Lisa Anne Lindberg - home

My Life-Long Love of Baton Twirling

I have always loved baton twirling.
For nearly all my life -- for 53 years since I was 5 years old -- I have done this lovely art for the sheer, blissful, flowing enjoyment of it.

Pre-School Beginner ... High-School Band Majorette ... Guerilla Street Artist ... Concert Stage Performer ... 
... and my latest:  going past glitz-'n'-glamour to explore the possibilities of interpretive dance ...
                            Photographs ages 5, 15, & 52 -- 1957, 1968, & 2004
     Lisa, 1967, age 15           

Bottom row:  performing with Christine Lavin

Potomac Celtic Festival, Leesburg, Virginia

June 2007: with Wayne Jordan & friends
by Cindy Johnson
- click on photo for higher-resolution version -
June 14, 2009:  with the Scottish group, Cantrip
2009 June:  Potomac Celtic Festival -- band Cantrip
click on image to go to Youtube video

2006 & 2007 -- Baton-cloth dance

2006:  Hudson Highlands

May 2007:  with my little nieces - -  

August 2007: my mother's memorial service


Early Baton Twirling Years:  1957-1970

When I was 5 years old, for some reason I was drawn to baton twirling -- neither I nor my mother can remember exactly how it was that I happened to first see someone doing it.  But that year when I was 5, I got my first baton and started figuring out how to do it.  I remember being a 1st grader and the high school majorettes offered twirling lessons in the school gym.  

When I was a little older, I took twirling lessons at the dance studio where my sisters took ballet.  Even in my young years, I couldn't get my mind around the benefits of memorizing a routine for a recital. I told my teacher this, and so when recital-routine practice came around, all the other students worked on that while I instead kept on working on basic skills.  I loved twirling so much that sometimes I practiced 3 hours a day.

At age 15 & 16, I was on the high school majorette squad -- the 2nd year as head majorette.  The only part I can say now that I actually liked about doing this was the 2nd year when I could do improvisational solos for the half-time shows, and also duets with the drum major, a fine baton twirler.  He and I would throw our batons back and forth to each other, including when marching in parades.

In 1969 when I turned 17, I still had a year's worth of high school left, and could have again tried out to be on the squad. But by then, I had become a hippie and wanted to leave majorette-ing in the dust.  As I explained it to my friend Joy who was already in college: "I didn't need it anymore."  

But I still loved twirling, and continued to do it on my own for fun.


The Next 30+ Years -- 1970- 2003:  Primarily in my own living room

From 1970 and on, throughout my entire adult life, I continued to do twirling -- but primarily in the confines of my own living room.  Whenever I would have the feeling, "I have too much energy, I have to channel it somehow," I would get out my baton and twirl -- and feel much better.

When watching the 1984 Summer Olympics and feeling inspired by the athletes' athleticism, I realized baton twirling was my sport.  
When watching the 1984 Winter Olympics and feeling inspired by the artistry of skaters Torvill & Dean, I realized baton twirling was my art.


Summer 2003 -- Coming out of the baton closet at age 51: 
baton twirling as guerilla street art

In Summer 2003, I realized that my life-long love of baton twirling was more than just some kitchy left-over from my younger day.  Rather, that Summer of 2003 when I was 51 years old, I saw that it was something I could liberate :  I could take it to the streets as my street art, my circus act ...  (and even to the concert stage.)  

Since then, I have been taking a baton along with me nearly everywhere I go.  I have accumulated over a dozen batons in lengths of 20" to 28" -- including fire batons and also the tamer versions of fire -- those which fit glow-sticks into their ends.   I keep them in a quiv ver -- like arrows -- and when I get tired of sitting at my computer tapping away on my ideas, I sling my quiv ver over my shoulder, and go out into the streets to twirl and give impromptu lessons. 

I stop in front of shop windows and twirl to my reflection, finding that windows offer varieties of experiences -- depending on the clarity of the reflection in the glass; the objects in the window display; the baton moves I am doing; the activities further inside the store; and reflection of people's activities and objects in the street behind me. When I get enough of one place, I leave and go on down the street to find another spot.   

Places I have done guerilla baton twirling include the Maryland sites of Brunswick, Frederick, Sugarloaf Country; Washington, DC; Asheville, North Carolina; Shepherdstown, West Virginia; Charlottesville, Virginia.; Columbus, Ohio; Lawrence, Kansas; Oklahoma small towns; New York; San Francisco; and Fairfield, Iowa.  This last town was with long-time buddy Doug Mackey with whom I have been twirling for decades.  On a trip to Fairfield in April 2004, he and I grabbed every possible 15-30 minute opportunity to meet downtown during lunch hours to twirl together in front of shop fronts, one time while wearing Mardi Gras masks.  I even incorporated baton twirling into a drama I wrote, Reviving Shallot, which I staged and performed in, in the San Francisco Bay area.

