Thursday, 14 April 2016

The post WGI wrap up

Mayflower ended their season in 8th place in the world scoring 89.55 and most importantly, having their best run of the year in finals.

This has been a special WGI for us for many reasons:

  • Firstly, it has been one of the most stress free trips (although it had it moments, including a trip to A&E after semi finals, a mis placed sabre and terrible weather and traffic!) with well organised rehearsals, focused members and supportive parents/support crew.  
  • It's been one of the most fun - we are very familiar with the area, rehearsals, the arena etc so got the balance right of rehearsals, relaxation, watching guards (and of course Walmart!)
  • We have had more support than ever - from our friends and family back home, to guards coming to every rehearsal to watch to 3 standing ovations at the end of our performances.  It's been magnificent and our members felt like rock stars!
  • And of course, it's been our most successful - we were just hoping to make it into finals so to come 8th with our highest scores ever, was the icing on the cake
One of our big moments - the flag roll around toss
The way the guard has stayed focused on getting better every day and not getting over hyped on the score or position really enabled us to improve with every performance.  The way they dealt with the pressure of performing infront of a big audience (when half the guard had never been to Dayton before!) was fantastic.  The staff never put any pressure on the guard nor talked about scores and positions - just focused the members of being their best.

Rifle technique block

Sunday was spent relaxing and shopping.  Since it was our only free day, everyone made the most of it, bagging some bargains at the outlet mall.  Prior to our Sunday evening meal together, our supporters surprised us with cakes in the colour of our costumes.  

The cake was delicious (although I think one cake ended up being worn rather than eaten, in a food fight later that night!).  We then headed over to Smoky Bones for our final celebratory meal together and some welcome cocktails! 

Monday morning we left for one final breakfast in the USA before heading for the airport and the start of our long journey home.  There was much talk of next season and our return to WGI in 3 years time - always a sign of a great season!  

If you want to watch our finals performance it's on our Mayflower Facebook page, so make sure you 'like' it

So that's it for this year's blog.  Thanks for reading and see you all to do it again in 2019!

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Day 6 - It's finals day!

After a great semi finals performance and much jubilation at our result and being back in WGI World Class finals for the 4th time, it was time to knuckle back down and get focused to prepare for an even stronger performance in front of the largest crowd the members would ever perform for.  As Michael had said "You have made a promise...... now we have to follow through".

Last rehearsal of the year
So back to rehearsal and this time we were in a local tennis club.  WGI had told us that they had completely sold out of rehearsal space.  Luckily we had seen a sign in the hotel door about the tennis club so called up and booked 3 hours.  It was another focused rehearsal with 2 or 3 areas we wanted to look at.  One of the most amazing things about this week has been the growth of the guard.  In reality we have only had a total of 23 hours of rehearsal but the daily practice has built muscle memory and a level of consistency we haven't seen in the guard for quite some time.  It gave the staff confidence that we will have a good show no matter what.

So after rehearsal it was back to the hotel for a few hours of down time and show prep.  After some debate, the staff had decided to bring the guard back early to watch the last half of the Scholastic World Class finals so they could get comfortable with the size of the audience.

This pic gives you an idea of the size of the audience
It also meant there was no chance of getting stuck in traffic again and rushing to get ready!  Quite a few of the groups we watched had nervy performances, resulting in more drops than normal......until Tarpon Springs came on and totally dominated the class (eventually winning by over 3 points which is usually unheard of).  Tarpon is also written by Michael Shapiro, and their version of New York, New York had the fans on their feet.

So Scholastic World finished and Mayflower's final show prep started.  Very familiar by now.  Check in....Body warm up....Equipment warm up... Top of tunnel and get your stuff sorted.... Down the ramp into the pre show holding area ... Final words from staff... Grab your stuff and head out on to the floor.  The crowd reaction as Mayflower was announced was a deafening roar and the members were excited but focused as they entered one last time to 'leaving on a jet plane' to set up.

The guard had their best run of the season and one of the few standing ovations of the night (only to be bested by Black Gold - who won fan favourite and Pride of Cincinnati (eventual winners).  The staff normally asks who had their best run of the year - and this time 90% of the guard raised their hands - you can't ask for more than that.

