The mission of Ascend Performing Arts is to further the education and growth of young people through participation in high-caliber performing arts programs that promote teamwork and discipline, develop leadership skills, and enhance self-esteem.
Vanishing extracurricular activities become an increasing reality in our schools today. Ascend Performing Arts programs provide a much needed outlet for those interested in music and dance performance.
Ascend Performing Arts provides the opportunity to experience music performance at its highest level and has developed into a multi-faceted youth performing arts organization each year, since its inception in 1958 as a drum and bugle corps. Performing arts programs, educational outreach, multiple performance events, and groups developed to entertain all speak to an organization that has evolved through time, meeting the needs of the Blue Knights and the community it serves.
In 2009, the Board of Directors of the Blue Knights Drum and Bugle Corps began the process of reorganizing to create a framework which would more accurately express the scope and impact of the Blue Knights Drum and Bugle Corps, better positioning the organization for future growth and funding. In 2010, after a thorough re-branding process, the Board of Directors announced Ascend Performing Arts as the name of their umbrella organization. Currently Ascend offers two dynamic performance programs, two premier competitive events in 2 states, a high school band competition, and educational hands-on clinics. Members and participants expand their level of technical skills while becoming more proficient performers. Members in the Broncos Stampede, Broncos Brass, and Ascend Entertainment perform for the enjoyment of their audiences, whether at a Broncos game or at an all-expense paid International trip.
Ascend Performing Arts uses its unique programs, educational outreach, events, and its entertainment groups to completely teach youth to develop independence, responsibility, leadership and teamwork by influencing and nurturing the skills needed to become responsible contributing members of their communities.
Testimonial from a 2017 Blue Knights Volunteer:
James Bolender,Associate Professor
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
University of San Diego
I have volunteered with our high school and with another drum and bugle corps. To me, this was the best and most efficiently run organization to work with. As a driver, I truly appreciated the fact that the convoy stayed together as we drove from one site to another. The drivers worked together and communicated at all times to make the drive as easy as possible for everyone. I truly appreciated this team work!
The Administration Team was the hardest working bunch of tour administrators that I have seen during my family's 7 year history with various drum corps. Kudos to them all!
I would like to close this with a big thank you on my part. In her age out year, Emily found her perfect corps. She has had nothing but praise for all aspects of Blue Knights, ranging from the food to the staff to the expectations of the members. Her experience was the absolute best way for her to spend her age out year. I am so happy for her. Thank you for providing this amazingly positive way for Emily to end her Drum Corps International career. "i" is going to be one of those shows that I am still watching years from now. To me, it is what modern drum corps should be.
Testimonial from an Alumnus:
Blue Knights Alum, Ryan Kehn, had the challenge of being in the director's chair for the production of Super Bowl 51.
Ryan marched in 2002, 2004, 2005 in the horn line and aged out as a Drum Major. He graduated from Monarch High School in Louisville, CO and graduated from Colorado State University in 2008, with a Bachelor's in Music and a concentration in Computer-Mediated Communication.
Ryan is currently the Creative Director for VWSE Productions, a live-sports event production company.
Ryan gave the following testimonial about his experience:
"The Blue Knights are, unequivocally, the reason why I am where I am today. I grew so much as a member of the corps and was constantly pushed to grow. After I aged out, I was left with a huge void and wasn't sure how to fill it. I struggled with depression that year and was frustrated in school pursuing a degree that I didn't want as a career, but didn't know what else to do. I had tried to stay involved with the corps but was overwhelmed with my struggles in school and sort of fell off the map. One day, out of the blue, I got a call from Rosalie Danskin, Ascend's Office Manager. She was simply calling to check-in, was worried that they hadn't heard from me, and told me I should come to the next camp. So I did."
That visit changed the course of my life. Mark Arnold, Executive Director, and I talked. He signed me up to go back on tour to create video content for the website. Long story short…that led to building some graphics for the Video Board at Mile High Stadium for Drums Along the Rockies last year, which led to an internship with the Broncos, and eventually a full-time position with them, and now I get to be a part of some of the largest sporting events in the world!!
The company I work for specializes in producing live shows for in-venue video displays (Jumbotrons) for sporting events around the world and one of our marquis gigs for the past 30 years has been the Super Bowl. Think of it this way, when you go to a game, everything on the big screens is us. It's just like a TV show, without as many talking heads.
My first Super Bowl with the company was XLVIII (48) in New York. I've been a part of the Super Bowl/NFL team for the past 4 years, producing events for everything from kickoff concerts, to games in London, the Hall of Fame and of course the big one in February. Our team restructured a bit this past year and I was honored to be given the privilege of playing the role of director for the first time at that event.
I can't think of many things better to prepare someone for a role like this other than Drum Corps. In many respects, it's no different from stepping onto the field in front of 20,000 people, all eyes on you. It comes down to sticking to what you know. Prepare diligently. Know your show. March/Call your show. Follow the charts/script and do what you know how to do. Don't be a hero…heroes miss the release.
The night before a big show, I sit in my hotel room and with my script, make my notes and run through it in my head, chunk-by-chunk. If I can't give my cues to myself in the mirror, I don't feel confident giving them through a headset when the lights go on and everyone's paying attention.
My advice to a potential member: Do it, and put your whole heart into it. This activity gives back to you what you put into. My rookie year I was a shy, stubborn introvert who was afraid of change and just wanted to go home and be with his girlfriend, and undoubtedly I missed out on a lot of the experience. It wasn't until taking a year off that I realized how much I enjoyed most of it actually, but I let the struggles define my experience, and retreated into a shell.
Drum Corps will push you, bend you, sometimes may even break you, but if you keep your head up and fight back when it gets tough, rely on the team/friends/family around you and approach it with the mentality that you're going win that day, then you will, and you'll walk away with an experience that's impossible to replicate anywhere else."