Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps 2021 Tour Updates

Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps 2021 Tour

Blue Knights Tour Map

Friday, July 30, 2021
Corps Encore
Ogden, UT

1 of 9

Saturday, July 31, 2021
Cheyenne, WY

2 of 9

Sunday, August 1, 2021
Drums Along the Rockies
Denver, CO

3 of 9

Tuesday, August 3, 2021
Amarillo, TX

4 of 9

Wednesday, August 4, 2021
Round Rock, TX

5 of 9

Friday, August 6, 2021
Mesquite, TX

6 of 9

Sunday, August 8, 2021
Little Rock, AR

7 of 9

Tuesday, August 10, 2021
Cape Girardeau, MO

8 of 9

August 12-14, 2021
Indianapolis, IN

9 of 9

2021 Tour

Corps Encore: Friday July 30, 2021 – Ogden, UT
Saturday July 31, 2021 – Cheyenne, WY
Drums Along the Rockies: Sunday August 1, 2021 – Denver, CO
Tuesday August 3, 2021 – Amarillo, TX
Wednesday August 4, 2021 – Round Rock, TX
Friday August 6, 2021 – Mesquite, TX
Sunday August 8, 2021 – Little Rock, AR
Tuesday August 10, 2021 – Cape Girardeau, MO
Thursday August 12, 2021 — Saturday August 14, 2021 – Indianapolis, IN

The Blue Knights Drum and Bugle Corps is currently making plans for the summer of 2021. As we continue this planning process, our number one priority is to provide a safe, productive, and memorable experience for all our members, staff and volunteers.

The Blue Knights seek to begin in-person training on July 1, and after a period of rehearsal and local performances, the corps will be joining other corps for a series of shows in the intermountain region, Texas, and into Indianapolis for the DCI August event series.

Our tour and activities will be guided by the recommendations of the CDC and the DCI Tour Reopening Task Force regarding member safety throughout the summer.

“Ultimately we must assure a safe environment guided by the advice and direction of the professionals who have been helping us through this process” states Ascend Performing Arts CEO Mark Arnold. “We are committed to providing the incredible, life changing experience Drum Corps brings to our members. Never has this been more important.”

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BKDBC 2021 Season and TOur FAQ

What is the status of Ascend and the Blue Knights ensembles?

In light of all that has happened since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ascend has drastically cut back expenses and the hours and salaries of staff to survive the financial effects of the pandemic. Despite the cancellation of shows, tour fees, and other sources of revenues, alumni and supporters of the ensembles have supported and continue to support Ascend, reinforcing our goal to make sure that when it is safe to perform again, that we will be here, ready to assemble and showcase the best young adult performers in our marching ensembles. When it’s time and it’s safe, we want to be able to get off of Zoom and make sure that, in person, we make, feel, and live the music that is distinctly the Blue Knights.

What are the plans for the 2021 Season?

The Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps is one of many world class drum corps currently making plans to march and perform during the summer of 2021.


We are cautiously optimistic, given that vaccinations are being administered at an accelerated pace across the country. Within DCI, research is being conducted by a team of experts (including epidemiologists, doctors, nutritionists, and individuals with years of drum corps logistical expertise) on the DCI Tour Reopening Task Force to provide guidelines and recommendations for drum corps to safely tour this summer. If we continue on a positive track with vaccinations and the ability to create a bubble around the corps as we travel, the Blue Knights are working toward plans to perform this summer throughout the intermountain region, Texas, and culminating in performance events in Indianapolis in August.

What will the 2021 season be like?

This season will be an especially memorable and meaningful experience for everyone – members as well as audiences. The design team has developed a show concept which will have a very uniquely Blue Knights voice. Prospective members who have received callbacks and contracts can expect to start working on show music over our three BKX educational camps throughout the spring.


Based on current information, we plan to begin intensely working with members during the last weeks of June while they prepare to move in by quarantining at home and doing online preparation. If all goes as planned, we will gather in Colorado in July to begin in-person rehearsals for three weeks before heading on tour. Possible show destinations include the Mountain West, Texas, and Indianapolis.

