Band takes audience on trip to Paris in their latest show


The band has a wide array of props that appear in their show like this rolling bridge. ( Ricardo Martin Photo)

Those who attend the Duncanville Marching Invitational today will have the chance to view the latest state marching show put together by the DHS marching band titled ‘ Postcards from Paris.’  This year’s marching show captures the many wonders and beauty that the city of lights has to offer. Featuring different variations of well-known French music as well as releasing the unique culture that this city presents, the band recently received unanimous One ratings from the judges at the Region 20 UIL Marching contest and will be headed to the Area contest shortly after this weekends exhibition.

“I think this is a very different and unique show for Duncanville High School,” band director David Brandon said.  “It’s fun,  and it’s full of exciting music that we love.”

The band is excited about their chances of keeping their tradition going of advancing to the state marching contest every year since 1988.

“We encourage our students to work really hard,” Brandon said. “There’s going to be a pay-off eventually.

Brandon says they may not win every contest they go to however there is more to being part of the show as well as the program.

“I want to win every contest, but the biggest benefit of being in band is learning the benefits of hard work, long-term projects and things that will benefit our students in life,” Brandon said.

This year’s marching show includes music from famous French composers such as Ravel, Satie, and Offenbach. Director Mark Teal says these pieces are placed in the show’s music composition and showcased in the final marching performance on the field. The opening features ‘Gymnopédies no 1’ by Erik Satie. Then the show moves to the ‘Suite Francaise’ composed by Milhaud in the second part.

The Band is nicely framed in the show by flowers from Paris within the dancing routines of the High Hats. (Ricardo Martin photo)
The Band is nicely framed in the show by flowers from Paris within the dancing routines of the High Hats. (Ricardo Martin photo)

“It’s one of the most popular wind band literature pieces out there,” Teal said.  “This piece gets played a lot, but no one’s ever done it on the field. So we were excited about trying that.”

Teal also mentions the improvisations and musical additions made to the pieces in parts three, four and five of the show.

“I was watching a ‘Looney Tunes’ cartoon once and the pizzicato from the opera, ‘Sylvia’ by Delibes, another French composer, came on,” Teal said. “I immediately thought, ‘That would be a lot of fun to add into our show.”

Originally, this piece was not in the final show. But after some discussion on wanting a comical, yet catchy tune, the directors came up with a compromise to how they can add it in.

“In one of our design meetings, our staff said what if the pizzicato theme (which is traditionally performed with very high violins being plucked) was played in the lowest instrument possible?” Teal said.  “This is when we decided to make it a tuba solo where we also feature woodwinds answering back in a ‘ching-ching’ tune.”

Teal said someone in the meeting then said “A ching-ching noise, like a bicycle bell would be great.”


“This idea inspired the bike props added in movement three where there are students who ride on bicycles across the field while the band is in an arc set,” Teal said.

Part four of the show  features a ballad-like melody where the directors wanted to have a beautiful moment in the piece. During this part there is a big footbridge that comes out onto the field. After that the band forms this huge flower set on the field.

“It’s supposed to be where we’re traveling through gardens, like the ones in Versailles,” Teal said. “This part is all based on Ravel’s piece ‘Pavane for a Dead Princess.’ The title sounds very depressing but it’s one of the most beautiful pieces of music out there.”

Teal then mentions how the final movement of the show will feature one of the most well-known French pieces there is, “The Infernal Gallop’ also known as the ‘Can-Can’ from Offenbach’s ‘Orpheus in the Underworld”

“Everybody knows that tune. That’s the one that we’re going to end our show with,” Teal said.  “Everybody is just going to go home singing and humming it because it’s so catchy.”

With the assistance of High Hats, the band takes audiences on a tour of Paris in the show ‘Postcards from Paris’ this year. Characters like this appear throughout the show.

Just like last year’s marching show, there will be a character featured within the performance. Unlike last year, this character won’t just be played by just one person.

“There’s an overlying character, her name is Emma” Teal said. “The play starts out with high hat Dawn Burch and then in part two Emma’s character is taken over by sophomore Kamryn Crowder.”

Aside from Emma, there are other memorable characters that play a part in this production as well.

“Part three is where the characters are all the bicyclists show up.” Teal said. “Even all of the winds, especially in part three and four, are going to be characters themselves.”

Just like last state year, this year’s show will feature choreographed moves that the band makes while performing.  Drum Major Citlalli Rodriguez said she is very excited for what these will bring to the field.

“I can’t wait for the moves that they’re going to add into the show every week,” Rodriguez said. “Because I know that it’s going to make the show look so much better. And I know that’s what the crowd really likes.”

Aside from the band’s part of the show, the Duncanville High Hats will be performing with them on the way to state. With the new production, there are challenges for them as well.

“The music is really hard ,” high hat director Kristi Beaty said. “I can imagine if it’s hard for a musician, it’s hard for a dancer. We have to understand the counts structure and musicality so we can choreograph to it. Our job is to enhance what the band sounds like. You hear the band’s music, but our choreography should allow you to see the band’s music as well.”

Every year the competition changes on the road to the State contest. Both the band and the High Hats understand what is at stake this year. 

High Hats ad to the color of the show with their dancing routines  moving within the marching and music. (Ricardo martin photo)
High Hats ad to the color of the show with their dancing routines moving within the marching and music. (Ricardo martin photo)

“There’s so much more that is asked about marching band now,” Beaty said. “It’s not just about marching and playing music anymore. It’s about including props adding to the atmosphere and feeling of whatever it is your show is supposed to display. For us this show is about making spectators feel like they are in Paris.”

The high hats will also have new outfits to wear during their performances along with new flags featured in the show. These were first debuted at the homecoming game. 

“Our new outfit is called tre chic,” Beaty said. “It’s red and blue with black and white stripes. I think they are very classy.”

The band hopes to make this show entertaining as making this a winning combination for the State Marching Contest later this year. Teal says this show features everything it takes to have an award winning show.

“There’s comedy, there’s light-heartedness, there’s some poignant, serious moments, but overall it’s a fun and bright show,” Teal said. “I thought we have done so much dark-type shows lately that this is going to be a lot of fun just for everybody and for us to go to.”