Samia Mooney, Movement Supervisor of the Bluecoats and Dance Director of Avon High School, joins Dan to discuss the relationship between fitness and movement and how top groups create a cohesive visual approach across all of their performers.

Read the transcript of the podcast below.

Dan Schack (00:09):

Hey, Samuel. Great to meet you. I guess semi face-to-face as face-to-face is life is right now, I suppose. Um, but you know, I don’t, I don’t wanna like steal your introduction glory, so can for, for the people out there who don’t know, can you talk about a little bit, just maybe your, your background and then what you’ve currently been up to?

Samia Mooney (00:30):

Sure. Yeah, so I, um, I actually started dancing in color guard pretty late in life at about age 16. Um, did the majority of my dance training at those early years through just marching band and drum Corps started taking dance class at community college. And then, um, when I went to university, studied dance and kinesiology. So I’ve always been into health and fitness, kind of put those two things together and did both those degrees and have been teaching marching band movement, color guard have been, uh, in health and fitness as a trainer fitness instructor for many years. And currently I’m the director of dance at Avon high school, as well as the movement supervisor at the blue coats and the Bluecoats indoor.

Dan Schack (01:14):

Ooh, with the fancy, with the fancy, at the end, this episode is going to air in about a week, um, a little bit more than a week. And we’re just about a week out from DCI 2021. And I was seeing on your Instagram, you know, you were there, you were hanging with the Bluecoats team and I would just love to hear, like, what was that like, because this is such a different year for what we usually do. And we’re also in like the expectation of how it usually goes. So like, was it similar? Was it different? Like what was the vibe out there? Yeah,

Samia Mooney (01:48):

I mean, at blue coats, we just treated it other than the, uh, you know, the boundaries and masking and the COVID tests and the protocols with, with our health in that regard, it was just a normal drum core season, as best as we could make it. I mean, we did, we moved in July 1st up until we every day up until DCI, um, celebration week ended. So everyday rehearsals, you know, 12, 13 hours a day, full new drill, new music, new, well, you know, props are kind of recycled, but as best as we could a new design with them, flags, you name it. They tried to give those members the most authentic experience that they could, um, as close to a normal summer with the blue coats. But yeah, definitely. Like, I feel like it was definitely rewarding in all ways. Just it just as fulfilling as it would have been if we had gone a different route.

Samia Mooney (02:40):

I mean, it was just, it was just so great to be around that type of environment again. And the kids were super the members. I shouldn’t say kids, the members were just so grateful and thankful, so it was definitely special and unique and hopefully it can be different in the future. Fingers crossed things are going to be different, but yeah, it was full forced. I gotta tell you, I was because it crossed over with my normal work right afterwards. And so I’m still recovering from it. So, so there, there’s a good marker of how, how normal it felt.

Dan Schack (03:09):

Well, can I ask you? I know this is like totally random, but I feel like Avon or is it Indiana just goes back to school so early. Cause I know when we go with crown, usually we’re at Avon and I’m from Connecticut and we didn’t go back to school this early. Is it because of like the, this is gonna sound weird, but like the farming schedule or like I know that daylight savings I’m, I don’t know,

Samia Mooney (03:31):

Like the farmer’s Almanac plays into it. That

Dan Schack (03:34):

Is what I’m saying.

Samia Mooney (03:35):

It’s the full year round calendar. It’s like a balanced calendar. So they go back early, but we do have like a solid six weeks of vacation during the school year, but I got to say, I would rather just take, like, give me, give me, I’ll give back a week of vacation. If we can start a week later, it is it’s early. It is early.

Dan Schack (03:54):

It feels, it feels it’s more like on that, on that college thing. And it was always just odd there. It was like, I felt like the summer had just started, but what I was going to ask you before I derailed my own thought was well, something I experienced at least, you know, we did the, like the bubble at crown. We didn’t go on the road obviously. Um, and it was very interesting to see the kind of quality that the team was able to put out with five weeks instead of, you know, we usually do it three months from the beginning of the end. So did you experience, or like observe any of that type of thing where it’s like we’re getting more done because of sort of the restrictions that are built into it?

Samia Mooney (04:32):

Yeah, for sure. Well, you know, in the bubble we adhered to the bubble 100% the entire time, no one was allowed in what, you know, we didn’t have any visitors. We had one community night, you know, his family came to see their, their kids marching. They couldn’t even hug them. It was like, you just got to wait until we’re done. Um, but you know, I feel like part of the reason that everything was put out so quickly at such a high level was just, I think the members were just ready and like hungry to do it after having so much time off. But it definitely, like there was a point I think they buy maybe like two and a half weeks in when we were like, we were finishing the ballot. I think we had six tunes. I might be wrong. I think it was six.

