Drum Corps International
Spotlight of the Week: 1987 Star of Indiana
DCI Defualt ImagePhoto by: Drum Corps International

Spotlight of the Week: 1987 Star of Indiana

by Michael Boo


1987 Star of Indiana
Santa Clara Vanguard's costumed spectacular was the scoring favorite heading into the last week of the 1987 Drum Corps International Tour, undefeated until arriving at Madison, Wisconsin's Camp Randall Stadium. The corps then lost to Garfield Cadets' "Appalachian Spring" show by a half a point in the Semifinals and a tenth of a point in the Finals, both corps ending the season winning one caption and tying for two others. The Cavaliers moved up from 5th in the Semifinals to place in the top three for the second time in DCI history. Tied for 7th place was the Velvet Knights with their first "Magical Mystery Tour" show and the third-year corps Star of Indiana, performing what is now generally referred to as "The Circus Show," though it later also became known as "The Greatest Show on Turf." Star's show was a circus spectacular, with jugglers, a magician, and a couple of dancing pink elephants performing in front of the 20-yard-long circus train set that filled the back of the field. The front ensemble performers were dressed in circus attire and the backfield conductor was a clown. At times, the visual cornucopia of circus references seemed to dominate the music and drill formations. The show started with "Barnum and Bailey's Favorite," a 1913 march by Karl King, a largely self-taught musician with an 8th grade education. King composed more than 300 marches, mostly for circus bands. He played euphonium in various bands from 1910-1918 and conducted the Barnum and Bailey's Circus Band those last two years. The piece was appropriately quite loud.
The middle of the show was referred to as "Circus Suite," a medley comprised of Manual deFalla's "Ritual Fire Dance," Aram Khachaturian's "Sabre Dance" and Dmitri Kabelevsky's "Comedian's Galop." "Danza ritual del fuego" came from the Spanish composer deFalla's 1915 ballet, "El amor brujo (The Bewitched Love)." "Sabre Dance," is a movement from Armenian composer's Aram Khachaturian's 1942 Soviet folk ballet, "Gayne," featuring dancers displaying their prowess with the large sword-like devices. During the front ensemble introduction, a giant head of a tiger with a 30-yard-long body appeared from behind the circus train. After floating over the heads of the soprano buglers, the tiger went backfield, where the individual segments broke apart and became two groups of flags. A professional juggler was prominently featured during this segment, which ended with a reprise of "Ritual Fire Dance." After a pause, the medley continued with Russian composer Kabelevsky's "Comedian's Galop" from "The Comedians," a 1940 10-movement suite extracted from earlier works he composed for a children's play. From the circus train appeared a panda spinning a rifle and a white bear with a baton. The juggler returned with three small boxes that he deftly manipulated in mid air so that none of the boxes fell on the ground. The color guard members, wearing billowing clown dresses, ran into the circus train to prepare for the next segment of the show.

1987 Star of Indiana
Prior to the grand finale was a ballad featuring a mellophone soloist, which was an original composition drawing upon the melody of the closer. This was combined with the instrumental introduction to "When You Wish Upon a Star," from Linda Rondstadt's 1986 album, "For Sentimental Reasons." The closer was "Thunder and Blazes," composed in 1897 by Czech composer Julius Fu?ík, whom is sometimes referred to as the "Bohemian Sousa." Originally, the piece was titled "Entry of the Gladiators." The title, "Thunder and Blazes," came from a 1910 arrangement by Canadian composer Louis-Philippe Laurendeau. The work is known as a "screamer march," meaning a fast piece intended to excite the circus-goers and often used during the introduction of clowns. Closing things out, two pink elephants appeared from the circus train and danced in the front of the field. After the corps formed a giant star shape on the left side of the field, the color guard members introduced large pink elephant windsocks. The show ended with a reintroduction of the featured performers and the release of dozens of colorful balloons from behind the circus train.

For this week only, you can save on the Legacy Collection DVD that contains this complete Star of Indiana performance, along with all finalists from the 1987 DCI World Championships.

Buy the 1987 Legacy Collection DVD. (Available this week only for 20% off. Regular price: $35.95.)

1987 Overview

Discount DVD offer ends Monday, Oct. 20, 2014
Michael Boo was a member of the Cavaliers from 1975-1977. He has written about the drum corps activity for more than a quarter century and serves as a staff writer for various Drum Corps International projects. Boo has written for numerous other publications and has published an honors-winning book on the history of figure skating. As an accomplished composer, Boo holds a bachelor's degree in music education and a master's degree in music theory and composition. He resides in Chesterton, Ind.