I have discovered people of all ages to be fascinated by baton twirling, and that it is an effortless way to meet people.  Many people approach me to tell me they did twirling when younger, and when I hand them a baton, they once again get a  kick out of taking one out for a spin.  I also give short beginner-lessons to those who ask -- from 5-yr olds to 75-yr-olds.  Drummers ask for moves they can apply with their drumsticks.   I tell them all they can continue on their own with batons from Starline Baton Company.  As a teenager, I had students with whom I enjoyed giving regular lessons, and in my current impromptu street-lessons, I am once again finding it fulfilling to impart this art.  

I also enjoy twirling to the accompaniment of live music -- both discreetly in the back of an audience, and also right in the thick of audience members spontaneously dancing along to a band's musical performance.  I have done this at folk festivals in Washington DC, Shepherdstown, West Virginia, San Francisco; at a private outdoor jazz concert in DC; an East Indian Gandharva Veda concert; with the wacky marching band,
Los Trancos Woods Community Marching Band (see below for pictures); and along with street musicians in San Francisco.  Doing baton twirling to live music is fun -- people take pictures of me, and other performing artists invite me to join them in, e.g., a druid-music band, and also teachers of circus arts.  

In cities like Francisco and Washington DC, when people have asked me for money in the street, I instead ask them if they would like a brief twirling performance.  They always take me up on my offers, they watch appreciatively, and we are both enriched by the recognition of our shared humanity.


Shepherdstown, West Virginia
March 2004, age 52



Fire Twirling with My Sister Kari at Our Sister Nora's Farm in Virginia
(scary but fun)
Duncan's 56th Birthday Party, May 28, 2004



5th Annual Country Roads Folk Festival -- at the historic Almost Heaven Farm,
 in the Kearneysville & Shepherdstown area, West Virginia
September 4, 2004

2-Hour Baton Twirling Lark with Christine Lavin, singer-songwriter-comedienne -- AND BATON TWIRLER ! !

"Identical Cousins" Lisa and Christine -- both born in January 1952 -- now reunited and doing baton twirling together

Giving Impromptu Lessons to Festival-Goers


Marching off to crash the stage of the band Coyote Run

Twirling beside Coyote Run's stage

The end of our stage-crashing, and our triumphant return march

  (this one by Chuck Morse)                                                             

Pictures of us twirling together at the Country Roads Folk Festival made it into the Festival photo galleries -- one from our baton twirling lessons, and also the photo on this page of mine, last row, above, of Christine and me marching in front of Coyote Run's stage.  

After Christine's set at the festival's close (she was the headlining act), she invited me to do baton twirling with her in her shows.  I accepted, and so far we have performed together in two of her September 2004 shows in the San Francisco Bay area:  
- Freight & Salvage Coffee House -- a veritable Berkeley's community landmark since 1968
- Kuumbwa Jazz Club in Santa Cruz ... 

My New Exploration in Baton Work :  Going past "glitz 'n glamour" and exploring variations in mood and dynamics, including slow-motion

t Christine Lavin's concert at the Birchmere, Washington, DC area, October 9, 2004 :  
doing interpretive dance/baton-twirling to the song, "Those Were The Days My Friend"

During Christine Lavin's October 2004 Birchmere show in the Washington, DC area, when all of the performers had finished the main set, we all went back stage after the applause.  When Christine and the two other musicians were returning to the stage to do the encore they had prepared, I hung back in the wings; we hadn't talked about what I would do during this, so I didn't know what to do.  Then Christine called out to me, "Come on, Lisa -- twirl to us!"  So I got to do something new:  my baton became my dance partner, and as they played the song, "Those Were The Days My Friend," I followed as my baton led me along in responding to the dynamics of the song -- sometimes slow and plaintively introspective, sometimes fast and jubilant.  

Doing this interpretive dance/twirling performance opened up inside of myself a new avenue of artistic exploration of movement and expression.  I will see where it goes.......


Gravity Lounge
, Charlottesville, Virginia  -- photos sometime soon.


Twirling in Manhattan's Central Park, anyone?

In warm weather, Christine and I would like to take our batons to Central Park in Manhattan some afternoon, set up shop for a while, trade some more twirls, give some more lessons, and maybe find some more twirlers and form an impromptu squad.


58th Annual Los Altos, California Pet Parade, May 14, 2005
2-baton twirling with Los Trancos Woods Community Marching Band
A band formed in 1960 in which the people dress wacky, walk rather than march in columns or rows, 
alternate instrumentals and singing.  And are really good musicians.



4th of July, 2005 
Hudson Highlands,New York


2006 & 2007 -- Baton-cloth dance

Hudson Highlands, July 2006

Our entrance -- with my little nieces, 
Kanalee Farm, Virginia,
May 2007 

"Taking Wing," 
for my mother's memorial service, 
Asheville, August 2007


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