Twyrl Type Archives
WHAT IS TWIRLING UNLIMITED?
As more and more twirlers “discover” Twirling Unlimited and TU competitions expand to other areas of the country, more people ask “What IS Twirling Unlimited?” Twirling Unlimited is NOT just “another organization”. It is a consortium of twirling teaches and judges who are united in their efforts to promote baton twirling. It has long been recognized by those attempting to promote public acceptance of baton twirling that one of the things hindering us is the splintering within the ranks of baton twirlers themselves. In other words—we are our own worst enemy! Members of each specific twirling organization find it hard to “cross-over” to participate in another organization’s events. Sometimes it is the difference in performance rules, sometimes it is the lack of welcome, and sometimes participation is even specifically restricted to “members only”. The sad thing is that much of this “exclusionary” attitude originated from long-ago political differences between a few individuals.
Recognizing this atmosphere of distrust, Twirling Unlimited was formed over 30 years ago to try to provide “neutral ground” for twirlers to meet and participate without fear of being considered an “outsider”. With no specific ties to any of the major twirling organizations, TU attempts to serve as an “umbrella” - providing events where all twirlers are welcome—regardless of organizational affiliation. Hence our motto: “Where Twirlers Meet”.
This philosophy is the driving force behind most of the decisions that govern TU. Our penalties are minimal and are limited to those recognized by all major organizations. Time limits are broad enough to incorporate all organizations’ requirements. Participation is open to any interested twirler, regardless of organizational affiliation and there is no membership fee required. Judges certified by all major organizations are used to adjudicate TU events. The result has been an unprecedented “sharing” and intermingling of twirlers and teachers from all organizations. The most common compliment we receive at TU competitions is how much people enjoyed the event because of the friendly atmosphere. Our competitions regularly have twirlers who are members of NBTA, USTA, WTA, DMA and many other smaller organizations. They appreciate the opportunity to perform their routines as they are normally accustomed, and have the benefit of different judges and new competitors.
There are positive signs of change in the twirling world. In recent years, we have seen some new events offered that attempt to provide competitions open to all contestants, not one specific organization. Many of these have focused on the elite and collegiate levels of competition, but it is gratifying to see their acceptance and success. Some states are doing an excellent job of encouraging mutual support of different organizations’ competitions (Colorado and Michigan come to mind). By contrast, we are disappointed when we see continuing evidence of the “old school” view, as represented by a recent phone call to our headquarters. A twirler who had entered a TU competition called to withdraw her entry as she had been told she “wasn’t allowed to twirl with anyone else”. This narrow-minded type of thinking will continue to hinder the expansion of twirling and ultimately the growth of public interest in baton twirling.
Twirling Unlimited will continue to foster a spirit of friendly competition, encourage the development of twirling, and welcome twirlers from all organizations to come together. We hope you’ll join us!
Ed’s Note (2019): This article was written over 10 years ago. There has been some progress in relaxing the divisiveness between twirling organizations, which is reflected in more twirlers branching out, although opposition remains. TU continues to welcome new participants at almost every competition.
The philosophy of Twirling Unlimited has always been to bring twirlers from ALL organizations together for friendly competition—and to promote baton twirling. To this end—our rules encompass the rules of all organizations, and our time limits are broad enough so that twirlers can perform their routines as they do in their own organization, without having to make changes. The only exception to this is the restrictions Twirling Unlimited places on the tricks performed in the developmental levels of twirling (Levels 1-4 or “Special Beginner” through “Intermediate”).
In some cases, it seems that teachers and twirlers have lost perspective when it comes to the purpose of the developmental levels of competition. Originally, there were NO levels of competition. All twirlers of a certain age competed against each other! As participation in twirling competitions grew, gradually various levels were added, so that there are now commonly 5 different levels of “progression”. These are designed to make new twirlers comfortable—and to give all twirlers a chance to have some success as they gain experience and progress step-by-step to higher levels of competition. However—we sometimes forget that the levels are designed for just that: progression. They were NOT designed for twirlers to remain at a level long enough to achieve a state or national “win” at each level before moving on.
Because some twirlers “hold back” until they win what they consider a “big” title, we sometimes find twirlers labeled “Beginner” (or Novice or Intermediate) who are doing tricks that most certainly do not reflect a “Beginner” (or Novice or Intermediate) status. Some twirlers and teachers seem to have lost the perspective that these are levels to gain experience (not titles) and that pride in achievement should come with improvement and progression to higher levels, more than first place trophies at developmental levels. It is sad to see that most feel more pride in an Intermediate “state” win than in achieving the level of an Advanced competitor and placing in the top 5 of her state competition.
To maintain the integrity of the developmental levels of twirling, TU has the following restrictions:
Level 1 (Special Beginner), No more than a 1 turn and no more than 2 consecutive elbow rolls.
Level 2 (Novice): No more than a 2 turn and no more than 4 continuous elbows.
Level 3 (Beginner ): No more than a 3 turn and no more than 6 continuous elbows
Level 4 (Intermediate): No more than a 4 turn and no more than 8 continuous elbows.
Obviously there are many things that contribute to a twirler’s expertise and these restrictions only limit a few tricks, but it is a start at recognizing the purpose of the developmental levels of twirling. As twirlers gain expertise, they should be encouraged to move on to higher levels of competition to challenge themselves, and the achievement of moving up to a higher level of competition should be celebrated as much as (if not more than) a “first place” win.
Twirlers are a part of a team!