New ASU grad levels up baton twirling with digital theater tech

By Amber Victoria Singer
Published: Wednesday, May 17, 2023 - 1:51pm
Updated: Wednesday, May 17, 2023 - 4:26pm

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Graduation season is upon us — from preschool to Ph.Ds, lots of people are moving to the next chapter of their lives. In honor of that, The Show is turning the mic over to some of the most interesting grads in the Valley.

Cody Carter — or, as he calls himself, Cody the Twirler — graduated earlier this month with a degree in digital culture theater technology from Arizona State University's Barrett, the Honors College. 

But he’s known around campus for something else.

ASU baton twirler Cody Carter
Mark Quiñones
ASU baton twirler Cody Carter

My baton twirling journey started when I was seven years old … and it’s kind of a funny story, and an unconventional route, the way I started.

My parents are both golf instructors and they’d take me to the golf course, and instead of hitting golf balls, I started twirling my golf club … my mom immediately saw what I was doing and she knew what I needed. She found me a baton, she found me a coach, and then from there the rest is history …

I am a featured twirler with the Sun Devil Marching Band at ASU, so I get to perform at all of the football games and volleyball games and softball games. I do a lot of ASU athletic events and then from twirling at those events, a lot of other organizations around ASU and student groups have invited me to come perform at their events …

Some of the highlights of my college career and baton twirling — the biggest one that is the most recent was completing my honors thesis with the Barrett Honors College, and what I did for that was I took my passion for baton twirling and then I mixed it with my major of digital culture theater technology.

And the end result was basically having an LED baton with sensors on it that track real time movements of the baton, and then it goes through a computer that has a generative modular synthesis program, so the baton is making music live. And then in addition to that, the computer is also sending data to a lighting network and the baton is changing lighting design live, so the end result of that yearlong honors thesis project is I now have a baton that can interpret all the movements I’m doing and make music and change lighting live — and every sound you hear, every light you see changing is a result of my twirling.

Now that I just graduated, my goal is to keep twirling professionally, so what I’m thinking about is maybe twirling for the Cardinals or the Phoenix Suns with their in-game entertainment squads … Another big long term goal of mine is to twirl for Cirque de Soleil, one of their productions.

The funny thing is I had a lot of opportunities offered while I was in college, I was actually at an international circus competition last spring … and there was casting people from Cirque de Soleil, and there was cruise ships, and there was touring circuses, and I had some offers to do some things for the fall of this past year — and I kind of had to say, I have one more year of college, and I can’t take it right now … so that’s the thing I’m most excited about is now being able to take these opportunities that are being given to me and being able to capitalize on them now that I’ve graduated from ASU.

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