Part 3: What happened to the drum corps activity in Quebec?

by Daniel Buteau, DCW staff

This article was originally published in the June 1, 2007 edition of Drum Corps World (Volume 36, Number 3). The first two parts can be found in the archives on this Web site.

Anyone who attended the 1990 DCI Championships in Buffalo, NY, had four opportunities to witness 11 minutes of pure magic. A relatively obscure class A/60 corps, Académie Musicale of Sherbrooke, QUE, stormed the event out of nowhere, not only capturing the DCI Class A/60 title, but also making a splash in open class by placing 23rd at semi-finals.

The tiny unit’s 23-member horn line even defeated DCI finalist Spirit of Atlanta in the brass caption at open class prelims.

The corps’ light classical repertoire was performed to near perfection. Never before had any class A/60 corps dared to tackle such a difficult musical book. Arrangements of Liberty Fanfare and Slavonic Dance were full of intricate brass articulations and continuous tempo changes. Académie Musicale never forced the volume levels, choosing instead to dazzle the crowd with magical interpretative qualities.

The corps, even though much too small to achieve significant field coverage, delighted the crowd with brilliantly designed body moves performed by all musicians. The show ended with brass members switching from playing their instruments to signing softly one after another.

The resulting delicate finish turned out to be one of the most amazing sound displays ever heard at a DCI Championships. The culminating hum haunted the memories of all in attendance.

While the corps had appeared at a few Drum Corps East contests in early July, Académie Musicale waited until the DCI Championships before turning its production into such a giant killer. Never before had such a small unit left such a memorable mark in DCI open class competition.

In 1996, another Québec unit created drum corps magic of a similar kind when Les Étoiles de Dorion-Vaudreuil, a corps of merely 63 members, grabbed the DCI Division II title from Pioneer, full at 128 members and undefeated until division II finals. It had taken the whole season for the late-starting Québec contender to clean its “Iron Will” package to perfection.

Nobody in attendance at the 1996 DCI Championships will ever forget the powerful soprano line, furiously rotating drum sets or the fast-paced drill performed with the confidence of a division I title contender. The corps would go on to shock division I by not merely cracking semi-finals, but also placing 15th.

At open class quarter-finals, Les Étoiles had even finished a mere 1.2 points way from 13th-place Glassmen. Not since Les Éclipses grabbed 15th place at the 1984 DCI World Championships could any corps claim the mantle of the best Québec top-12 hope in such a convincing manner.

Les Étoiles’ 1996 placement was not only revealing of the strength of the new brand of drum corps practiced in the province of Québec, but also of the weaknesses that plagued the North American drum corps activity from the mid- to late-1990s.

Never before had the provincial drum corps scene been so perfectly aligned with its American counterpart. This would prove to be not only rather short-lived, but would also turn out to be the swansong of the junior drum and bugle corps activity in the province of Québec.

Both the 1990 Académie Musicale and 1996 Les Étoiles took a package tailor-made for their talented members and brought it to near-perfect standards of performance. They were able to take the new Québec drum corps recipe to the ultimate level. Reaching perfection in the performance of a daringly difficult and highly original package had, by then, become the only way to achieve continued success in the Québec drum corps environment.

The two corps not only pushed the envelope on the field, but all aspects of their organizational functioning would have appeared hair-raising to their American competitors.

Anyone who saw the red Académie Musicale school buses making their way through the freeways of Jackson, MS, during the 1993 DCI Championships was left wondering how anybody could endure such heat and humidity with no air conditioning. All Québec corps that competed at the three DCI Championships held in Orlando in the late 1990s crossed the Eastern United States in primitive yellow school buses.

The new brand of drum corps practiced in Québec was not for the faint-hearted. It led to members enduring long distance travel in extremely difficult conditions. Things were also rather scary from the perspective of volunteer board members faced with piling debt loads and itchy members reconsidering their options every fall before committing to a given corps.

Despite being able to place two corps in the open class top-25 in 1990, the Québec drum corps community was still hurting from a string of bleak seasons that had started in 1987.

The number of corps in existence remained inconsistent and often dangerously small until 1994.

An FAMQ contest held in Chambly in 1991 featured only two units. The 1993 Québec Provincial Championships even welcomed a corps from Ontario to compensate for a short line-up. Contemporary Youth Ensemble changed its name and hometown for one day, proclaiming itself as l’Ensemble Contemporains des Jeunes from Hull, QUE, a city located one bridge away from the corps’ hometown of Ottawa, ONT.