Samia Mooney (05:14):

Maybe it was five tunes, but by the like fifth tune, we were like, they can do this in three weeks. Like we, you know, maybe we need to up the ante in the future, but I will say that like, injuries, I don’t know if y’all experienced this, but like just having the time off pre season, no winter or indoor groups coming out, people quarantining and having to stay at home and be sedentary. We just had a ton of injuries as I was hearing from other groups, as well as just to jump back into it at 90 miles per hour, it was bound to happen, but we had a great med staff. So that thankful

Dan Schack (05:51):

Of course. Yeah. I mean, I think blue coats that from a, from an administrative standpoint, I actually, I marched with Mike Scott, rhythm X. Um, so he’s, he’s like, yeah, he’s just such a different thinker and yet he’s a deal. I mean, he’s, he’s young and he’s doing the thing. And I think we’ve seen what, um, how important the administrative part of what we do is, and I think built into that is because of the strength of the administration. And like you’re saying a med staff, what now the team there is able to do the design team’s able to do is so next level in terms of production. So for you, I know you are the movement supervisor. So one, what does that really mean? Because of course all these titles, we kind of, we kind of make them up and they all have different meanings. So what is the being the movement supervisor at blue coats actually mean? And then sort of like, how do you deal with the innovative parts of it where you’re being asked to do things that you probably didn’t do as a member and really none of us had ever done because the blue coats are one of the groups pushing, um, the activity.

Samia Mooney (06:53):

Yeah, there’s a lot in that question. I love that. That’s a great question. Um, so the role that I have, I just said, I want a job. And they said, what kind of cool name do you want now? Uh, now they, um, so I think maybe around like 17, you know, obviously 16 when they transformed and changed the uniform and started to really push the boundaries with the props and then 17, again, with like the giant stage on the field, just trying to think differently. They started to really develop this rhythm and this, you know, finding this need for having movement incorporated everywhere. Um, and it, it was kind of around that year, maybe after 17, I think going into 18 that they said, well, why don’t we just make this a caption? Um, and at that point we incorporated movement into everything from the audition process.

Samia Mooney (07:37):

I mean, it was it’s, it’s half of their visual. I think it’s a third actually of their visual score, but you have a moving and playing audition and you have a moving and sorry, dancing and playing music and, uh, sort of, uh, dancing and marching in and out of those two things as an audition. And if you don’t check those boxes, we it’s like we don’t take you if you’re just the phenomenal player you have, you have to move. Um, so I think the more that they realized they wanted to have movement be part of the whole, um, there, we started to try to find a niche and a need for my position, but basically the designers and the head choreographers have the intent and the aesthetic and the design that they want. And then they start going with choreography. And then it’s my job to make sure that me along with my, the movement staff is transferring that to the students.

Samia Mooney (08:26):

So we have a movement staff that crosses over, uh, the color guard, the battery and the percussion. So it’s movement staff for the whole, um, it’s no longer like, uh, a major, main marching person that just covers the brass and then like a movement movement person for the battery. So it’s kind of across the board, which is pretty cool. And then the second half of your question was like, how do I adapt to this? Cause I didn’t have this when I was marching, right. Their age. It’s kinda cool. Because like, you know, in the mornings we start with dance class every day. Like we did do PT for a while, but we kind of did away with that once they we’ve, we’ve found the strength and it’s dance class every day, sometimes it’s the full core. And sometimes it’s just brass and percussion, but trying to think of movement as much incorporated into their daily routine as warming up on their instrument, I think helped. I think it’s awesome because I think there are so many benefits to being in tune with your body and knowing how to move in space and how to express through movement. So yeah, I hope that answers your question.

Dan Schack (09:30):

Yeah. I mean, it leads me in a couple of different directions and the first first one that comes to mind is when I think as a, as a choreography person, you’re always inherently a designer. It’s not always so clear because there’s like the creative designer or the program coordinator. And then you’re, you know, you have like the brass choreographer and like the percussion choreographer and the guard choreographed their whole thing separately. And it’s cool. They, first of all, hear that this is more of a multi-pronged sort of approach, which certainly becomes clear when you’re looking at the product. I think that is evident, um, that there’s similar hands and minds kind of across the captions and that’s super necessary. I, I wanted to ask on a more maybe technical level for you. You, you have formal training in dance. So when you are handed the aesthetic and maybe are you given a movement style or is it like, here’s the aesthetic, we’re doing these jazz charts and this is our sound, are we doing the Beatles? So there’s like a, an Eastern Indian flavor. Do you go back to the training? Do you go out and explore, like, what’s your process for sort of finding your flavors moment to moment or year to year? Yeah.

Samia Mooney (10:45):

So the, the pers that’s a great question. The person that does all that is Jim Moore. So he will be the main choreographer for everything across all captions. And then once he knows what his style is, whether it’s like that Mid-Eastern feel, you know, in some of those, um, movements a couple of years ago, um, or something a little more, um, like we did a little Fossey stuff, you know, a few years ago as well, once he knows what that is, then it’s my job with him and, you know, and the brass caption head as well, and the visual caption head to make sure that I’m all ears and I’m open and receptive to what they’re doing and what their needs are. And that, again, I’m just trying to transfer that to the students. So once they find it like what the aesthetic or the vibe is, um, of course I use I’ll use my background and my training, but, um, I also have to be a great listener and I also have to be like, you gotta let ego go.

