‘Unalloyed joy’, take two

(first off, is that even a word–“unalloyed”? You’d think I’d make myself check stuff like that before I posted…)

So then, following up on examples of unalloyed joy in folks with developmental disabilities…I saw another example of this at a WGI Winter Guard show in April in San Jose. Winter Guard is a choreographed performance that includes dance moves to music and the spinning of equipment (flags, rifles) performed on an indoor basketball court.

This was a regional championship, with some great, great Winter Guards from throughout NorCal. Just amazing performers. After the final competing guard finished, there was an exhibition from the Blue Devils Special Needs Winter Guard.

(You can check it out here):

Spencer Trevarthen and the Blue Devils participate in Color Guards

Now these folks, God bless ’em, were doing the most basic of dance moves and twirling in a  less-than-uniform manner (albeit lovably),  AND they had to perform immediately after some of the best color guards on the planet. A recipe for disaster, right? Wrong. The crowd went nuts, absolutely crazy. AND, this unit got the only standing ovation of the night.

The reasons for this wonderful reception from the crowd had nothing to do with a bunch of neural typical folks trying to encourage some folks with disabilities. No. It was much, much more fundamental than that. This was a deep, primal reaction of the crowd to the unalloyed joy that these folks put into their performance.

To put it another way, the audience was a crowd of Winter Guard fans, which means a huge percentage of them were either current or past performers in the activity. What they saw with the Special Needs color guard was a reminder to them of the unalloyed joy that THEY themselves had the first time they twirled a rifle or tossed a flag. THAT is what I believe they were reacting to.

…and, it was what I was reacting to as well (even though I’m only a drummer 😉 I was there. I saw it and–more importantly–I felt it that night. It was no small thing–it was…like God walked into the room.

THIS is why I love working with folks with special needs. Yes.

(OK, *whew* I checked the online dictionary [no one lies on the internet, right?], and ‘unalloyed’ IS a word. My high school English teacher can rest easy now…)

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