The corps still in existence also tended to be very small and highly unstable from year to year. Most relied on the efforts of passionate designers and instructors rather than on the grassroots organizations that were commonplace in earlier decades. These talented staff members, often driven by zealous artistic and competitive visions, inspired corps members to such an extent that they were able to move them in chunks from one corps to another.

The days of community units strongly backed by local supporters had vanished, thanks in no small part to the continuous recruiting wars of the early 1980s.

Until 1994, the Québec drum corps season featured very few contests before the late-August Provincial Championships. More worrisome was that most of the competing corps presented productions that remained   unfinished until Provincials.

In the 1970s, it had been common for corps to cancel their scheduled first appearance of the season when they had not been able to finish their show. In the early 1990s, it had become unthinkable for most Québec corps to present a full show until early August. Long gone were the days when the FAMQ could schedule a season featuring exciting competition every weekend throughout July and August.

This new functioning style was the root of the major upsets Québec corps quickly became famous for. At the 1988 Drum Corps East Championships, l’Insolite of St. Jérome placed second in class A, 10 points behind the Ventures of Kitchener-Waterloo, ONT. Less than one month later, at the DCI Class A Finals in Kansas City, l’Insolite edged its Ontario rival, undefeated up to that point, by a mere one tenth.

At a DCE contest held in Beverly, MA, on July 22, 1990, Académie Musicale was a full 12 points behind the Ventures. Three weeks later, at the DCI Open Class Prelims in Buffalo, Académie   defeated the Ventures by 1.5 points.

For a few years in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the main event of the Québec drum corps season was not even Provincials, but a major DCE show held by Académie Musicale in Sherbrooke in early July, which featured long line-ups of class A and open class contenders from the Northeastern states, Ontario and Québec.

The show, called “DCQ Challenge,” marked one of the only Québec appearances by the province’s top contenders. They would not return to the local scene until their DCI tours were over. Local fans were left with a few contests featuring short line-ups and unfinished productions.

Such a situation was the result of a major change in the very nature of drum corps in Québec, which had grown to rely on the efforts of individuals whose very concept of the activity had been formed through membership in corps such as Les Éclipses and Connexion-Québec.

This new vision focused on the process rather than the product. The Québec drum corps community had redefined the activity as an experience rather than a type of musical production at least 10 years before the DCI leadership followed suit in its attempt to achieve closer links with the marching band community.

Most striking was the level of commitment that would be required for youth participating in such units. Drum corps was no longer a year-round activity with weekly rehearsals throughout the year and a summer schedule focusing on local contests that would allow members to keep part-time jobs or pursue other interests.

For most, drum corps participation would start once the winter guard season was over and necessitate rehearsing 12 hours a day, seven days a week as soon as schools closed down for the summer break. This became the essence of drum corps in the eyes of these members.

Some would go as far as labeling such an approach as semi-professional. Others were dreaming of a future when corps members could be compensated financially. If major league sport players drew high salaries, why couldn’t major league drum corps members?

The roots of this key transformation were found in the amazing progress achieved by Les Éclipses in the course of the 1985 and 1986 seasons. I recall visiting a Les Éclipses camp in Quebec-City in late April 1985. About 45 brass and percussion players attended the camp.

The corps started its competitive season on June 8 with a corps of 33 horns, 18 drums and 25 guard, scoring 44.40 with an unfinished show. They recruited along the way throughout their two DCI tours, cracked the 80 mark at the July 27 DCE Championships, defeated eventual DCI finalist Star of Indiana once in August and nearly cracked the top 12 at DCI, finishing 14th.

In 1986, the corps started in an even worse shape, fielding 27 horns and scoring a dismal 37.70 at their first contest. By the end of the season, they had grown to 48 horns and actually had a better shot at cracking the top 12 than the previous year, with only a nervous counter-performance at semi-finals stopping them from achieving the objective they pursued so intently.

If such late-season miracles could be achieved, what would be the point of rehearsing all year and being competitive all season? The only way to achieve this type of unexpected success in such a spectacular manner, though, was to view drum corps as a full-time, summer-months endeavor.

