Ayanna Winter Guard doing drills during practice in the W building on Nov. 22, 2014. (Concepcion Gonzalez/Courier)

Ayanna Winter Guard doing drills during practice in the W building on Nov. 22, 2014. (Concepcion Gonzalez/Courier)

With flags twirling, the students participating in the Ayanna Winter Guard practiced drills last month to prepare for their 2014-2015 season.

Unlike the Lancer Color Guard, Ayanna starts after the fall Lancer Band season. Returning students are encouraged to join and new students are required to go through auditions.

“A good handful transfer over into the indoor program,” said Raul Torres, a choreographer and instructor. “Which is great because then we have them from the day they start which is August though April. So we see them often.”

The Ayanna Winter Guard practices Tuesdays, Thursdays, and some Saturdays to prepare for upcoming local and state championships.

Students practicing come and do stretches in a group as well as learn the basic fundamentals of ballet and different types of dance.

“It’s a challenge for choreographers because everyone has their own sense of style,” Torres said. “It takes a couple of weeks and then they get into it and it comes together.”

Along with Torres the Winter Guard has three additional instructors which include Joey Leon, Enrique Miramontes, and Deborah Seeley.

“[Leon] helps with the choreograph,” said Miramontes, who is the caption head of the Winter Guard. “He makes them look good together.”

With the help of Torres and Leon, Seeley helps the students perfect their body movements.

“She does a lot,” Torres said. “She teaches this one, she teaches the Lancer one, and she’s the head director of the Tournament of Roses one.”

Some of this seasons Ayanna participants have also qualified for the Tournament of Roses Honor Band. According to Torres, the students who wanted to participate had to have tried out in an audition with about 100 others from various high schools and colleges.

“Here we have three out of the Ayanna Winter Guard who will be participating,” Torres said.

Each of the participating Ayanna members has to pay a $250 fee as well as fundraise. This helps cover overnight trips and costumes.

The Ayanna Winter Guard will be participating in local competitions as well as traveling to Fresno and possibly Arizona to compete.

“The past two seasons we’ve done very well,” Torres said. “Our first season we were undefeated locally. Last year we took second in championships. These kids work hard so it pays off in the end.”

This season, the Winter Guard is mostly composed of returning members.

“At first it’s going to be hard,” said Ashley Santillana, a second year member.

The beginning of the Winter Guard season is filled with drills as new and returning students practice with flags, sabers, and rifles as well as learning new dance routines.

“The finished production hasn’t been set in stone. We’re just in the beginning stages,” Torres said. “They’ll review techniques. We’ll go through each piece of equipment. Into the season when we have our production set we clean up the dirty edges for their competitions.”

The Ayanna Winter Guard takes part in the Southern California Championships and the State Championships.

Winter Guard competitions are based on points, which the participants earn by not dropping their props and their body alignments when moving. In total there are three judges that watch out for mistakes; an equipment judge, a separate movement judge, and a general effects judge.

“These kids handle it well,” Torres said. “I call them kids, but their adults. The handle it very well and people outside looking in say ‘I can handle this, I can do this perfectly,’ but once you hand them a flag and tell them to spin it and walk at the same time it’s a whole new ballgame for anyone.”

The first competition that Ayanna will be participating in is on January 30th at the Southern California level.

“State Championships get very intense,” said Torres. “But at the end of the day as long as the members are having a good time and making memories, that’s what matters to us.”


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