,we are going historical with exploring the roots of hip hop styles. We are delighted to have written this article with
one of the Allstar Hip Hop coaches at Sparks Allstars in London, who is a professional Hip Hop teacher – her work having being recently performed at Buckingham Palace for the Queen and is an active participant in the London competitive house-ballroom scene. You can also find her front row at Studio 68, having been a featured dancer multiple times for their afrobeat and kudoro classes and she also covers street classes on occasion at Pineapple Dance Studios.
Street Dance Culture
Kimberley: To appreciate Street Dance culture (umbrella term for the various styles within that genre) is to know, understand and respect the people who went through the struggles that brought us these styles that we know and love today.
These dances are all created as forms of expression and needing another outlet other than violence. As the dances have progressed over the years due to media narrative and teaching classes the history and the message may get lost.
To understand some of the historical context you can either talk to the remaining pioneers of these various styles. Appropriation in this particular culture is happening because of lack of knowledge, understanding and respect for the pioneers.
Kim: Within the ballroom scene it is always best to acknowledge and pay respect to the leaders of Vogue. Within the scene everyone either comes from either a house (which was named after designers e.g. lanvin, mugler, etc) or is an individual known as ‘007’.
When learning to Vogue you have to learn and understand the ‘Five’ elements along with terminology ‘, Catwalk, Hand performance, Duck walk, Dip(not death drop) & Floor’.
Before Madonna’s “Vogue”, Voguing was coined by the black and latin LGBTQ community in Harlem, having grown out of the Harlem Resistance between 1920-1935. Dance battles known as Balls which came into popularity in the 1960s birthed many styles, vogueing being among them. The point of vogueing was to demonstrate how gender was a performance, by putting on makeup, styling hair and clothing – later the style evolved into the “New Way” which incorporated more movement, such as cat walking, hence the tendency these days to describe vogueing as a “catwalk” but the original point of it being a gender exploratory style is missed. It was traditionally but not exclusively performed by performers in drag. Some sources still claim Voguing is an 1980s dance move, this is a false result of Madonna bringing it into mainstream consciousness in the 1980s.
While one person cannot be held responsible for coining vogueing, here are a couple of influential people in the Harlem Resistance.
Angelina Weld Grimké: Angelina was just one of the many pioneers of the Harlem Resistance. Born in 1880 in Massachusetts, USA, her father was a successful lawyer – the second ever African American to graduate from Harvard. He was also one of three sons of an enslaved African American woman and a white slave owner. Angelina was a talented writer, poet, journalist and teacher in her own right. Angelina outwardly identified as homosexual – it is clear in her written works. As a writer, she was one of the leading personalities of the Harlem Resistance. She died in 1958.
Richard Bruce Nugent: Richard was an openly homosexual artist born in Washington in 1906. He was primarily a painter and writer. There are records of him dance touring the country in drag, so he is presumably one of the pioneers of vogueing. He appeared in shows such as Run, Little Chillun (1933). He was certainly one of the founders of the Harlem Cultural Council in 1967, where he served as chair until 1967. He died in 1986.
Kim: Twerking is a cultural dance of celebration which is done amongst afro-caribbean culture. It has been hypersexualised to portray a different narrative based on what it looks like however Twerking is very rich in culture as different tribes in Africa perform it differently and have a variety of meanings within said tribes/regions. Chanelle Hall a.k.a Twerkology Nation does a variety of seminars and educational workshops to really educate people on Twerking from history to the development of Twerking in modern day society.
When Miley Cyrus “twerked” on Robin Thicke during a performance in 2013, the style exploded worldwide. There is some debate over the origins of twerking, but the consensus is it is an old style, as far back as 1820. It is largely attributed to the Mapouka tribe in Côte d’Ivoire. The Oxford English Dictionary has the description “sexually suggestive dancing characterised by rapid, repeated hip thrusts and shaking of the buttocks”. In many West African communities, however, the style has been noted for years as more a celebration of happiness, often performed at weddings or even in church. The sexualisation of the style is a result of celebrities such as Cyrus and Taylor Swift exhibiting the dance without context.
Breakdancing (B Boy/B girling)
Kim’s: DJ Kool Herc is one of the first DJs to present, promote and pioneer break beats which was samples from funk music from artists’ like James Brown. One of the most famous crews for innovation/pioneering of the movement was Rock Steady Crew. There are five elements of hip hop that also need to be understood in order to understand and appreciate the movement and the culture. They are: Graffiti, MCing, Break dancing, Djing and Beatboxing. This style was created out of needing a non violent way of expressing frustration due to political and social situations at that current time.
Breakdancing was invented in NYC by the Afro-American and Latino American youth community in the 70s and 80s. It is called break as the dance was created to the rhythms of the backbeat DJs use between tracks. There is evidence of individual moves, such as the headspins performed by an “Arab” artist in the 1800s, but as a style it evolved in inner city NYC in 70s-80s. It was popularised by Michael Jacksons famous walk, the Moonwalk. Breakdancing, one step ahead of cheerleading, is hopefully about to premiere as an Olympic sport. The key element of breakdancing is the feeling of “release”. Uprock is a style of breakdancing which is essentially fighting, the style revolves around mimicking weaponary to the music. The aim was to undermine your opponent, and if successful they got “burned” (figuratively, not literally!). This style was evolved by NYC gang culture in the 1960s onwards.
DJ Kool Herc: Born Clive Campbell in 1955 in Jamaica, he later moved to New York City. He started creating breaking beats because his sister needed to raise money for her school clothes. With his beat work and “breaking” style, along with his trademark voiceovers and MC’ing, he became increasingly popular, and he is credited for designing the “blueprint” of hip hop music. In 1984 he appeared in a Hollywood movie, as himself. He didn’t release his first vinyl record until May 2019!