Samia Mooney (11:37):

I am just here to sort of serve the design team and also be like the, uh, to work in the trenches to make sure that the members are crossing those boundaries of understanding and performance. So a lot of it is I’m still a student in regard where I have to listen to what the designers are saying, see what they’re, what they’re seeing and wanting. And then I have to go to teacher mode and try to transfer that, um, and teach the, the members. So it’s great. I mean, as for me as someone who’s in education, I love learning and I, I just love that. I never want to stop learning. Um, so there are absolutely no qualms. There’s no ego, it’s just a big, like fun exploration and also just open communication. Right?

Dan Schack (12:20):

Well, I, I feel like that team, uh, it seems like y’all are like really close friends so that you can, you can structure it, you know, you can structure the caption is the way you structure them. But the reality is that is the, is a huge key to even being able to speak the same language and, and everything like that. Um, but I feel like, you know, you’re kind of talking about like you serving a conduit role from the vision level to the implementation level on the field. Um, and then from, from a conditioning perspective, cause you’re coming to things with this background in fitness and in health, do you feel that was like almost in like sickness of death and fitness and health, do you feel like you look at the choices that get made from a choreograph standpoint, from a design standpoint and do those require different types or styles of conditioning,

Samia Mooney (13:13):

For sure. Yeah. A hundred percent, depending on what they’re being asked to do, like, let me use some examples. Uh, okay. 2017, when the stage just stayed in the middle of the field, there was no major, this is kind of minor, but there was no major, um, prop pushing responsibility that year. And then the next year immediately, it was like all of a sudden we got to move these props around the field. And, and even though this isn’t choreographically related, it’s the choreography of how the set is moving on stage. So if you don’t have that lower body and upper body strength, like, you know, you’re not training sled, sled pushes all the time, but here we’re asking you to push this prop 50, you know, I don’t know, 30 yards. So having that lower body strength and that stamina for a big push like that as an example, choreographically, same thing.

Samia Mooney (13:59):

It’s like if, if they are being asked to go upside down a lot, you have to have, you have to be able to know where your body is in space, upside down, balancing on your, on your hands, or even just even just having balance. You know, it’s easy to say, like, you know, we’ve all seen everyone has done this because this is kind of how the roots, I think of movement, I guess they’ve been consistent, you know, you kind of park and pose. So you play and you pose in your lunch or you’re tilted over, or you make a bar line with your body or you put your legs in a fourth position or a four-star, but we’ve kind of surpassed that place. So having the ability to move fluidly through shapes or connecting shape to shape and finding steamless transitions with movement from as simple as picking up your horn and moving to a different place in space to completely taking the focus to you with no equipment in your hands, no instruments and doing a full body responsibility in and out of the ground, you know, it varies so much. And like, uh, and you never really know what, what will the cooling belt Bluecoats is? You know, the choreographers I find that they feed so much off of who is in the room with the membership, that it becomes sort of a collaborative process. So to an extent there is a little bit of comfortability with who is in front of you and what their abilities are, and then they can kind of push the envelope, but it totally depends. Yeah.

Dan Schack (15:21):

Well, th uh, you know, it’s like you get to a point where the identity of the group has been, you know, evolving, but in a way, finding that consistency, like you’re saying from 15 and then 16, basically doing away with the conventional blue coats uniform, and now going into this year to year setting the standard, really for the activity, like every single year, it’s going to be different, but still finding that identity, I think in the style of the music and even the movement style, that there is a consistency and an expectation from that from the team. Um, now the members show up and they’re like, they already know what the expectation is. So instead of just like surprise, you know, you’re shocking a baritone player and it doing this movement, they were like, I’m here because I want to do that. So there’s like, it ends up sort of perpetuates itself or something like that.

Samia Mooney (16:07):

Yeah. It’s so interesting, you know, and they, they’re so excited about it. Like there, it’s rare now, even that we’ll find anyone that is like rolling their eyes, everyone’s pretty excited about the experience and like, and the, the what is going to happen. So that’s really cool.