Even though this recipe created the amazing class A, class A/60 or division II and III victories staged by corps like l’Insolite, Académie Musicale and Les Étoiles, such results could never be guaranteed. After making its huge splash on the 1990 DCI Championships, Académie Musicale had a definitely disappointing season in 1991. The corps had grown to be much larger, but could only achieve a sixth-place finish at the DCI Class A Finals, not enough to move to open class prelims. It took four years for the corps to fully recover from such a setback.

Six years later, the 1997 Les Étoiles could not even crack DCI Semi-finals despite presenting a larger corps tackling a much more complex and daring show than during its 1996 Cinderella season.

The worst outcome of the new Québec drum corps recipe nevertheless belongs to the 1989 senior Les Ambassadeurs of Quebec-City. The corps appeared at a contest in Lévis on August 9 with 11 brass and three drums, with no guard or drum major. They claimed to be building a corps that would make DCA Finals less than one month later. Les Ambassadeurs never appeared at the 1989 DCA Championships.

The corps had faced major recruiting challenges as a result of another extreme application of daredevil Québec drum corps operations. A former member recalls that the 1988 Les Ambassadeurs traveled to Allentown for the DCA Championships and rehearsed all day on the eve of their planned prelims appearance in a rural field adjacent to a school sitting in the middle of nowhere.

Members were then informed that no housing was available. The corps slept on the empty field, only to be awakened by a major rainstorm in the middle of the night, which later resulted in the contest being postponed by one day. Rain-soaked members elected not to wait an extra day and returned to Quebec-City without competing.

Another extreme application of the new Québec drum corps recipe was used by the 1995 Multi-Visions from Trois-Rivières. The sole provincial class A/60 entry did not travel outside Québec that season. They faced no actual competitor all season-long, but still rehearsed 12 hours a day, seven days a week, all summer.

Any activity requiring such high-level dedication could only develop a limited appeal among the youth of the province. Most Québec corps of the 1990s believed they had achieved major recruiting success when they could field 80 members. Only one corps, the 1995 Les Étoiles, fielded a unit with more than 100 members for the whole 1990s decade.

Interestingly, the second largest corps of the decade was the 1998 Stentors of Sherbrooke as they competed in Québec only with a 33-member brass line. This was the last season Stentors limited its competitive appearances within the borders of the province.

After starting to attend the DCI Championships annually in 1999, the corps underwent a continuous decline in its membership rosters that turned it into a division III unit only two years after it had fielded more than 85 members in 1998.

The record-high 1995 Les Étoiles rosters had resulted from a traumatic merger with the remnants of L’Insolite, a corps that continuously suffered from major operational challenges. The corps became one of the best examples of the high degree of instability that marked all aspects of the functioning of the remaining drum corps organizations in Québec.

After cracking the top 25 four years in a row, L’Insolite had to take a year off for financial reasons following the 1991 season.   The corps staged a comeback in 1993 and 1994, achieving solid division II finalist placements for both years, but went bankrupt and had to fold during the winter of 1995.

The whole corps’ membership and staff then moved to Les Étoiles, a corps that was actually experiencing a nice recovery after a long string of lean years. In the spring of 1995, the corps suddenly found itself bursting at the seams with 130 members. Staff members elected to continue the season with the more difficult L’Insolite show, which resulted in a few Les Étoiles members feeling pushed down by more talented members, while others felt totally pushed out.

Les Étoiles took the field with 116 members that season, experienced a traumatic bus crash along their tour and finished with a disappointing third place at division II finals, failing to achieve their objective of cracking the division I top-21.

At the July 8 DCE Division II Finals, Les Étoiles could not even claim the highly coveted bragging rights as the best corps from Québec, as they placed second to their archrival, Dimension of Lévis.

L’Insolite and Les Étoiles were not alone in continuously experiencing major organizational challenges. Académie Musicale folded its organization in 1999, faced with a debt mostly accumulated during it ambitious 1997 season when it had embarked on a fully-fledged DCI Division I tour. Third Regiment of St-Eustache folded its organization following the 1998 season, debt-laden after two participations at DCI Championships held in Orlando.

Between 1988 and 1994, the Québec junior drum corps scene often appeared to feature two separate drum corps movements, with l’Insolite and Académie Musicale keeping a healthy distance from the FAMQ’s efforts at reviving the sagging local scene.

Maintaining this lofty attitude led the two organizations to portray themselves as elite corps that members from other units should aspire to join. The two corps, both started in the early 1980s, built their organizations on key objectives that quickly made them stand out in the Québec drum corps crowd.

