Downingtown East’s Winter Percussion: From the Ground Up Takes to the Floor

Al Johnson, Staff Writer

For the 2022-23 school year at Downingtown East, Downingtown Winter Percussion performs their show From the Ground Up. In the past Downingtown East and West have been one group performing together, just like they are currently in Outdoor Marching Band. Last year was the first year that East and West split up and became two separate programs for Winter Percussion. Tyler Profe, Program Coordinator and Visual Designer Staff, explained, “This is actually a show that has been in the works for a few years. Every year the design team gets together to talk through some show concept that could work for the upcoming season. Some are put in the “great but not this group” category. Some are put in the “maybe in a few years” category, and some are added to a list that will be genuinely discussed for the upcoming season. “From the Ground Up” has been on that final list for multiple seasons.” The theme of the show is both figurative and literal.

‘Literally’ the performers are “building from the ground up”, starting by laying on the ground then standing on top of props. ‘Figuratively’, the show has a deeper meaning that most might not be aware of when watching. The theme symbolizes the program “building from the ground up” with all new staff and program. The group is building a “home” starting last season and continuing into this year. The show even includes ASL for the word “home” that the drumline signs. Props have also been built, which are being moved around on wheels and some are lifted during different points in the show. By the end of the show a massive triangle is placed on top to symbolize the roof of the house being made. 

Indoor percussion is defined as a type of marching ensemble consisting of the battery (drumline) and front ensemble instruments. The battery plays on what is called a floor. The floor is a tarp-like mat that has a design printed on it that is related to the theme of the show. This year’s floor is a forest floor design that represents the ground. Indoor is much more visually focused, even techniques used in ballet are included. Some indoor shows can be used to tell a story, and some use more concrete themes.

Tyler Profe, Program Coordinator and Visual Designer Staff, meets with the design team to figure out the music, aesthetics, and visual presentation of the show. From there he takes things into his own hands and works with a designer and company to create the floor and uniform designs. Tyler is in charge of helping to design a show logo, plan what props will look like, and create a write up for the show. Once the season begins he coordinates with Maryann Ricciuti, the Staff Director, and other caption heads every week. As music is written Tyler converts the music into a visual movement for the battery to perform on the floor. 

A personal touch Tyler added was a poem he wrote for the show called “We Spoke to the Ground.” He created the poem specifically for the show, so it could connect the different sections of the show together. The phrase “we spoke to the ground” is repeated throughout the entire performance. Tyler explained, “I don’t remember how it came to me but “we spoke to the ground” felt like a great phrase that could be added on to, adapted, and changed to best fit each part of the show.” Each of these phrases are meant to push the emotion even further during each big moment of the show. He reveals, “For example “to build something as strong as the bones within our body” was meant to match both the positive feeling of the song “Earth” by Imogen Heap, and to match the lifting of the props to become the walls of the house.” The final reveal displays that the ground taught them how to “Build a Home” as well as revealing to the audience that they have been constructing a house this whole time.