Photo by McGwire Ishikawa
This summer from Aug. 6 to 11, MHS alumnus Akoni Pasoquen-Castillo and alumna Alina Kalani participated in Drum Corps International (DCI) World Championships in Indianapolis, Ind. Pasoquen-Castillo placed sixth in World Class with The Cavaliers and Kalani placed ninth in World Class with the Blue Knights. Individuals are selected to be in competing corps through auditions, each corp having their own audition process and technical requirements. DCI is a non-profit organization that brings together all of the high leveled marching bands to compete.
“I think that’s a very big accomplishment for them primarily, but (I’m) very proud to see students that come from Mililani to perform in groups like that and to perform at such a high level,” said Concert Band and Marching Band Director Derek Ka‘apana.
Just like at MHS, participants had to go through intense training and difficulties not only physically but mentally as well. “The Cavaliers, like any other corp, practices everyday. During the first month and a half, we stayed at Adrian, Mich. at Adrian College. We did our technique training and also learn(ed) our entire show. A typical day would have three four hour blocks with meal breaks in between and repeat until we head onto tour to perform around the country,” said Pasoquen-Castillo. “One challenge that I faced leading up to DCI championships was self-confidence. This activity encourages people to push out of their comfort zones to help them grow as performers.”
Pasoquen-Castillo and Kalani had gained prior experience through their time in marching band under the direction of Ka‘apana. “I feel like that’s our job as a high school program anyways — is to really instill in students a sense of pride in what they’re doing but also having them understand that basic techniques and fundamentals are important to becoming better,” said Ka‘apana. “So I was able to see them at (DCI) Championships and watch their rehearsals and get to support them as well so it made me feel really good and I’m happy that they’re taking what they learned in high school, further.” Pasoquen-Castillo added, “They helped by teaching me and giving me as much knowledge in the activity as they can, even till this day they are still teaching me more about the activity. Kpan (Ka‘apana) and Susan (Segawa) also go to DCI championships every year to support us, so it is very nice to see their faces after three months of being away from home.”
Both Pasoquen-Castillo and Kalani took what they learned from Ka‘apana and applied it to their training and preparation. “So both Alina and Akoni were part of our program for four years and they went through a very rigorous program in the fall semester and spring semester, every year of their four years of technique and training and doing different shows so that kind of helped prepare them a little bit,” said Ka‘apana. Kalani added, “Performing a show like it means something, is something Mr. Ka‘apana really taught me in high school. All our shows had emotion in them and he always told us that we had the eyes of fire and heart of gold and we weren’t just marching and spinning on a field but we had something more to give.”
During preparation for DCI, Blue Knight’s head designer and drill writer quit at the beginning of the year. “Writing a show takes a year for a drum corps and what we did was make a show on the road for the entirety of the summer. Hence the writing and rewriting and restaging and learning new work every other day of the summer,” said Kalani. “But how we as a drum corp and as world class performers handled our show and delivered it to the judges and audience as best as we could showed our talents and strive to be great.”
The Cavaliers placed with a score of 93.213 and an average of 93.146 over the past three years; they won fifth in Color Guard, seventh in Visual Analysis and Brass and placed sixth in all other captions. “This was my first time doing drum corp and to be able to perform in finals and in front of that crowd was a mind-blowing experience. Of course, the placement does not matter entirely, it shows all the hard work that we have done during the summer. The blood, sweat, and tears that we all endured has paid off once you hit the final set and the final count of the show for the last time,” said Pasoquen-Castillo. “Mr. Ka‘apana or Kpan and Susan Segawa helped me prepare for DCI as a student when I first joined their program when I was a freshman. I joined as a replacement and after that fell in love with the marching band program.”
Blue Knights placed with a score of 88.925 and an average of 88.558 over the past three years; they won eighth in Percussion, ninth in the other two Music captions and General Effect, tenth in Visual Proficiency and Color Guard, and 11th in Visual Analysis. “We have our backs and we love each other. And by the end of the season I can say I have family all over the mainland, wherever I decide to go I have people there who I can call if I need something,” said Kalani.
After his first year of drum corps, Pasoquen-Castillo plans to continue in DCI, while this was Kalani’s fifth and last year.