Our current plans involve a modified moving bubble approach which includes (at minimum) the following guidelines


NOTE: The below list IS NOT a detailed, comprehensive plan, but a series of guidelines as we continue to expand our tour safety protocols


  1. Members and staff must quarantine for a mandatory period before moving in, as per CDC travel guidelines.
  2. Members will be available for intensive online training during the quarantine period prior to arrival.
  3. Before arriving in Denver, members and staff must provide evidence of a negative COVID PCR test administered within 72 hours of arrival. If a member or staff member were to test positive before moving in, they must extend their quarantine period as per CDC guidelines before being permitted to join the corps.
  4. Members and staff will be tested regularly.
  5. Protocols are being developed surrounding incidents involving individuals within the bubble that test positive for COVID from the time of move-ins to the end of tour.
  6. Accommodations will be bubble-centric to minimize infection risk.
  7. Blue Knights will provide masks for members, volunteers, and staff who will be required to wear them at all times.
  8. In order to maintain the effectiveness of the safety of a moving bubble, members will not be allowed to visit with friends or family members attending shows.
  9. At show sites, members and staff will maintain safe distances from other corps, with no exceptions.
  10. Blue Knights will hire additional administrative staff as COVID Safety Officers to help ensure everyone is following the necessary protocols.
  11. It cannot be overstated that our level of responsibility to each other to keep each other safe will need to be extreme and everyone’s priority. We must have an absolute commitment to the rules regarding safety for one another.
How do I audition for the Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps?

See for more details, and to join.


Prospective members will be able to audition for the 2021 Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps by registering for the BKXperience. After purchasing a BKX package, it is expected that prospective members will prepare for their audition by doing the following:

  • Read through the Dot Book.
  • Watch the recordings of our two section-specific masterclasses.
  • Sign up for, and attend an included virtual individual session with one of our staff members.
  • Watch the recording of our leadership and personal development session.

These materials include the information needed to prepare for a successful audition, and contain the definitions of the audition assignments.


Once prospective members have recorded their auditions, they will be able to submit them within their personal BKX portal. After submitting, our staff will carefully craft personalized feedback, and grant each individual one of three statuses. Individuals will either be offered a contract, a callback, or will not be offered a spot in the 2021 corps. All individuals will receive constructive and specific feedback, regardless of their status.


All prospective members who are offered a callback will be invited to further virtual camps, alongside contracted members. In order to fulfill a callback audition for reconsideration for a full spot in the corps, these individuals will be asked to record another audition of the same content, using the personalized feedback they received in their first audition.

What are tuition costs?

Due to the myriad unknowns going into an unprecedented summer there are still many financial questions left to answer, however, we can already say that tuition will not be greater than tuition was in 2020.


We are hoping to find a way to reduce the cost of tuition as low as possible. While performances and fundraising only typically pay for about 50 percent of the costs of taking the drum corps on tour, we anticipate those funds could be greatly diminished, if even available, due to any number of restrictions we might see over the summer.

When are first tuition payments due?

First payments of tuition will not be due until late March when we have a better idea of tour expenses including additional accommodations expenses to ensure member safety. Any spring training camp fees will contribute to 2021 tuition.

What happens to my tuition if the 2021 season were to be cancelled?

Tuition paid, beginning in March, will be kept in a separate account and will not be spent until there is an assurance that the tour is moving forward—this enables Ascend to refund tuition, if necessary.

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Ken Adams


Mark Arnold is one of the longest-serving Directors in Drum Corps International, serving as Executive Director of the Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps since 1985 and as CEO of Ascend Performing Arts since 2010.

Under his leadership the Blue Knights organization has developed into one of the premier Drum and Bugle Corps in the history of the activity, recognized Internationally for excellence and innovation in the performing arts. Through the years the Blue Knights has expanded its programing and now serves thousands of young musicians and performers annually in multiple performing ensembles, events and educational programs under the umbrella of the Ascend Performing Arts.