Dan Schack (16:25):

Yeah. I wanted to ask you, because you have, you know, as a, as a member, you have a color guard background, right. So I marched snare drum and I mainly do choreography for the groups. It is, well, not mainly, that’s not really true, but I tend to be the main choreographer, but through the lens of like, I was in a drum line and not even that recently, I mean, like somewhat recently, but not that recently. So it’s, it’s interesting because I’m coming to it with that and like wanting to always see ahead of where things are at and set, you know, my own standard for where I think things should be, but I only have the insight of what I’ve done and like, you know, I went to school for English, so that certainly isn’t going to help me in any way. So when you’re coming and teaching, uh, brass line, or, um, when you’re coming in, you’re teaching drummers, are you looking at things or you’re trying to sort of say things and explain things in a different way. Is it just a matter of like treating them, like as if you would treat a trained dancer, like what what’s that translation process? Like,

Samia Mooney (17:28):

You have to kind of start with a blanket version of how you want to get the, uh, the choreo across or the idea or the theme, or even just the skill. It could just be a skill you’re starting with or a shape. So you start with like a blanket version for everybody, and then you see who that works for. At least this is my, what I do. And then at that point, this is part of what I love about teaching is finding what works for each student and trying to help them on that, you know, on, get on the right track there. But yeah, it’s true. Like the language and the language is important that, you know, if I’m in front of the, the battery, you know, I did like a thing with them on the back tarp, uh, at the end of the show.

Samia Mooney (18:09):

And it was just like, Hey, I know we don’t always flutter, but could we act like we’re running to this back corner? Like, it is like the light at the end of the tunnel, you gotta find a way for them to connect to it. And I’m kind of, I’ll go on a little tangent, but like so much of trying to get that human connection and that emotional performance out of what they’re doing comes from trying to help them to connect to it from like their own experience and their own lives. So I wouldn’t say it’s a last resort, but if we’re really pushing for that, like last boundary, that last level of, okay, now we really want you to become sort of more whole as a performer, then we’ll try to put a storyline to it or say, Hey, I just want you to stop for a second to think about someone who’s important in your life.

Samia Mooney (18:52):

Okay. Someone who you wish you could spend more time with right now. And they’re standing at the back corner on that tarp. So when you go over there, I need you to look, I need you to see them. I need you to feel being seen by them and you have to go to them. You know what I mean? It needs to be that energy. So there are multiple, multiple ways you can do it, but you definitely have to cater it and change it to if it’s the front ensemble in front of you or the color guard or the RAs or the percussion, or, or the drum majors for that matter. Like even they are, you know, they’re involved in that process too now, which is cool. Our drum majors come to dance class.

Dan Schack (19:23):

I could see that happening for sure. And that just like, that’s a lot of, that’s a lot of pressure to it to express something like kind of personally. And I could see like where I probably don’t do much of that, which is just like, I kinda just want drummers to be raw. And almost like, I, I want them to just bring what they bring. But to, to your point is hitting a drum with a stick doesn’t necessarily give you much of a range of emoting because it’s so quiet. You can play or so slow. You can play again. Maybe not, maybe there’s, there’s more to it, but you see what I’m saying? Like, I think being a dancer there’s, there is a nuance to the expression that is there versus if you are like lugging a two-bar around our fundamental, like training our background, doesn’t lead us to a place where we always feel that way. And that’s, that’s so different now with like just the marching arts is the hybridization of the captions. Everyone’s doing everything. And I was, I was, I was wondering like, are you finding the color guard or the blue coats, their culture changing or being different as a guard, because the core is so much a part of that. You know what I’m saying?

Samia Mooney (20:33):

That’s a great question. That’s a great question. And that’s also a great thing to point out that I haven’t ever thought about before. Yes. It feels like it’s more of a cohesive like company, so to speak, it feels like the guard and the brass and the percussion, like we’re all on the same team and we’re all going towards a similar goal. I may not be the same goal, but it’s just like a similar, like energy in the room with them. Um, and I would say the majority is the majority of it is it’s at least it’s super positive. Yeah. I don’t know what else to say about that. Other than it just feels like it’s more a whole working towards a common goal rather than at least when I marched, you know, like in the mid two thousands, it was very segregated. Like I don’t feel, I don’t feel like in 2004 I ever saw we were on the guard field by ourselves, like the whole season.

Samia Mooney (21:28):

And then we only came together at like ensemble. And now, I mean, at least it felt like it was only ensemble, but you know, we’re always hitting visual. We are always, the other thing is, you know, it comes from the top. Also our, whoever whomever is running visual or ensemble, they are, they’re addressing the hole. And they’re trying to find comments that they can give to the entire group as well as individual sections. But so I think in that regard, the, the staff and the admin, the tech tech staff, everyone has put in an effort to make this about, it’s a open loving family where, you know, you’re just as important as what that person’s doing. And you know, you know what I’m saying?

Dan Schack (22:08):

I do know that’s super cool. I had never thought about that either. And I’m, I’m making up all these questions. So that’s, uh, it’s definitely interesting. And again, like the product is just a, is just, again, it’s a by-product of that. I guess you could say you can definitely feel that there is an identity across all the captions and that’s yeah. It’s been a special part of the last, you know, half a decade with, with that core, are you looking for a high quality apparel made exclusively for the marching arts that Dan band show is brought to you by LA riot apparel flat? Right? It was founded by a drum Corps alumni with a mission to great, the premier apparel brand in the marching arts. And he definitely accomplished that goal. There’s no other brands out there like blot, right? No matter what band event you go to, you will see lot, right?

