Baton twirling has a long history in the United States, dating back to the 1930s. Originally a men's activity, it has come a long way and is today mostly done by girls. It combines elements of gymnastics and dance and advanced routines are extremely difficult. Well-executed beginner routines can be graceful and pleasing to watch. They are also a good workout.
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Baton twirling exhibitions generally take place either in parades or shows (like halftime shows). In parades, routines include marching, while shows incorporate more stationary routines. Parade routines that involve marching incorporate twirling tricks while marching. Stationary routines include more dance-inspired choreography. Marching is a separate skill and must be practised on its own, with and without twirling. Beginning marching routines can be very simple and if the marching is mastered, can make the routine look much more precise, even for beginners.
The type of baton routine will in part be determined by the music. Since baton twirling combines some dance techniques, music choice is important because it sets the rhythm and tone for the routine. Even very simple routines can be made much more interesting with the right music. Music can inspire a theme for a routine, which will in turn determine what types of movements will be incorporated.
There are certain basic elements to any routine, beginner or advanced. All routines, for example, begin with a salute. The salute is executed by holding the baton in the right hand with the baton against the left side of the body lengthwise. The right hand holds the baton about one-third of the way down from the head of the baton and the elbow points outward, while the left hand is either on the hip, or out to the side.
Beginning twirling consists of either vertical or horizontal patterns. Flat twirls and tosses are examples of horizontal tricks, but most twirling executes vertical maneuvers.The "figure 8" is a common trick found in beginning routines, as is the flat twirl -- sometimes known as the "pancake." Beginning routines should also include some very simple tosses, as they are impressive for spectators. A very important part of twirling is stage presence. A twirler should be having fun and it should be reflected in the smile and facial expressions.
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