Vanguard Music and Performing Arts has a new look for 2017. Doing away–at least temporarily–with its signature Aussie hat, and exchanging the red “V” on Vanguard’s star badges for a black one, the new look and 2017 show, Ouroboros, was locally debuted at Vanguard’s “family day” Pacific Procession show at Santa Clara High School on June 26.
Performing to David Gillingham’s Interplay for Piano Four Hands, Peter Graham’s The Triumph of Time, Zhou Long’s Song of Eight Unruly Tipsy Poets, Amin Bhati’s Into a Virtual World and Stephen Melillo’s Remembering the Future (from Wait of the World), Ouroboros celebrates Vanguard’s history while looking ahead.
“The word and title came about from an image that I saw with the circle on it and I think that for Vanguard’s 50th anniversary it’s important to look forward into the future but to also look back and it just so happens that this particular image is just about that,” sand Visual Program Coordinator Andy Toth. “It’s about looking forward and recreating yourself but in order to do that you have to look back and have some introspection.”
When it came to uniform changes, Vanguard’s visual team chose to do away with the Aussie hat fans have come to associate with Vanguard–partially to give Vanguard members a closer connection to the audience and partially to avoid on-field mishaps with corps members who perform on Rhönrads, or gymnastics wheel props used throughout the show.
“The best part is that we can see their faces this year and that has been a great surprise so far, working with the brass and the percussion who are typically below their hat and now they have the ability to make eye contact with people and affect people that way and that’s just going to open up a who other door for the performance for Vanguard,” said Toth.
This year’s costumes are also more form fitting than audiences have seen in past years, with the circular shaped Ouroboros (snake eating its tail) symbol showcased on both drum corps and color guard uniforms.
“You’ll see the Ourobours shape in the design of the costume,” said Toth. “It was super important to us that we keep the star as part of the uniform and this year there’s a black ‘V’ in the center and that is to honor all who have passed away in the Vanguard.”
Reactions to the changes have been mixed, with many long-time fans criticizing the move away from Vanguard’s traditional look, but judges appear to be enjoying the new show. Vanguard narrowly placed second to the Blue Devils of Concord, at DCI West at Stanford University on June 25, and again fell just short of taking the top spot from its rival at the Drum Corps at the Rose Bowl show on July 1. In its most recent show on July 8 at DCI Minnesota in Minneapolis, Vanguard took the top spot, edging out the Bluecoats of Canton, Ohio 80.2 to 80.1. It was a feat that hadn’t been accomplished by Vanguard since the first time the corps performed against each other in 2014–39 head-to-head matchups ago.
Vanguard will continue to tour the country before its season culminates at the DCI World Championships in Indianapolis Aug. 10-12.