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Dan Schack (24:21):

I wanted to pivot and make sure that we covered this because it’s definitely a special part of your background is the fitness thing and something I’m interested. And I engage with, with my group in an unorthodox ways, for sure. What for you is the ideal way to show up to whether it’s going to be different, but to high school band or to DCI drum core. Like you’re talking about injuries and, and sort of this off time. And I think there was different ways people could have gone. And obviously I go to a gym with that mask is awful. So I definitely stopped doing that. Especially early in the pandemic, I actually started running, which was very surprising, not built to run at all. So that was a different thing. But what is that ideal conditioning sort of status someone should show up with? What do you think about like broadly, I’d say

Samia Mooney (25:06):

Sure. I think it depends on, uh, it depends on the activity. So if you’re talking about marching band, you, at least at that age, you know, like 13, 14, 50, 6 to 17, 18, you at least need to have the stamina to stand up on two feet for, you know, for Hersel. Um, so you need to have good posture, you know, have those core and posture muscles trained in that regard. And also to be able to hold your instrument instrument, even if it’s like, even if you play Piccolo. So having some shoulder stamina, and I would say posture is like the foundation at that age. Um, and then your cardiovascular health being able to do two things simultaneously still in the marching band sort of bracket here, being able to March jazz, run and play at the same time or breathe, rest, play, you know, and still multitask and think about your music and be aware of that.

Samia Mooney (26:04):

And then your drill and group responsibilities with that. So I think, I think it’s harder. I don’t know about you, but when I was, you know, like a fresh sophomore junior in high school, I felt like I had more responsibilities that were challenging just because it was all new for the first time. But then, you know, when, as you move up levels into like drum Corps or maybe college, uh, college age musicians or marchers, you have to have a much higher cardiovascular stamina, right? So you’re talking about 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 minutes, depending on if you’re indoor or outdoor, um, for the activity, you gotta have great lower body strengths and you have to have to have to come into a season with muscle mass just because, you know, we all know, like we all know the drum Corps diet, you know, I’m not talking about food, I’m talking about like the, the aftermath of what that does to your body.

Samia Mooney (26:53):

You lose so much body fat, you lose muscle mass. If you come in with low muscle mass, I mean, it’s just, it’s working against you. So at least I’m sure there has to be other cores that do this. We, I mean, we do, we use marching health and we have something called blue coat strong where we start training starting in November, around October, November with our first camps, but it’s a virtual online training ground for us. So we have to, we try to engage and make sure our students are putting on muscle because we know that they’re going to lose it. But other than that, you know, I guess with, with like color guard specific, maybe you could say marching too. Like you gotta have strong ankles. You have strong ankles, strong calves. If you have hyper flexibility or like, uh, overly normal amount of mobility in your ankles or your knees, you want to be aware and know that, you know, if you have a tendency to hyperextend or roll your ankles, um, be able to recover quickly as far as like knowing where your weight is. So then in that regard, it’s having a really, a pretty good understanding of proprioception of your body and space and where your weight distribution is. Those are all super important. And those are all things that can be taken care of and trained pretty easily, like, you know, in your bedroom or your kitchen, just standing on one foot, doing calf raises, um, shifting your weight through your feet, balancing just, it’s all stuff that can be done over time that can help.

Dan Schack (28:15):

Yes, this is a great resource for anybody. And it’s like, well, you have to do something I think is maybe the first step in, like, I feel like my experience with it was like exercising was very much like a gateway drug in terms of, you know, my friend who was not at all in the marching arts, like when I was like, we were 21, you know, I’m at the end of it and kind of at the end of college too, and he’s a trainer and he actually is doing, um, what’s it called? He’s a Gyrotonic trainer, which is sort of like, yeah, the Pilates, but it almost looks like a big alien thing. And it’s very, it’s like yoga, Pilates type thing. And, you know, he, he was very like knowledgeable in that he starts kind of teaching me just strength and conditioning stuff. And that was after I was, was marching, but then coming back and being a teacher and having any say in what their, you know, their day to day is, it was like I started teaching the Crossman. It was like, we did yoga every morning with the drum line. And we avoided a lot of, lot of injuries that way, most of the injuries were psychological to be very Frank with you. They were not, you know, they’re not like I’m, I’m legit hurt. It was like I’m hurting or whatever.

