In defense of National University's Cheerdance victory
MANILA, Philippines - It’s easy to confuse Cheerleading with Cheerdance.
Both are variations of a highly technical sport. Cheerleading is gymnastics without the apparatus and props, routines run short, and the criteria is fixed and governed by international regulations. Cheerdance by definition is more malleable.
The earlier UAAP competitions in particular required heavy props usage, outlandish themes, longer minutes and gave huge importance to sponsors. It also put a premium on creativity, not technicality.
The UAAP CDC started as a Cheerdance competition. If you’re familiar with the “Nestle Non-stop Era” of 2000 – 2005 where gigantic ice creams and forced sponsored cheers were required, it can go from entertaining to embarrassing in one performance.
Costume, audience impact, and brand visibility were part of the criteria. I remember watching it as a kid thinking how much of a chore it must have been to choreograph for the brands, make it as palatable to the masses as possible, most likely sacrificing art in the process. Samsung’s turn in 2007 – 2013 sometimes had the teams dance to their jingle. It was a pain to see and it never really jelled with any of the themes.
Social media outrage
Things took a turn for the better in 2013 when it evolved into a cheerleading hybrid; unfortunately some fans publicly disagree with the results. We are all entitled to our own opinions, but I believe calling the reputable international judges “chefs” and talking about how Henry Sy influenced the decisions are low blows.
Hashtags like #SMAdvantage, sarcastic #congratsNU and #SMthreedaysale actually trended. Let me just say that the nonagenarian has resurrected the whole NU institution including its sports program from the ashes. He has nothing to gain from rigging a Cheerdance competition at all.
UAAP CDC 2013-2015 criteria are as follows; tumbling (100 Points), stunts (100 Points), tosses (100 Points), pyramids (100 points) and dance (400 points). This gives equal weight to Cheer and Dance elements. No Costume, Audience Impact and corporate sponsor to woo.
Onlookers jeer at the sight of a wobbly pyramid, forgetting that cheerdancers might possibly be injured on top of pre-existing injuries. It is a concern, so much so that a medical release form is a prerequisite to perform. Cheer, whether -dance or -leading is “buwis buhay”. They just make it look easy. They make it look so easy that people who have no idea what they’re talking about form harsh opinions about how they could have done better. I dare them to try.
NU scored highest in 4 out of 5 elements with their level 6 difficulty skills, except dance where UST scored 14 points higher. Joining UST and UP as the only group of schools with a 3-peat in UAAP CDC’s 21 year History.
They are the first school to be National Champions and UAAP Champions at the same time, twice (2013 and 2015). It is also worth mentioning that the Philippine Cheerleading team represented by NU Pep Squad ranks third in the Co-ed Elite and second in the All-girl Elite ICU World Cheerleading Championship 2015 rankings.
They earned the right to represent the country in Orlando, Florida by being the champion in our own National Cheerleading Championship where UST placed fourth followed by FEU at fifth place.
People becoming social media pundits, dismissing NU’s athleticism and discipline as a farce although hurtful makes sense to the general audience. They see routines differently from the highly qualified officials. Thesestudent athletes work so hard. Their training is not for the weak. Dancing alone is hard enough as it is. Add coordinated death-defying stunts, tosses, tumbling and group cohesion to the equation. There is so much that goes on before the 6-minute routine that is unknown. But they have only that short amount of time to prove themselves.
That is why it is difficult for Filipino viewers to completely understand the sport. So if the UAAP CDC will continue with its present criteria, whether it be held in Mall of Asia Arena, Araneta Coliseum or Mars, the technicians will emerge as champions. Let’s leave the judging to the judges and the low blows to street fights where they belong. – Rappler.com
The author was captain of her Cheerdance team from fourth grade to fourth year high school and briefly in college. Although a fan of UP & 2002 – 2006 UST, she believes NU’s emergence as a frontrunner is inevitable and may not lose steam any time soon.