So onto retreat - an amazing experience for everyone and something great for all those who hadn't experienced it before.  Hearing the announcer say "Mayflower is a 4 time WGI World Class finalist" had all the staff and supporters beaming with pride.
So onto the results and Mayflower ended up with their highest score and position (8th with a 89.5) in their history of WGI.  We could not be happier and more proud (not 'Prouder' - Ceri Smith :-).  We had a lot of fun on the floor and many pics were taken.  Mayflower has made MANY fans with lots of high school girls 'fan girling' Mayflower, asking for pics etc.  Barry asked the members to NOT bring their hat boxes and Louie cases back with them.  As it turned out, it was not hard to get rid of them and many other guard members ended up taking the cases away as a memory of WGI.

Time to head back to the hotel and some partying.  Whilst everyone was exhausted many parties went on to the early hours of the morning.

Tomorrow is a shopping day and a day to pack, reflect and celebrate before we fly home Monday.

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Day 5 - semi finals

It's semi finals day! A bit of a 'ground hog' day in that it followed a very similar pattern to yesterday's prelims prep.  We have been fortunate to have Centerville High School as our main rehearsal venue and today we were able to use the main auditorium.  Having reviewed the video and listened to the judges tapes we had a few areas of the show we wanted to focus on and refine a little more, so the rehearsal focused on that as well as repping through the show.

Mayflower and Purdue 
We were fortunate to have an audience today as Purdue (Independent A class) joined us.  They have kindly helped us out by loaning us the luggage trolley for our show, so it was only fitting to get a picture of both guards around the trolley.

We had a great rehearsal and the best run of the year at the end.  Consistency is the name of the game and we are starting to get very consistent.

So back to the hotel and some down time (in the pouring rain!).  It's worth mentioning that the weather has been awful!  Cold and rainy (and even a little snow).

Final staff talk before the show

Sadly, when it was time to head back to the arena for our semi finals show, the weather was pouring with rain.  A rather nervy drive, stuck in traffic meant that when we arrived we had to be super efficient and quickly unload the van and get in the dry.

Day 2 of process begins to get familar with check in, body warm up, equipment warm up then briefly outside into the cold to move to the top of the tunnel. Then into the 'holding area' for final prep and words from the staff.  Given we had no WGI 'virgins' anymore, everyone was relaxed.  The key to this is to focus on the performance rather than the competition and we have continued with this philosophy all week.  So the guard entered the floor for semi finals and a great crowd reaction.  They guard was calm and had an amazing run and one of the best crowd reactions.

After the performance we quickly loaded the van and headed back to the arena to watch the last few World guards, then back to the hotel to await the results. The scores were in quickly but we managed to get everyone not to look!  So once again we announced the scores from 1st on and when we announced that Mayflower had moved up a spot to 7th and scored over 90, the guard and supporters were elated - lots of hugging and tears!

So we get to do it all again one more time on the biggest stage in the world to the biggest crowd.  The amount of support from back home and around the world has been amazing and we are so thankful. Tomorrow we have a later start and another 3 hour rehearsal then some down time and we perform at 9.50pm (2.50am UK time).  See you on the other side!

Friday, 8 April 2016

Day 4 - PRELIMS day

Prelims day has arrived and we feel very ready, calm and prepared.  We had a short 3 hour rehearsal at Centerville today so a late start and an early finish is the plan. But first Rob and Barry headed over to the arena to check in.  Whilst it's a big arena it has an intimate feel and is amazingly calming.

We then headed over to rehearsal which went well - we drilled into a couple of areas and focused on performance, detail and communication.  After rehearsal we headed back to the hotel for some down time.  Two of our American families prepared an amazing Mexican feast for the guard, which was much appreciated and great bonding time.  The guard then headed off for some downtime and show prep.

We headed over to the arena to watch the round before ours so the members could acclimatise themselves to the arena before their performance.  For about half the guard, this is their first time performing at UoD so it was important they feel comfortable and not intimidated by the size of the place!

For many of us who have been to Dayton several times, the process of preparation is becoming very familiar (which is a nice feeling!).  Check-in, body warm-ups, transit, equipment warm-ups, down the tunnel into the holding area and then onto the arena.  With the large tarp we used it was heavy going but all went well and we got on and off well within our time.

Prelims run
Although the prelims show is never a sell out, the crowd was very receptive to Mayflower and they received a full standing ovation.  The guard felt good about their performance.  Much of what we worked on, showed up yet there were still errors than can be fixed.

After our performance it was time for the official photographs and then head back to the hotel and await the prelims score.  As in previous years we congregated in the hotel foyer and had only one person 'refreshing their phone' furiously awaiting WGI to publish the scores.  Being in the last performance round we would know immediately of our position and ranking going into semi finals.  It was a tense 30 mins as we awaited the score.

