Color coordination: Rock stars and color guards team up

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These artists are changing the color guard.

A group of music stars organized by rock legend David Byrne will perform along with hundreds of flag-twirling color guard members in a pair of concerts on June 26 and 27 at Barclays Center. In addition to the former Talking Head, musicians in the project include Nelly Furtado, Money Mark and Ad Rock, How to Dress Well, and tUnE-yArDs, among others.

The seeds of the performance, called “Contemporary Color,” started in 2008 when a high school color guard team asked Byrne to lend a composition for one of its competitions. Byrne knew little about color guards, but he started researching and was impressed at the routines he discovered.

“I was stunned at what I was seeing,” he said. “And being a musician I naturally wondered to myself: what if these performances had really great live music? Wouldn’t that lift it to another level?”

Color guards, which evolved out of military maneuvers, incorporate dance and music with military props like rifles, sabers, and flags. They usually perform during football games at halftime or in marching band competitions.

For the concerts, Byrne reached out to his musical friends and teamed them up with ten color guard teams from around the country. During the show, each color guard team will spin, jump, and march through a routine created to match the musician’s live performance.

“Contemporary Color” is presented by the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and is its first production held at Barclays Center. The two organizations have long planned to collaborate, said BAM president Karen Brooks Hopkins, and this show offered the perfect opportunity because the staging is too large to fit in one of the Academy’s concert halls.

“This creates a space in New York to do all kinds of things we would never see because of the scale,” said Hopkins.

“Contemporary Color” at Barclays Center [620 Atlantic Ave. at Flatbush Avenue in Prospect Heights, (917) 618–6700,]. June 27 and 28 at 7:30 pm. $25–$135.

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her at
Posted 12:00 am, June 24, 2015
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