In addition to shaping the course of Ascend Performing Arts, Mark also has played an integral role in the ongoing development and successes of Drum Corps International as a collective. He served as chairman of the DCI Board of Directors in 1994 and again from 2008 to 2013. Mark was honored as Corps Director of the Year in 2004, and was the inaugural recipient of the George Bonfiglio Chairman’s Award at the 2012 DCI World Championships, which is given to an individual each year who demonstrates extraordinary leadership and service on behalf of DCI and its performing drum corps.  Mark was inducted into the DCI Hall of Fame in 2014 and the Blue Knights Hall of Fame in 2019.

Prior to his position with the Blue Knights, Mark was the Assistant Director of the Troopers Drum and Bugle Corps from 1978 through 1983, serving alongside Director Jim Jones, one of the founders of Drum Corps International and an inaugural member of the DCI Hall of Fame.  Mr. Arnold has a degree in Music Education from the University of Wyoming and taught High School Music in Wyoming and Nebraska from 1979 through 1985.
Mark Arnold


Scott Factor has served on the Ascend Performing Arts Board from 2012 to 2018 as a voting member in various positions including Vice-Chairman. Since 2019 my role has been in an Advisory position.

Outside of Ascend Performing Arts i am Senior Account Executive for Baxter HealthCare.
Scott Factor


I am currently an Ascend Board Member-at-Large.  I have been a volunteer with the Blue Knights since 2013.  I have been serving on the BoD since 2019.  I retired from the United States Postal Service in 2010.  Although I have never marched drum corps I am an avid fan of the activity and thoroughly support our members in any way that I can.  “We Go On”!!! 

Neil Corvino


Board member Kathy Black is an attorney in New Mexico practicing as a full-time litigator focused on employment and civil rights defense. She came to the law as a second career after twenty-five years in high tech with NCR Corporation, doing everything from operating systems programming to Vice President positions in engineering, customer services, and sales. She earned her JD from Lewis & Clark Law School and her BA from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Ms. Black is active as a percussionist in the Albuquerque area. Way back in 1978 she marched with the Guardsmen, including at DCI Finals in Denver.  After many years of being just a drum corps fan, she was elected to the Drum Corps International Board of Directors in January 2016 and served on that board until January 2022, including three years as chair. 

Kathy Black


Bryant’s path to the Ascend Board of Directors, which began in 2021 as a member-at-large, traces back to his childhood. Watching the Reading Buccaneers senior drum corps practice near his grandparents’ home ignited a lifelong passion, and a student of all thing’s percussion.

Years later a family move to Colorado provided Bryant with a platform to display his passion, both on the stage with the nationally acclaimed Green Earth Percussion Ensemble and on the field as a snare drummer with the Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps until his age-out year in 1984.

In his professional career as the Senior Director of Strategic Accounts at Yokohama Tire Co., Bryant credits the principles instilled by the marching arts and years on tour for his success. On a personal level, the arts played an even larger role, where Bryant met his wife, Stephanie. The Rankin’s currently make their home in South Carolina, enjoying time with their grown children, two incredible grandchildren, and their beloved brown lab, Zoey.
Bryant Rankin


Retired, Director, Office of Research and Analysis, Colorado Department of Revenue Ms. Archibeque served 26 years in the area of statistical analysis for the Colorado Department of Revenue and Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. Her skills in this area assist the board in developing a strategy for statistical analysis in the area of program evaluation. She has also been a significant volunteer managing and working with volunteers for the organization and will assist the board in understanding the complex nature of the organization. Her personal experiences as a minority and female can inform and promote a more inclusive environment and agenda for the projects that the board supports.

Janet Archibeque


Rob Batchelder was appointed to the Ascend Performing Arts Board of Directors in May 2023, and currently serves as Vice Chair. As a member of the Senior Foreign Service, Rob has represented the United States overseas in India, Poland, Germany, Argentina, Nicaragua, Jamaica, and Namibia during a diplomatic career spanning nearly 30 years. He currently serves as Managing Director for Visa Services in the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs in Washington, DC. Rob marched in the Blue Knights hornline in 1987 and 1988, and he was Drum Major in 1989. He and his family live in Alexandria, Virginia, but his heart still yearns for Colorado.

Rob Batchelder