L’Insolite was formed in 1984 from the remnants of Les Jéromiennes, a majorettes unit, and rapidly set its eyes on becoming a top-12 contender. The corps’ management intended to build on a St. Jérome drum corps tradition that went back to La Quatrième Brigade in the early 1970s. L’Insolite won its first Provincial class C title in 1985 and grew a small clique of members to the DCI Class A giant killer of 1988.

L’Insolite then attracted experienced members from other units and gained staff members from Connexion-Québec, which had folded after the 1987 season. The corps’ horn line grew dramatically in quality when a good chunk of the membership of Transit of Sainte-Julie, which had actually been a fierce competitor for Québec Provincial honors until 1988, moved to l’Insolite.

Transit had been known for the stellar brass lines assembled by staff member Gilbert Lamothe, the key driver to forming the corps. By 1990, Lamothe had become L’Insolite’s director.

L’Insolite was nevertheless unable to attract most of the still eligible members from Connexion-Québec. Most pursued their top-12 dream by joining Dutch Boy from Kitchener-Waterloo, OMT, by then a credible top-12 contender.

Académie Musicale, formed in 1983, built a staff of professional musicians right from the start. The organization’s major focus was on achieving high-quality musical standards. They had been dismissed as an aberration in their inaugural drum corps season when they wore a red t-shirts over black pants as a uniform and played soft arrangements of “Pictures at an Exhibition.” The corps’ foundations in the achievement of high-quality musical standards quickly allowed the organization to grow into a major drum corps contender.

Académie Musicale won its first class C provincial championship in 1984 and quickly learned that its unique drum corps brand led to better competitive success outside of the province. The 1985 FAMQ summer featured a season-long fight for class A honors between Aventuriers of Charlesbourg and Les Étoiles d’Or de Laval, with Académie always playing poor cousin by placing three to five points behind the two leaders. At the 1985 DCE/World Open contest, Académie Musicale defeated both corps with convincing margins.

At a July 26, 1987 FAMQ contest held in Sainte-Julie, Académie Musicale finished six points behind l’Insolite. The following day, at the “Invitation-Québec Matinée Québécoise” contest judged by a DCI panel, Académie Musicale outdistanced l’Insolite with a seven-point victory. In 1994, Académie Musicale even elected not to participate at FAMQ-sponsored events, despite competing actively in DCE, ODCA and DCI events.

On the home front, the FAMQ continued to offer local competitive opportunities to the remaining drum and bugle corps. Organizations such as Sénateurs de l’Ancienne Lorette, Dimension of Lévis, Mousquetaires of La Baie, Étoiles de Dorion-Vaudreuil and l’Impact de Dolbeau were able to field competitive units every season. Other corps remained inconsistent.

Despite limited volunteer pools, the FAMQ attempted to make the drum corps activity more welcoming by creating new classes of competition. For a few years during the early 1990s, struggling organizations could compete in concert class, which allowed for presenting a good portion of the show at standstill. Younger units were even allowed to present short shows totally at a standstill.

In 1991, Aventuriers de Charlesbourg even attempted to make a comeback by fielding a marching band, a one-season venture that had very limited success.

In 1993, the FAMQ elected to make a drastic change to its judging sheets by inserting a guard caption that would be fully integrated to the overall score, a made-in-Québec innovation later copied by DCI. This allowed for making stronger links between drum corps and the healthy Québec winter guard scene.

Major efforts were therefore made to adapt drum corps to local and regional circumstances. The Québec drum corps scene nevertheless remained dominated by a senior corps, DCA finalist Les Métropolitains of Montréal, throughout the early 1990s.

The corps finished fourth at the 1994 DCA Finals, a feat achieved by having adult members rehearsing long hours during weekends, starting bright and early even on Sunday mornings that followed long traveling nights from contests in the United States. The corps folded the following fall as a result of recruiting difficulties.

The rebuilding period of the late 1980s and early 1990s definitely lasted longer than the drought of the early 1980s, but had resulted in the re-mergence of a healthy competitive local scene by 1994. New corps even appeared in regions that had not seen healthy organizations in two or three decades.

Chevaliers of Rivière-du-Loup was formed in a town that had not fielded a competitive drum and bugle corps since 1965. Multi-Visions of Trois-Rivières emerged in a region that had not seen a major competitive drum and bugle corps since the mid-1960s, when Les Majorettes of neighboring Shawinigan had become the first Québec unit to compete at the “World Open.”

