BATON ROGUES

SUN DEVIL BAND DIRECTOR SPURNS TWIRLERS; HOPEFULS SAY THEY GOT THE SHAFT

McFarland had assumed that she worked the audience just fine last year during her stint with the marching band. "They loved me. I thought they did," she says, casting big eyes downward and shaking her head.

Now McFarland is planning to forgo the $50 student housing deposit she forked over to ASU, cast aside the $500 Sun Devil costume her mother sewed and quit her job in the dining hall of a nursing home (where she brightens dreary days for elderly residents with her sunny disposition and occasional twirling demonstrations). She's heading south, with the hope of twirling for the University of Arizona.

Stephens says she'll twirl for Glendale Community College. She can't afford to leave town.

And as for Hewitt, she intends to make peace with Fleming by next spring's auditions. Otherwise, she says, "I'm not even going to send the girls to try out. I'm not going to disappoint them."

Fleming couldn't care less. "I'll probably have a ton" of interested twirlers next year, he says. He receives one or two letters a week from out-of-town twirlers who are interested in performing with the Sun Devils.

"We have just always had extremely good luck in finding twirlers that were capable. And that will happen again," he says.

As for this year? Fleming maintains in draconian tones that his will be the final--indeed, the only--word on the subject. And frankly, he's not interested in talking about it further.

"This is something that we can either blow out of proportion or we can accept the fact that I run the band," he says. "Nowhere does it say that a band must have twirlers.

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