For 22 of her 26 years on earth, Lashauna Marshall has been a fixture in the annual August Festival Parade. She exudes an undeniable passion for Festival that began from her exposure at a very early age. By 14, she was leading the National Majorette and Pompoms Festival Troupe, sponsored by the Department of Education and Culture.
“I used to manage, supervise and lead the National Majorettes and Pompoms Festival Troupe in 2004 when I was 14, then I went away to school in 2008,” she reflected. “While away to school, my best friend Tofficah Thompson died on my 20th birthday. When I returned, I decided to start the troupe in memory of her. When I worked with the troupe before going away to school, she assisted me a lot, especially with the pompoms aspect. She had a dynamic personality so that’s why I chose the name Dynamic Twirlers.”
Long before becoming its leader, Marshall participated in the National Majorettes and Pompoms Troupe as a four-year old in 1994 igniting her passion. After completing her BA in Human Resource Management from DeVry University, she earned a Masters Degree in Project Management and another Masters in Business Administration with a concentration in management, from Keller School of Management.
She brought out the Dynamic Twirlers in 2013. “I returned from college in 2012, but I wasn’t prepared to have the troupe that year,” she noted. “The number of participants varies between 14 and 25 girls and there’s no age limit. One year we had a three-year old in the group and the oldest was 25, but we also had some 20 year olds as well. I don’t set an age limit.”
Preparations for the August Festival begins in May, right after St. Thomas’ Carnival ends. From the beginning of May through the first half of June, the concentration is on the girls who don’t know how to spin the majorette’s baton.
“I prefer to teach persons how to spin from the beginning,” Marshall, an office manager at Quality Construction, explained. “After the middle of June, it’s teaching tricks and different routines.”
Practices, she says, are a time she looks forward to, as she always asks for her troupe’s assistance in creating the routines they will use in the parade. “I’m looking forward to see what moves they come up with and I’m also looking forward to festival to see the other troupes on parade day; I love to see their pretty costumes,” she added.
She uses Facebook for recruiting new members and also past members bring their daughters into the group. Another group comes after she starts her practices at the Elmore Stoutt High School Grounds when students see the practices and ask to join.
When asked “what is it like leading a Festival Troupe?” Marshall said, “it’s very stressful in terms of preparations.”
“It takes a lot of preparation and it’s me alone, I do everything – from designing uniforms, purchasing materials, plus I still do routines,” she pointed out. “I physically help them on parade day with their makeup, so it’s very time consuming. But, it’s also extremely fun. I have a lot of fun with these girls.”
The Dynamo Dynamic Twirlers
Uniform designs don’t take long, she said. She puts aside an afternoon for designing, then returns the next day to make alterations before taking it to the seamstress for discussion and any further alterations.
She noted that she uses the same seamstresses she did before going off to college, adding that she has a good relationship with them. “Last year for example, I made several designs so I can pick one for this year and make alterations.”
While she requests participants’ input on the parade day routines, she doesn’t solicit their ideas on the costume designs. Troupe members pay $40-$50 which includes membership and everything.
“They have no idea what the costumes look like until they are trying them on after they have been made,” she pointed out, noting that they get to try on the outfits a week before the parade. “I have been doing that since 2004. But, it’s fun for them because they literally try to burst their brain to find out what they’re wearing and it shows that they really trust that I’m going to put them in something decent,” she said with a chuckle. “I always tell them I’m doing to wear it too, so you know it’s going to look good. That’s why every parade day I’m in a costume and I’m leading them, because if I don’t wear it, how am I going to encourage them to wear it?
What really fuels her passion? “I personally like to spin and I like to see girls participating in age appropriate troupes,” she stated. “I know when I was younger, Siyeeda Brewley was like me. She used to do the troupe and she used to teach me. I know how much that has played a role in my life so, I want to pass on that same knowledge to other girls. Every parade day, she’s there by my side helping me get them ready and keeping my lines straight. She’s still there and I always tell the girls she used to be me,”
Marshall says she gets positive feedback from the girls’ parents and many people say, “girl, you’re still doing that?” or that, “I’m doing a good job.”
Outside of Festival, they participated in the Brewers Bay Christmas parade and the opening of the Tortola Pier Park. She said they try to participate in other events when the girls are available.
Most of their funding comes through the Department of Culture headed by (Luce Hodge Smith) and Metro Construction and Quality Construction which are family owned businesses, while MB’s Ice religiously provides ice and an ice cooler every year.
As always, Lashauna is excited about participating in this year’s August Festival Parade. “I’m really looking forward to see what happens this year,” she noted with pride.