posted links to a section from 2010 Santa Clara Vanguard doing a “crunch and pivot” while the outside red colored guard members expand.   (From beginning of the video)  This was used by my Cannon Falls team prior to heading into straightline. (3:05-3:25 in the video) Then Santa Clara goes into a great “diamond spin” that expands an X – that was the inspiration for the opening of the Cannon dance, in a vague sense, since it didn’t translate well to dance team for how LONG it took to complete.  5 formations for dance team from 30 seconds of drum corps video.  And it didn’t appear to be copying anything –rather it had a nice inspiration and we knew it would work because we’d seen the effect before.  The key was to focus on maintaining the effect we liked rather than copying beat for beat.
Have fun and get creative!  There is a wealth of new formations out there – I can’t wait to see what you come up with.  Post links to favorites in the comments:

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