Dan Schack (29:24):

Uh, if that makes sense. And I just, if you were with, and this is like looking back all the way back, it doesn’t have to be you, but if you’re like you, I mean, you teach students that are starting off, right. So if you let’s say you’re a personal trainer for a kid who was like, I want to be in marching band they’re they’re in eighth grade about to start freshman year, bring me through what you would sort of assign them to do to prepare them for let’s say like the nine to nine band camp schedule,

Samia Mooney (29:47):

For sure. First thing out the gate, check their posture, analyze their posture, their hips, their shoulders, uh, their rib cage, where they hold their weight when they’re standing still or standing at attention. Um, and then work on some of those smaller nuances with that. And then just walking, walking, walking, you know, someone who’s that age is still developing. Um, they’re still growing, their bones are still developing. So you want to be careful with how much they, you make them run. Um, but walking brisk pace is good. You could maybe do a little bit of jogging. Um, and then I would probably honestly, like, I love planks, I think plant training, doing planks, um, using your body weight as one of the best things you can do for your full body. Um, so probably a lot of plank training and then maybe like a little bit of just not sprinting, but a little bit of like intermittent little faster interval training.

Samia Mooney (30:40):

It could just be like, even like, I know I’m standing up, but like Shaw stays to the side or like, carry it, carry okays or, um, you know, like high knees, similar to what you might see at like a youth soccer camp. Um, just getting the cardiovascular system firing, recover, fire, recover just to get them used to those reps, you know, reset. Do it again, water reset. Do it again. I suppose, probably a good base, you know, and then, you know, once they’re in it, once you’re doing a year or two of marching band, like you’re kind of learning the drill and you’re training those muscles in those areas, training stamina, you’re training the way that needs to be. Yeah.

Dan Schack (31:17):

You don’t need to like overexert the actual like kind of supplemental stuff. When you’re, if you’re on a drunk court tour, you’re not going to go do bicep curls.

Samia Mooney (31:25):

Yeah. Yeah. You’re good. Like, well, no, I mean, sometimes we do, but no, it’s like, if you’re holding, if you’re holding your, your Berry baritone up, you know, that is all you need to work on. So you gotta work on shoulder stamina preseason, but push that like in, as you get a little bit older, like pushups are awesome. Pushups, squats, maybe walking lunges, depending on like how aware the person is of their weight distribution. Gotta be careful because you know, so many knee injuries can have knees and ankles is like the number one thing I think we see in the activity. So just strengthening you can also, I mean, I’m just like spewing information, but like, cause I love it so much, but also training those supporting and assisting muscles, like your adductors, your abductors, inner thighs, you know, all of the smaller muscles that assist the major muscle groups. So, but you gotta pay me for that.

Dan Schack (32:15):

Yeah. Or, you know, like for everyone out there, there’s this thing called YouTube. And you could just like,

Samia Mooney (32:20):

I mean, I don’t understand. I mean, I’m glad you don’t have a gym membership anymore. Like there is no reason unless you need the equipment to pay for gym membership unless you need the equation.

Dan Schack (32:31):

No, I do. I pay for one. I’m sorry. I do pay for one. You, do

Samia Mooney (32:34):

You use the equipment or do you use

Dan Schack (32:37):

The equipment? Of course, yes. I don’t just let it sit there and they’re not profiting off of me like that. No way, no way. And so you were talking and this is like a thing that I also got more attuned to just, you know, learning more about teaching movement was I think there’s a big misconception when you’re in a visual block that it’s all about what you look like. And as you said before, it’s actually about proprioception and about your experience in the body and sort of what things feel like when they’re supposed to be doing the thing that you’re expecting. And obviously like there are stylistic differences and marching and, and really, I think the differences in how people March or like this much, I don’t think there’s groups doing the extreme ends anymore. Even looking at a Vanguard versus the cadets, which have like opposite marching techniques. It’s like kind of not decipherable anymore. I think an important part is how to get the student in touch with the language as it relates to their physical experience. So I know you were talking before about sort of that creating an emotional connection to the performance. How do we speak to students so that they can learn about the physical sensations? So they’re getting the right feedback from the teaching,

Samia Mooney (33:51):

Right? Yeah. And also feedback giving themselves feedback. So I think, yeah, I think it starts with trying to establish, I’m trying to lay the groundwork and establish this. Uh, what is the word I’m looking for? The importance obviously, is that where the importance of awareness of your body? I wish we could have mirrors with us all the time, but we’re not that fortunate. So we don’t always get that visual feedback of seeing ourselves in the mirror. And also, you know, when you see videos of yourself marching, it’s usually from the box or up top. Um, so we try to use, first of all, tools, we try to video and post in our slack as much as we can during a visual, a visual blocker during basics. Um, but then, I mean, it’s trying to find the right language that will connect with the students and also having them try, you know, try to do it the wrong way, try to shift your weight in the wrong direction and then trial and error and see, you know, if you’re, if you’re marching and you’re trying to shift your weight and, you know, change direction to the left downstage angle, have them do it in my new small bites where they’re doing it the wrong way as the group, they’re doing it the wrong way.

