The goal was simple.
When Drum Corps Associates set out plans for the summer of 2021, the hope was, of course, to create a positive experience for its members and a compelling product for its fans. But specifically, when all boiled down, the hope was to make it to the finish line, and to do so safely.
Mission accomplished — and then some.
With the conclusion of the DCA Championships on September 5, Drum Corps Associates and its 12 participating competing corps — as well as a handful of alumni and mini corps — completed the ultimate test, having navigated through the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic to create a safe, competitive virtual drum corps season.
“It feels good,” DCA president John Carr said. “I’m proud of the fact that we were able to provide a safe environment for drum corps, and provide that opportunity for people of all ages to participate, keep everyone safe, and have a competitive season.”
In short, the DCA season featured eight weeks of virtual competition, in which participating corps captured remote videos of their performances, and Box Five Media presented those recordings to a live audience, week in and week out.
The broadcasts, on top of displaying the talent and growth-over-time of DCA’s ensembles, also brought to life the many storylines and individuals that make the DCA community special.
According to Carr, one of the major keys to a successful 2021 season was flexibility from all parties involved. That flexibility was made possible by a joint motivation to make a positive season happen.
“Everyone worked together and was willing to tweak here, tweak there, bend here,” Carr said. “DCA corps will find a way to work together, to get it to work. There is a really strong collaborative spirit within DCA.”
Along the way, lessons were learned that will undoubtedly shape the future of the DCA brand and activity.
No, the expectation isn’t to continue with an all-virtual model in the future. But with the success of 2021’s virtual offering, the hope is to find a compelling crossroads between a traditional in-person competitive experience, as well as this summer’s virtual offering, in 2022 and beyond.
But more importantly, the brand and value of DCA was solidified and vividly displayed by the efforts put forth in 2021.
DCA and its participants, this summer, were able to take the accessible, all-age, low-pressure and weekend-only model that has been DCA’s calling card for decades, and brought it to life within the virtual sphere.
“DCA is a weekend activity, and that’s what makes us different,” Carr said. “I think if you start watching us in the beginning of the season, and watch how these corps really get better and better by the end of the year, you can see a significant difference.”
“DCA is a weekend activity, and that’s what makes us different– John Carr – DCA President
Ultimately, an incredible debt of gratitude goes out from Drum Corps Associates to all of the individuals who made the 2021 season a success.
The performers and corps staff and administration, the professionals at Box Five Media, the DCA staff team, and countless passionate fans all had a major hand in bringing the DCA community to life this summer.
“Just a big thank you, really, to everyone for sticking with us for the support,” Carr said. “We do this for the fans; we do this for the members. We’re one big community of drum corps, and we were just excited to be able to bring something to the stage this summer.”
“My kudos goes to all the marching arts organizations that also have been able to successfully have a great season during extraordinary time dealing with this pandemic,” he added.
With such a strong community bond, the best is yet to come.
“If we could get through this year,” Carr said, “we can get through the years ahead.”