Where did the Twirling Part Come From?
This is an immediate post about majorettes preceding the earlier one which sought to seek their origin. This post addresses the introduction and origin of the twirling practice of majorettes.
How did it start?
Mabel, a lady, was the first person to make history in drum major by introducing twirling. She began leading a drum in a parade as a substitute and did so as any other person would have done. But she tried to twirl the baton, an act which seemed to be liked and appreciated by the spectators. This made the band members she was leading to play better than usual.
You may be wondering where she got such a noble idea from. If we go back to history in 1893 at the World’s Colombian Exposition on Chicago, you will meet Hadji Cheriff. This performer was an interesting gun twirler. He twirls his rifle is a fantastic manner, just as majorette would twirl a baton today. His twirling involves both two-handed and one-handed twirls and movements that any modern majorette would identify with ease.
During the same era, it will also be noted in theaters that you could have seen performers twirling canes, parasols etc. Also there was a favorite hit track that mentioned about twirling a cane in its lyrics. These could have all led to the acceptability and growth of the twirling idea. You must admit that during these past periods when there were no movies or TV, theaters must have been favorite social joints hence would contribute and greatly influence twirling.
A twirling related article wrote and published in the early 1940s indicated that twirling was an ancient art which was shrouded by mysteries in the 1880s and 1890s.
We all love mysteries. As a matter of fact, they fascinate us. Therefore if we dig back into history in the 1800s and 1900s, we will find that girls already knew and practiced drill and gymnastics in teams and groups and that they used apparatus which are similar to today’s rhythmic gymnastics. The apparatus could be put into any kind of movement, and possibly could have also included twirls and any other movement that could be done with a baton.
All these ancient examples did contribute to the idea of twirling and formed the basis of modern art of baton twirling.
In September 1927 in a fair at Mansfield, Pennsylvania which featured performances by Johnnie Reilly also constitutes to the development of baton twirling. Johnnie was a popular drum major who was greatly advertised concerning the fair. In the advertisements, he was referred to as “The High-Throwing Baton Juggling King”. Advertising for the fair included a portrait of him leading a band. In one of the ‘drum major’ advertisements of a cigar band, a drum major is seen throwing a baton into the air.
You can also concur with me that there’s no much difference between juggling and twirling. Actually the two seem to be synonyms.
There also are some beliefs that flag twirling in Europe could have led to the origin of baton twirling. This is because early twirlers used to have flag twirling as part of their performance. Even in modern times, there are cases whereby some bands are accompanied by flag twirlers.
There’s also a suggestion that twirling originated from Africa and came into the United States of America by the practice of African-American parade leaders.
All in all, rifle twirlers and spinners had an hand in the development of twirling.
This can be evidenced in 1920s when Cossack rifle spinners were performing. During the performance, Fred Simcock was very impressed by the performance and especially the twirling bit and went on to train over 1000 drum majorettes at his Long Beach, California, which was a twirling school established in the 1930s.