Drum Corps International
The DCI.org interview: Jessica O'Neill, Boston Crusaders' guard captain

The DCI.org interview: Jessica O'Neill, Boston Crusaders' guard captain

by Drum Corps International

Name, hometown, corps: My name is Jessica O'Neill. I'm from Cooper City, Fla. (a little town right in the middle of Ft. Lauderdale and Miami). For the past four years I have marched the Boston Crusaders.

Jessica O'Neill
What is your role in the corps this summer? I am color guard captain, along with Amy Hamilton.^ Where do you go to school, and what extracurricular activities are you involved with there? I currently attend the University of South Florida, located in Tampa. Being a dance major takes of most of my time, so my extracurricular activities deal with mostly dancing, such as performing in faculty concerts, working backstage during various concerts, and choreographing/ performing in our annual student dance production. Give us your full drum corps/marching music background, and how each position prepared you for the leadership role you're in this summer. I started marching color guard my ninth -de year at Cooper City High School. From the beginning, my instructors always preached "performance." Since I was always striving to perform at my highest capability, I began to take on unofficial leadership tasks which eventually turned into roles. When I came to Boston, I maintained the same performance expectations. Through the positive reinforcement and the strong leadership that the staff displayed, I continued to mature the leader inside of me. The last good book I read: "Harry Potter: The Order of the Phoenix," by J. K. Rowling. Through her use of vivid imagery, it's hard not to see yourself walking through the halls of Hogwarts with Harry and the gang. The last great film I saw: "Ameile." Awesome love story that just warms your heart. Three CDs I'd want on a deserted island:
1. Radiohead -- "Kid A"
2. John Mayer – "Heavier Things"
3. Incubus – "A Crow Left of the Murder" My favorite TV show: "Futurama." From the creater of "The Simpsons," this grown-up animation series is absolutely essential to my television viewing. Favorite performers: My favorite performer would have to be Michael Foley, a modern dancer. He possesses an internal energy when he moves which captivates his audiences. His choreographed pieces always offer an intellectual purpose for viewing. How do you "blow off steam?" I blow off steam by walking away. I find if I walk away from a situation I have time to think about what can be done to resolve the conflict more rationally, than if I stay in it's face. Why I march with the corps I am in: The family atmosphere. To know that members and staff alike sincerely care about you as a individual person makes you feel apart of something bigger than yourself. Was it always your goal to be in a leadership role? In my first year of drum corps, it was my goal to make it through the summer! But after that initial year, I knew that I wanted to make a positive difference in the drum corps experience of my peers. I wanted everyone to have the same love and passion for Boston that I have. How will you go about balancing the roles of leader and corpsmate? Balancing the roles of leader and corpsmate is all about communication. You are the line of communication between the staff and the members. As long as the line is open and operational, things run smoothly and people have great experiences. What has been your formative drum corps moment? Finals week 2003. Being diagnosed with multiple ulcers in both of my eyes the week of finals was a life-shattering event. We were unsure that I was going to be able to perform in finals, because I had lost vision in my right eye. I struggled with the fact that I had one more show to finish out a great season, but with deteriorating health. I feel that choosing to perform shaped me into being a stronger person. I realized how much this activity meant to me. How much I would sacrifice to perform one more time with my family. It was a defining moment in my drum corps career that I will never forget. Best drum corps show ever: Boston Crusaders 2000, DCI Finals. Sitting in the stands that night and watching the great achievements of that corps made me want to be a part of that. That show is why I joined Boston the following year. What are you most looking forward to about the summer? Performing the 2004 show. The color guard doesn't meet until April, but I have been at the monthly musician camps. Hearing the music and seeing the considerable progress the corps makes month to month has been torture not being able to start yet. Best thing about being a drum corps leader: Going out to retreat. That sense of tradition I get by standing next to the drum majors is like none other. Knowing that over 50 years of leaders have brought us to this point makes the leadership position worthwhile. Worst thing about being a drum corps leader: Being the "bad guy" from time to time. Enforcing the guidelines set by the corps doesn't go over well with everyone all the time. Most of the time, yes, but not all the time. During tour, the best part of the day is: Ensemble. Bringing together the musical and visual aspects of the show during that last block is what the whole day leads up to. Also, knowing that you're a couple hours closer to performing doesn't hurt. During tour, the worst part of the day is: Wakeup. It seems like only seconds ago you had just fallen asleep. Favorite drum corps personality and why: Jessica Allen. She has developed a great career out of drum corps through working for DCI and modeling for Fred J Miller. It brought light to how wonderful of a person as well as performer she is. What do you want to be when your drum corps career is over? I plan to go to graduate school and get into arts administration. I enjoy taking part in the arts through drum corps, and I'd like to land an administrative role that opens up a long future that has no age out.

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