Samia Mooney (35:03):

And then have them assess either verbally say, or just, you know, internally think about, okay, what about that was challenging? And then have them do it the correct way with the correct technique and have them assess and then lock in sort of that it’s not always muscle memory. Sometimes it’s just like, you’re constantly giving yourself a, uh, it’s a conversation with yourself constantly. I think, as you’re marching through your, your entire opener or whatever, you’re always aware. How’s my side to side. Where’s the person that I, that I dressed to. Okay. How much is three quarters of a step off of my dot? Okay. What do I need to remember as I go into this jazz around here? So a lot of it is like just teaching them to be responsible and also the trial and error of do it the wrong way, help them find the right way. And the reasons why the right way is the most efficient way efficient, uh, stress efficient, not just like traditional, like let’s do it the efficient way and not hurt ourselves.

Dan Schack (36:03):

I agree for sure. I Merced Cavaliers. They were still,

Samia Mooney (36:07):

I like the way they look when they marched back then

Dan Schack (36:10):

I, so do I, I definitely like it too. It was very difficult to learn, but it was so the opposite of everything you just said, I couldn’t even describe it. Like we, and then people who have ever listened to me talk about this already know, but like, you don’t talk about the form or the shape you’re in,

Samia Mooney (36:28):

It’s only dot

Dan Schack (36:29):

It’s literally only dot. And it was like, you would get B rated. If you said, guide or dress, it’s so different than what like, and it, it does, um, you know, like you want to talk about the machine part of their culture. Was it separates you from anything but that, so it’s not emotional. It’s not connected. It’s like your step size is, and you figure out your step size literally for every dot. So every, they basically hype, like every step of your show has a mathematical distance between it.

Samia Mooney (37:03):

Oh my gosh. Imagine how often you are adjusting it’s wacky. Yeah. But then human error. There’s always going to be human. I mean, no, no shade, because I do like the way I liked the way that the capillaries looked when they marched like that kind of like, like little rolling, like, well, that’s cute. It’s cute. I liked it. It was no shade at all, but imagine like the amount of human error we have just as people and then having to adjust based off of that. And it’s the consistent, the inconsistency of that, but I know I’m preaching. You did it. So

Dan Schack (37:40):

It’s a great point about, I think arguing for just marching the dot actually, because if you’re guiding it’s this whole argument, when you’ve got, you know, in the high school, kids love to do this, it’s like only one white dog. It’s like, well, I’m guiding the form. And yeah, I think, um, the dot thing kind of excuses you from that, but to your point, and if you ever watched the Cavaliers, when they were in that mode, the first two months of the season, they are so dirty. And then like the last two weeks or whatever, it’s like, perfect. And you’ve seen like, you know, frameworks like that, that may be only be achieved by doing that. But it’s very painful. I will tell you that it’s sorta, like you’re sort of out there alone. And I don’t know, like, do we, is that the feeling you want to invoke in a student who is like,

Samia Mooney (38:25):

If you were like 17 or 18, I don’t know, to each their own with what they choose, but you know, no, it’s no performance, no two performances are exactly alike. No two experiences are exactly like, whether it’s your run through to your show or your run through to your sec, your run through the next day, it’s just in the performance world. You are a person and whatever’s going on in your life that day or that hour, or how dehydrated or hydrated you are or emotional, or there’s a hole next to you. Like no two experiences are going to be alike. And so I think, you know, at least at the blue coats, I don’t remember exactly what Jared, our visual captions, what the words were, but it was something to the extent of, we are never going to be perfect, a hundred percent perfect. It’s how close to perfect we can get at w how close we can get to it and reaching for that. Just getting close to, I know that it doesn’t sound like amazing, but he said something really great. And I was just like, it’s not about perfection. Exactly.

Dan Schack (39:25):

And this is so interesting to me, just broadly about what we do is it is from a militaristic background where it’s like, just do what you’re told and shut up. And we’re. So I personally think that activity is swayed very far from that in a way that is absolutely needed. And I feel like there’s a place in the marching arts for not only not imperfection, but like, like the composition itself is not about it being clean, that we could compose ideas or events that are not about uniformity and cleanliness or readability, but they’re about something else. And like, I’m interested in the prospect of creating that. I don’t exactly know what I’m talking about, but there’s like, there’s something else that we’ve sort of, we marginalized out because we are still sort of traumatized by the militarist tradition of the activity.

Samia Mooney (40:19):

Yeah. Well, unfortunately the reward portion of the activity is based on clean visual, clean beats. The majority of it is cleanliness now or still, and the mind my Newt, uh, the design aspect, you know, is it’s not, not quite worth, worth, whatever worth as much it’s. Yeah. But you know, it’s, everything’s evolving from something else and who knows what will happen in the next 10 years, 15 years, or two or three years who knows

Dan Schack (40:52):

Next year, blue coats next year.

Samia Mooney (40:54):

I have no idea. I have no idea. I don’t think they know until they start getting their brains together,

Dan Schack (41:01):

But I’ve heard some rumors.

Samia Mooney (41:03):

Oh, good. I learned so many things about,

Dan Schack (41:06):

I’ve heard rumors rather drunk. Where are you today? Yeah, of course. But nothing bad. Of course, just that, you know, no, I’m not going to share. I’m not going to share. No, that’s, that’s off, off camera stuff.

