2022 WGI Guard World Championships

THE WORLD-CLASS EXPERIENCE: Heather Dremel of Étude World - Episode #1

THE WORLD-CLASS EXPERIENCE: Heather Dremel of Étude World - Episode #1

Follow along with Etude World's 2022 WGI season through monthly member vlogs, titled THE WORLD CLASS EXPERIENCE, created by third-year vet Heather Dremel!

Feb 17, 2022 by Natalie Shelton

FloMarching's WORLD-CLASS EXPERIENCE vlog series aims to bring Flo readers an inside look at world-class marching ensembles. These monthly installments follow members from Étude World and STRYKE Percussion, and will run through WGI World Championship Finals in Dayton, Ohio.


The season the music died

I remember, vividly, how I felt on March 12, 2020, when the board of WGI decided to cancel all contests for the remainder of the season. I’m pretty sure I curled into a ball and cried on the ground for at least a few hours. And I know I wasn’t the only one. My world class career started late. I was already an old crow that season. And all I could think of was that my last chance to perform in world class finals was suddenly gone. 

Despite the challenges we faced in 2020, Etude decided not to let that stop us. In 2021, we were given the opportunity for a virtual season. Sure, it wasn’t the same as our regular old sticks in a gym, but it was better than nothing. 

By the time fall of 2021 rolled around, we were starving for a regular season. And since we have now learned how to function in “new normal,” Etude has been able to come back together once again.

This season feels different. We have waited years to pull out the tarp and hear the announcer say our name. This weekend is our first show, and we are so excited to share our 2022 program, Unicorn. 

Presenting their 2022 program…

This weekend was our first official show of the season. The absolute euphoria of hearing the CWEA kids, friends, and family screaming for us as we walked onto the floor is indescribable. We have waited so long to perform and we are extremely proud of the product we are presenting. 

This year’s production is entitled Unicorn. We all understand that unicorns are these mythical creatures we only dream of. Which is very similar to the concept of perfection. Perfection is not attainable. However, if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence. And that’s what this show is really about. You can spend so much time trying to strive for the unattainable, beating yourself up and knocking yourself down in the process, but learning to accept your excellent and perfectly imperfect self is so much more valuable and beautiful in the end. 

Experience a show weekend with Étude World

In this vlog, I’m taking you along on a journey through a typical show weekend with Étude World! From packing, to rehearsal, to show day; you’ll be along for it all.

Our typical show weekends start on Friday night. We rehearse from 9pm to midnight, squeezing in a short dance class and equipment technique block before diving into sections of the show. It goes by incredibly fast and before you know it, you’re headed to sleep and waking up on a show day.

Show days are a wonderful whirlwind. In the morning I did my show hair to save time later on during show prep. Then I grabbed my show day duffle and headed to rehearsal! 

This time, we were able to rehearse for a good few hours, which helped us feel very prepared and confident going into the show. Upon arrival at the show site, we unloaded the truck, finished up hair and makeup, and headed to hallway warmup. Hallway warmup is a chunk of time we spend stretching and warming up our bodies before the event-sanctioned warm-up. We also take time to do a mental run-through of our show. Once we were in body and equipment warm-up, I honestly felt like I blinked and it was over. I remember warm-up always feeling short, but having been away for two years made it feel even shorter!

Then, it was finally time to take the floor with Étude once again. The crowd was so loud at times, we couldn’t even hear the soundtrack. I remember at one point, when I was close enough to one of my castmates, just saying… “this is so much fun.” And, it was. It was beautiful, euphoric, magical, and so exhilarating. I felt alive again. One of the coolest parts of marching with Étude is being able to perform alongside people you truly love. We are definitely a family, and I’m proud to be part of it. 

When we came off the floor and saw our staff, they shared how proud they were of us. The venue was tiny (which happens a lot in World Class with our big old tarps) and at points we were literally crawling into the bleachers to get equipment and go behind the tarp. Despite the challenges of the show site, we put out a great version of our show, which ended up putting the staff into tears. 

The hard work paid off, but we know there’s so much more to do. We had rehearsal on Sunday and it was a jam-packed, productive day. I’m so excited about this season, this show, and the people I’m sharing the floor with. Most of all, I feel very grateful that we are able to do this activity again. 

Why colorguard is so special

As performers in WGI, we live in this insanely niche world. While you have thousands of people screaming for you at World Class Finals, you also have to explain what winterguard is to your boss, family, and friends outside the activity. The community is tight knit and so special. 

Over my 14 years in the activity, here are some lessons that colorguard has taught me:

  1. It doesn’t matter where you come from or where you marched

  2. If at first you don’t succeed, try until you do

  3. Perfection is a myth, so don’t chase it; chase excellence

  4. You’re never too old

  5. It’s never too late

  6. You never know when the world may take something away from you, so hold on to it while you can 

So, that’s a wrap on my first blog and vlog of this series! I can’t wait to continue sharing Étude with all of you!