Disqualified & Overqualified is a two-disc biographical and instructional DVD by three-time world champion baton twirler, Annetta Lucero.
Disqualified is the 90-minute biographical part of the package. It is essentially and interview with Annetta Lucero mixed in with extended, and no-so-extended footage, from training and competition throughout her career.
The impression of Annetta I had taken from the trailer for the DVD wasn't particularly favourable so my expectations of the biography weren't high. Watching the film, though, Annetta quickly grew on me. The account Annetta gives of her younger years spent training with her baton for hours and hours a-day is an interesting one. It is not a sad story of a lost childhood as Annetta clearly fell in love with baton twirling and had a huge appetite for success from an early age.
Her childhood, though, was certainly unusual, and one quite alien to the rest of us. The interview takes us through Annetta's various successes and disqualifications in national and international baton twirling competitions. All the while there seems to a creative urge in Annetta that is not allowed to express itself fully in the baton twirling world. This urge eventually leads to Annetta to a successful career in the circus.
By tracing the course of Annetta's career the film highlights some of the differences between a sport and an art, without ever explicitly pointing them out. In the circus and object manipulation realms many of the techniques and skills of baton twirling are being manifested in the form of staff manipulation. The circus culture places a larger value of creativity and expression than in sporting circles and this seems to have been what attracted Annetta to the circus. Whether the makers of the film intended this contrast between circus and sport, I'm not sure. But the implicit discussion of that contrast was the most fascinating and valuable thing I took away from Disqualified.
The footage used in Disqualified is generally of a fairly poor picture quality due to of some of it being 30 years old. However, this by no means diminishes the impressiveness of the routines and skills displayed in it. Annetta's level of skill is, I suspect, why most people will be interested in buying this DVD. As a staff-spinner myself, it was certainly the tutorial section that whet my appetite.
Overqualified is more specifically a baton twirling tutorial DVD than a staff spinning. It has been marketed towards the fire spinning audience though, and rightly so. It brings a new perspective to staff manipulation. Personally, some bits I would leave to the baton twirlers, but there is a lot staff spinners will find inspiring and educational. The section on body work, for example, explains different movements the performer can make whilst spinning or twirling a baton/staff. These movements (spins, pirouettes and moves like illusions) are rarely seen in the fire performance world and it would be great to see more of it. Others are definitely too "baton" for my staff spinner's mindset. Overqualified has something for every level and style of baton/staff spinning; beginner to world-class; fast spinning, throws and contact. It is, however a bit jumbled. Each section does vaguely start at the easier end and work up but not necessarily in steady increments. The staff spinning section for example (though why the moves contained therein are specifically staff moves, I don't know), starts off with very basic moves such as the thumb flip but quickly progresses to quite advanced doubles' moves like the double layout and a flat throw/long arm roll (a.k.a. angel roll) combo. If you're looking for contact staff tutorials, don't be surprised when you can't find any in the Contact Series section what you're looking for is under the heading of Rolls. The Rolls section is fantastic but don't panic when you see the beginner series it's not easy! This section has given me stuff to work on that will keep me going for months but it is not explained in much detail. A good understanding and ability in contact staff is necessary to get the most out of this section. The lite part of Rolls contains the best tutorials. Unlike the preceding parts, the lite section deals with individual moves and combos, not series (extended combinations/small routines), and are more fully described.
Like Annetta herself, Disqualified & Overqualified is an interesting and eccentric DVD. The production quality is good and the DVD is generally well put together. Disqualified is certainly worth a watch but it is the tutorials that most grab my attention. Some may find the lack of detailed explanation in the tutorials frustrating but Overqualified has a lot to offer. Any serious (or not-so-serious) staff or baton spinner will benefit from it. Annetta does make it all look very easy though. So to avoid being disheartened always remember the vast number of hours Annetta has spent practicing and that she is a multiple world title winner. That should put things back into perspective.
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