Several months ago I posted to our local great dane group to see if anyone was interested in starting a drill team. I was interested, but had no inclination to try this out on my own. Kenned pretty much immediately responded that she was interested and that was kind of where it was left for a few months. With some emailing back and forth between Kennedy and I after a while, she wanted to try looking for more people so that we could really get this under way. There were some new puppy people to the group who were sort of interested and then we had some long time members who were also interested, but also had breeds other than great danes and were interested in joining with them. Essentially we created our own email list to keep everyone in touch more easily and off we went!
Our first meeting was without the dogs and it was a general organisational sort of meeting. We needed to discuss what our aims were, what organizing bodies were there out there, and what did we want to do. Basically, there are two styles of drill team. There is the traditional obedience drill team where all members of the team go through the obedience exercises together, also getting scored on their synchronization as well as the traditional scoring. The other form is a canine freestyle type of drill team. There are several variations on this theme, but essentially the team does movements set to music. Based on what organisation you go through and what level you're at, there are specific movements that need to be included. For now, I won't go into the different governing bodies or specifically what we were looking for. The consensus of the group was that it would be great to mostly work on the canine freestyle form of drill team with the goal of slowly working in enough precision to eventually do a traditional obedience drill team.
With that figured out, we set up our very first practice with the dogs. This was a very informal practice and was more of a getting together to see how the dogs would focus and generally how we were going to pull this off. We had two members who weren't able to make it, but we pressed on. We started off with some traditional heeling and heeling on the off side for a warm up. From there we did simple exercises like sits, downs, stands and such from a variety of positions. Since we had a pretty young dane in the group at that time, we just really wanted to get a feel for where everyone was at in training so that we could individually go home and start working on our weaker areas.
After that practice, we had one member decide that it wasn't for her and picked up another person. We have also since had one more person decide that this might not work out for her after all. Also during this time we scored ourselves a choreographer! That's right folks. We've got a choreographer!!:) One morning I was grabbing some coffee with my friend Rene and I was just chatting with her about the first practice of the drill team and just generally describing to her what it was about. Without me asking (I have to emphasize this so that people don't think that I walk around coercing other people into things.......which I often do......just not this time), she just volunteered herself to help with the choreography! She has done choreography previously for ballroom dancing and was very enthusiastic about trying it out with dog and handler teams. And I do mean enthusiastic. Once I ran it past the group and it sounded like we had a general consensus, Rene pretty much immediately went to work. She started looking stuff up online, checking out YouTube, and starting to formulate ideas. And I seriously mean immediately! I looked up some stuff on YouTube and when I would mention them to her I usually got a "oh yeah, I've seen that one." She was all over it like white on rice! She already knew where to find music, what programs to use to slow it down, speed it up, or mesh different pieces together. She was already thinking of ideas for music styles and which songs would work best. For instance, right now since we're so new, something with words would probably be too distracting. At any rate, she pretty much threw herself into this and I was thrilled to hear about it as she was going along.
Fast forward to today.:) As it stands now, it looks like our drill team will be five members strong including two great danes, one bullmastiff, one tibetan mastiff, and one corgi. Having the corgi in the midst of these giants will afford us all sorts of opportunities for entertaining moves!:) And she already knows how to play dead.LOL
We started off the practice session with some heeling in heel position and in the off side. This was really helpful because it got the dogs into work mode and also allowed us to start assessing the speeds of various dog/handler teams. From there, Rene stepped in. And in true form, she came highly prepared! She had handouts for all of us breaking down the choreography. She also had burned us all CDs with the music on it so that we could practice the moves at home as well as getting used to walking with our dogs to a beat. That's something that can be a little trickier than you might think! She had us doing the basic movements. Then we did some heeling with the music to get a feel for walking to a beat. Then we started putting the choreography to the music. Once our brains were happily addled, we put the dogs off to the side and worked on the moves without them. From there, we took a little mental break and then worked on some moves on an individual basis. To wrap it up, we did a little of the work with the dogs. By that time, it was REALLY starting to rain. Thankfully we had a covered area that we were practicing under, but it was starting to get a little uncomfortable. We decided to end there and go home to start practicing on our own.
I've posted our group shot above.:) I know I said that I was excited before, but I'm even more excited now!! It's a great group of people and we all are meshing quite well. And I know that we are going to look so great out there when we get this all down. Either way, we'll have a blast!