The Quebec-City region was also able to gain its first major DCI Division II contender since the 1981 Aventuriers when the whole Sénateurs de l’Ancienne Lorette organization elected to join Dimension of Lévis.

The 1994 and 1995 Provincials both featured healthy line-ups of 16 corps. Québec units also took advantage of the geographic proximity of the DCI Championships held in Boston and Buffalo to test the new strengths of the provincial drum corps movement.

Four Québec corps competed at the 1994 DCI Division II Prelims, with l’Insolite positioning itself as a title contender and Dimension placing less than two points away from a finalist spot. This was the first time since the 1982 DCI Championships held in Montréal that so many Québec corps competed in the same category at a DCI Championships.

In 1995, Québec placed three corps in the combined DCI Division II and III Finals. Dimension cracked division II for the first time, while Les Étoiles made a credible claim for the division II title, placing third. The night nevertheless belonged to Académie Musicale, not only taking the 1995 DCI Division III title, but also defeating each and every division II finalist, including their two Provincial archrivals.

The Québec drum corps movement had clearly regained its health and vigor. It again offered a healthy regional scene that nurtured corps preferring to limit their competitive appearances within the province. Its top contenders had also re-emerged as major DCI Division II and III contenders.

For the first time since 1991, the province could even boast a DCI member corps, as Académie Musicale used its smashing division III victory as the springboard to a 19th-place finish at the 1995 DCI Division I Quarterfinals. The corps even elected to become a full-fledged touring DCI Division I corps for the 1996 season.

The three pillars of the Québec drum corps movement once again seemed to have reached an equilibrium that made the future look bright. It would not take too long before one pillar, an elitist vision, came back as the main focus to shatter the hardly-gained equilibrium.

The mid-1990s was also a difficult period for the North American drum corps activity as a whole. Small corps like the 1995 Académie Musicale and 1996 Les Étoiles were able to make huge splashes in division I, thanks    largely to the difficulties experienced by many former top-12 contenders such as the Troopers, Velvet Knights, Freelancers and Spirit of Atlanta, struggling just to stay in existence.

Interestingly, FAMQ Director-General Manon Giroux believes that the ebbs and flows of the Québec drum corps activity have always closely followed the fortunes of the North American activity. She states that “considering there may have been 400 drum and bugle corps in existence in the United States in the 1980s and around 40 in Québec, we have, in proportion, experienced a similar decline. We, unfortunately, have never had access to their large pools of human and financial resources.”

Such a situation allowed for the best Canadian corps to achieve remarkable DCI results, with Kiwanis Kavaliers, Académie Musicale and Les Étoiles actively pursuing the top-12 dream in 1996 and 1997. The two top Québec contenders would quickly demonstrate that their success was built on a house of cards. Despite major competitive successes, they had failed to build the type of solid foundations that would have been necessary for them to become consistent top-12 contenders.

Académie Musciale’s best-ever shot at claiming to be a top-12 corps happened on July 21, 1997 in Omaha, NE, when the cute little corps that had charmed everybody at the 1990 and 1995 DCI Division III Championships came less than three points away from DCI Finalist Carolina Crown. The corps fielded only 81 members, but consistently competed with top DCI corps in the brass, auxiliary and visual captions. At DCI semi-finals, the relatively small unit even defeated 11th-place Bluecoats in the GE Visual caption.

Had the corps been able to also field a decent percussion component, they could not only have become the first Québec corps to crack the top 12, but also the smallest DCI Finalist since 1972.

The best drummers in Québec were nevertheless marching with Les Étoiles that year. Both corps were furiously competing for the top drum corps talent available in Québec throughout the off-season, running buses that traveled the province to collect the best members from other units to their camps.

In 1997, a good chunk of the Académie Musicale membership was the remnants from the folded Multi-Visions organization. The 1998 Les Étoiles, despite fielding the smallest DCI Division I corps that year, were essentially a merger of Les Étoiles and Dimension, which had folded in the fall of 1996 after cracking the DCI Division II Finals for two years in a row.

Dimension had nurtured a nucleus of members for six years and grown them into a credible division II contender. The corps’ parent volunteers nevertheless got burned out by the growing workload inherent in continually increasing the unit’s competitive prospects.