Samia Mooney (41:19):

I haven’t heard anything. Yeah.

Dan Schack (41:20):

And I’m sure, I’m sure it’s conjecture as, as many things are in our little space, but, and you, you said you do work with the blue coats color guard and I, they, they were hers up in Indy, right. Or in, uh, in Indiana.

Samia Mooney (41:33):

Yeah. The indoor group. Yes. The, yeah, like the winter guard. Yes. So we, they, we did not come out last year. I don’t even remember what year it was. I think we did literally to 1819. I think we

Dan Schack (41:46):

Did. I think they didn’t come on 2020.

Samia Mooney (41:48):

Okay. So we did 18, 19. Yeah. No, 2020. Um, and they, yeah, they were her step in Indy. Um, just local up here, uh, pretty much right in the city. And, um, you know, it was pretty cool. It’s like, you know, it takes a few years for something like that to get off the ground and going, I also started with Vanguard with the Vanguard winter guard, their inaugural, well, not their inaugural year. I think their not year over year was in the eighties. But when they came back out in 2000 6, 5, 6, I also did that for like six years and went through that whole process. And it’s definitely like, there’s, you have got to get, build some momentum for the first few years, but that was a great experience as well. I feel like the designers, um, you know, for the winter guard tried to bring a little bit of the essence of what the, uh, the drum Corps had, you know, as far as little bit of risk taking with the soundscape, the sound design, but it’s pretty much the same team as the, as the summer group, same designers, same choreographers and a lot of the membership crossover, which was really neat.

Samia Mooney (42:49):


Dan Schack (42:49):

Yeah. I w why I asked is just that show with the looping and the electronics, like that’s where I see this all sort of going, because that’s where music has gone. I mean, I think like when you look at the trajectory of all popular music, it’s been so engulfed in electronic music. So there’s this, like this technological thing that sort of combines with what that’s doing. And now we are able to do, I mean, the things that blue coats are doing with the speakers since like 2014, you know, and then at 15 with the kinetic noise show, like, that’s really cool. I think. And even the, that, that indoor show, I think that 19 show, I believe you were wearing yellow that year. Um, there’s still so much heart just around the activity. It’s not like there’s not color guard in that. And I just want groups to, and not even groups, but just like all of us and like people who see what we do to like, be open to, to like, be appreciative and like recognize the artistry in, what’s not just marching and playing and things like that. Um, plus plus plus whatever else. So I see that as that, that to me was a glimpse in the future, too, if you haven’t seen to like music city mystique 2019, they did a show called medium. And they were like playing in these filters sort of similar. I think blue coats have done a few times and just next level stuff where you’re like, I’m scared, but I like it.

Samia Mooney (44:17):


Dan Schack (44:17):

Fear of something. Yes.

Samia Mooney (44:19):

Well, and you know, I think any person who is a creative would say that there is always, you know, in the creative process, there’s, there’s fear and there’s risk involved and you it’s kind inevitable. You have to cross those boundaries in order to see what happens on the other side, scary doing that. You know, you can, everyone can play it safe, but why I feel like the Bluecoats have always had an element of like audio, whether it’s looping or like morphing. I don’t know if you saw this snare thing that they did this year where the audio for the snare drummers was like trippy. But yeah. I mean, I just, it’s just fun to watch people explore regardless of where they’re, where, what group they’re from or what part of the country, but just seeing people take risks and do something different. Think outside the box, even if it totally bombs like who cares, it’s cool. You put it out there.

Dan Schack (45:12):

What makes a snare drum more of an instrument than a computer or a sense or a trumpet? I mean, for me, it’s the, it’s the arsenal of what you can do. And Hey, I mean, I personally was an advocate for the woodwind thing because you can hold a saxophone and pretend to play it and do everything, but you have to play the sax one sound through a computer. So I think we, uh, we’re still searching, our souls are being searched for how far we can go without the integrity of, of the, I it’s, it’s really, I don’t know. There’s more to be said, but we’re, we’re nearing our end time here. So I don’t want to go into a rabbit hole with that too hard. Yeah.

Samia Mooney (45:54):

You know, it’s like, well, you have to vote. It has to, you have to vote on all that stuff has to be, has to be voted upon, but wow. Wow.

Dan Schack (46:03):

Well, we will, we’ll see where that goes, but I will go into a rabbit hole tangent on just that whole thing. So, but Samia, I just wanna thank you for getting on here and giving us some time today and giving us your insight. And it’s been very, very exciting for me to, to listen to someone with the experience you have and just your perspective. So thank you for getting on here with us today.

Samia Mooney (46:26):

Thank you. It was very kind of you. I had a great time. I love sharing info and chatting and meeting new people. So thank you very much.

Dan Schack (46:35):

Thank you. And we’ll see everybody next time. See you later.

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