To much cheering and jubilation, Rob announced that we had scored an 88.3 and placed 4th in our round and 8th overall.  This is an amazing achievement, our highest position ever as well as our highest score.  So some celebrations but also the awareness that tomorrow is a new day and a different set of judges so we can't rest of our laurels and everyone will want to ensure we have an even stronger run tomorrow.

We really appreciate all the support from back home and around the world, it means so much to us and we can feel the love!!

So onto semi finals.....

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Day 3 - From challenging Tuesday to wonderful Wednesday

After a successful day of rehearsal and the exhibition with Bellbrook and Centerville High School, today will be our last long day of rehearsal at Centerville.

We spent much of the rehearsal re-enforcing the changes we made yesterday and getting used to the larger performance space.  It has made a huge difference to the show and at times made the 'far away' concept much clearer.  It has also helped us look less cluttered and 'on top of each other'.  Michael was back to focus on refining the very end of the show.  Taking a more structured approach to rehearsal ensured we covered all the areas we needed to and were super efficient with our time.  The guard got much more confident on the bigger floor and things started to feel and look great.  As many of you know we tested the new Facebook tool to do a live broadcast.  It was fantastic to be able to do that for our friends, family and fans back home and across the world and the video has now been watched by 11,300 people!

After an early finish, we headed to Bellbrook for supper at Applebees and a second exhibition performance with Bellbrook HS (Scholastic World), Northview HS (Scholastic World) and Allegoria (Independent Open).  Our performance was MUCH stronger as the members start to get used to the larger floor (and jet lag starting to subside!) and received a great reception.
End of a very satisfying day!

We then headed back to the hotel for some down time before prelims tomorrow.

Tomorrow is a long day as we prepare for our prelims performance at 9.05pm, so a late rise is the plan.  We have a short 3 hour rehearsal and then are being cooked for by some of the mums of our US members.

For all our fans back home, that means a UK performance time of 2.05am Friday morning.  If any of you stay up to watch it, kudos to you and THANK YOU!

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Day 2 in Dayton - It's a rehearsal and performance day

After a fun evening in local restaurants, everyone got an early night (after being up for 24 hours) and some much needed sleep.

Tuesday morning started with a 'pole  party' which isn't quite as exciting as it sounds - with all members reassembling poles, weights and flags (thanks to Jodi from Centerville and Sheldon from Bellbrook for the loan of the poles).

We then headed over to Centerville for day 1 of rehearsals.  We are using a much larger floor in Dayton so today was all about opening out the show to fill the Dayton arena.  We were fortunate to have Michael Shapiro spend the day with us working on the staging and refining parts of the programme.

Tuesdays are often a challenging day for the guard as we assemble props and get used to new environments, tarps, equipment etc. and this Tuesday proved to be no exception!  The first floor we received wasn't quite as large as we had hoped so after some further conversations we were able to get hold of an additional tarp and make the floor the size we needed. A HUGE thanks to Lynsey and the MEPA circuit for their amazing support of Mayflower.

Our goal is to cover as much as of the black Dayton floor with our tan tarp.  This means opening the show up considerably from how we have been performing in the UK and of course, this in itself caused some additional challenges.  But by the end of rehearsal we had worked through the show and restaged things.

Smile for the camera!  Mayflower at Centerville HS
After finishing rehearsal at 5pm we had the chance to get some food before an exhibition performance with Bellbrook and Centerville High Schools.  There was a sizeable and enthusiastic crowd and Mayflower was able to get their first public US performance under their belts.  It wasn't the best run but we get another chance tomorrow when we are performing at Bellbrook HS in the evening.

Tomorrow is another rehearsal day. Michael will be joining us to work on the very end of the show and we will be focusing on getting everyone comfortable with the new floor and opened up staging.

We got back to the hotel by 9.30pm and an early night for a jet lagged guard!

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Dayton - Day 1 - We're leaving on a jet plane

This trip started a lot earlier than previous trips with a 7.30am flight from London to Washington.  We then had a very short lay over before catching our flight to Dayton – this meant we arrived earlier than we usually do, and by 3pm we had arrived at the hotel.
"Leaving on a jet plane'

The rest of the afternoon was spent remaking props, picking up flag poles, buying weights, receiving our borrowed Tarp (thanks to Lynsey and the MEPA circuit for helping us out) and our borrowed luggage trolley (thanks to Purdue).

Our final US members arrived later in the evening and now everyone is here and catching up on some much needed sleep.

Tomorrow is a rehearsal day with Michael Shapiro.