Boasting two corps aggressively pursuing the top-12 dream created major pressures for the whole Québec drum corps movement. Until 1995, most Québec corps would not consider attending the DCI Championships unless it was held within reasonable travel distance. By the late 1990s, corps hoping to keep their best members felt forced to make the DCI Championships the culminating point of their competitive season. This unfortunately happened at a time when DCI held its title event in faraway Orlando, FL, three years in a row.

In 1997, both Les Sénateurs de Joliette and Third Regiment of St-Eustache elected to travel to Orlando for the DCI Championships. They both made division III finals, with Third Regiment even capturing the “Spirit of Disney” award as a result of a smart decision to play Disney music for the corps’ maiden DCI appearance in the company’s hometown.

The 1998 season even featured the return of one of the least appealing drum corps memories from the late 1970s. Third Regiment had just joined the club of organizations running buses to collect members to their camps and staged a very public fight for one unfortunate contra bass player, who had elected to switch to Les Étoiles in June. The FAMQ had never changed its old member-ownership rules.

Third Regiment had become quite ambitious after their spectacular fourth-place finish at the 1997 DCI Division III Finals, embarking on an expanded tour under the leadership of Denis Plouffe of Les Éclipses fame. The organization’s instability soon became obvious when the corps could not even crack division III finals in 1998, finishing a disheartening 10th place at DCI Prelims after having appeared to be a title contender in the early weeks of the season.

The corps even nearly lost the 1998 Provincial Division II title to Les Stentors, a corps that stayed in Québec all summer.

In a spectacular reversal of what was viewed for so long as an established truth in the Québec drum corps community, it became obvious that using a DCI tour to perfect a show started in June could not guarantee the elite status sought by aggressively competitive organizations.

Académie Musicale, a 1997 DCI Semi-finalist, became another very public casualty of the newly revived recruiting wars. The corps had to take a year off in 1998 after being unable to recruit enough members to field a credible division I corps, and could only come back in 1999 as a division III unit that placed 18th at DCI Prelims. Even though the 1998 Les Étoiles lost their major DCI provincial rival in 1998, they were not able to field a corps of more than 63 members.

It quickly became apparent that Quebec’s division I contenders had exhausted what they had believed should be a steady source of members. They had grown to rely on other organizations to nurture members who would just naturally grow eager to join them as elite organizations. They simply lost the ability to recruit new blood and grow their own young talent.

It should also have been painfully obvious that all corps in the province catered only to a limited pool of potential members, those willing to devote their entire summer to drum corps.

The Québec drum corps activity had also become nearly invisible as corps focused on full-time summer rehearsals and North American touring, as opposed to local competitive appearances or participation in community festivals. By the late 1990s, the pool had simply gone dry.

The ultimate decline started in 1998 and quickly grew exponentially. The number of competing corps at Provincials remained steady at 16 in both 1994 and 1995, but dropped to 15 in 1997, nine in 1998, seven in 1999 and four in 2000.

After the 1998 season, l’Impact de Dolbeau decided to switch its organization’s focus from drum corps competition to musical theatre. When Mélomanes of Trois-Rivières folded after the 2000 season, the Québec drum corps activity lost major geographic ground and became limited to the immediate Montréal region and the city of Sherbrooke, less than two hours away.

Starting in 1999, the remaining drum and bugle corps in Québec faced a new challenger for the province’s top talent. The Syracuse Brigadiers had grown wealthy as a result of successful bingo and started operating a bus that traveled to Montréal to bring interested members to their monthly camps.

The senior corps had close to 30 members from Québec, including many still of junior corps age, for each of its ensuing four consecutive DCA victories. The limited number of youth still aware of the existence of the drum corps activity apparently preferred belonging to an organization that did not require them to sacrifice their whole summer.

During the 1999 season, Les Étoiles participated in a full-blown DCI Division I tour with a corps of less than 60 members. Their tour quickly became very visible evidence that the Québec drum corps community was losing its alignment with its North American counterparts.

Many division I corps were regaining strength by making closer links to marching bands and reinforcing their internal operations. Les Étoiles compensated for their small size by building their all-original “Ice Storm” show around a set of scaffolding that could potentially create major damage when rolled onto the field. DCI even prevented the corps from using the scaffolding at the DCI Mid-America Focus Show in Murfreesboro, TN, for fear of damaging the stadium’s brand-new Astroturf.

Les Étoiles finished a heartbreaking 24th place at DCI Quarter-finals, behind both the division II and III champions, and lost their DCI membership.