Kim: Waacking like many of these other styles are created as a form of expression of being proud of who you are as well as another form of release for dealing with social and political issues during that particular era. Although the style looks fun just like others it’s about knowing and understanding the history behind it in order to appreciate it.
Waacking is a disco style that originated from LGBTQ clubs in Los Angeles in the 70s. The original dancers had many die during the AIDS epidemic of the 80s which led to a decline of knowledge about the style. It was shown on popular TV show Soul Train in the 90s. It had a revival in the last couple of years owing to social media. The key message of Waacking is that of an expression of confidence and pride in being LGBTQ.
Tyrone Proctor: Tyrone is one of the key pioneers of Waacking. After graduating high school in the 1970s, Tyrone made a beeline for LA where he joined Soul Train. He impressed and was put on the tour right away. As a group, Soul Train introduced Waacking to America. He went on to form the company The Outrageous Waack Dancers and is a co-founder of The Imperial House of Waacking. He was nominated for best choreographer at the MTV awards in 1989. He sadly died earlier this year.
Suggestions of ways you can respect the original culture when choreographing hip hop.
Music choice. By picking an appropriate era and genre or spirit, for example if break dancing, a track by a New York artist in the 70s/80s. Don’t twerk to a song that promotes the idea of it being sexual, instead focus on the idea of celebration.
Research the moves, reach out to the founders or living experts to improve your execution and technique if possible.
3. Outfit choice. Choosing an outfit to honour all the styles showcased in one routine in Allstar is not possible. However, if you’re doing a themed hip hop, make sure it’s appropriate.
4. Educate your team about why this style is the way it is, teach them about the founders and contribute to giving them the credit they deserve.
5. When adding moves “in the style of” think would it be out of place – for example in uprock, it’s battle style, so adding in moves to connote playing music or more pedestrian examples… Cool as it might look, it is not honouring the origins of the style.
We hope this is a small introduction to some hip hop styles and their historical relevance. We love learning so if you have more to add to the conversation feel free to message us @cheerfromheadtotoeuk. With that, we at CFHTT would like to close off Black History Month.
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Happy October – between local lockdowns, tiered lockdowns and circuit break lockdowns, spooky season if definitely upon us.
In this month’s
I wanted to talk about emotional resilience, and the huge part it plays in dealing with our emotions. So, what is emotional resilience? You know when you’re an infant, and people say it’s good to play outside in the mud, to build up your immune system? They want you to be in school and pick up the sickness bugs from a young age, because apparently this will build your tolerance and you won’t catch a bigger bug later on in life. Now I have no scientific evidence to back that up, but that’s what we say, isn’t it? Those experiences are said to build up our immune system’s resilience. Do you see where I’m going yet? Emotional resilience is similar. However, it’s not so much WHAT we experience, but HOW we experience, and how we deal with that experience.
Emotional resilience is a protective factor for things like low mood and depression
. So it’s a skill well worth having! What’s different about the example I gave earlier, is that when it comes to emotional resilience, the more trauma you experience doesn’t necessarily mean you will have more emotional resilience. It’s how you deal with that trauma. Let’s use the example of a romantic relationship breakdown – in layman’s terms: you’ve been dumped.
Example 1, Alex’s break-up:
Alex gets dumped by someone they believe to be the one, the love of their life, their soulmate. Alex is so upset and can’t stop crying. The days turn into weeks and everything they see or do reminds them of their ex, so Alex begins to withdraw from friends, family, and usual hobbies. Alex believes nothing will ever be the same, and that they will never be as happy as they were with their ex. Alex blames themself for the breakup and all they can think about is pointing out their flaws. Alex doesn’t ever want to feel this way again, so anyone that comes close, Alex pushes them away to avoid what they believe to be the inevitable.
Example 2, Sam’s break-up:
Sam gets dumped by someone they thought could have been the one. Sam is upset and takes the time to feel those emotions and cry it out. It’s difficult for the first few weeks, but as tough as it is Sam makes plans with friends and family to distract themself. Sam knows that they may be a little distracted at training, but it’s the best thing for them to keep busy. Things may not be rosy right now, but life goes on and Sam starts to feel a little happier again. Sam still feels sad about the relationship every now and again, but they appreciate the relationship for what it was, and know that better things are coming.
Who shows more emotional resilience?
Don’t get me wrong, I have absolutely been an Alex before, on more than one occasion, you can’t get it right every time. Put it this way, if you act like Alex after every break-up, 2-3 partners down the line you’re going to feel really bad about yourself and your self-esteem will be really low. If you’re more optimistic and act like Sam, your wellbeing will be in a much better place. Optimism isn’t about being positive 100% of the time. Optimism is recognising and accepting that both positive AND negative situations are a part of life.
Think of it like jumping. You can do a toe touch 100 times and it can still resemble a star jump. If you want hyperextended toe touches, you have to look at it differently, you have to tweak your technique. We know that practise doesn’t make perfect, practise makes permanent. In order to get perfect (which doesn’t exist by the way), you have to alter your technique or your thought processes in order to benefit.
And this is something really relevant to the climate we’re living in. Covid sucks, lockdown is awful, social distancing is boring. The coronavirus restrictions are ruining everyone’s plans. Nobody wants this to happen, nobody benefits here (unless you bought shares in anti-bacterial hand gel just before this all hit). In times like this it’s easy to focus on the things we can no longer do, I can’t stunt, I can’t hug my niece, I can’t dance the night away in a club or catch a show in a theatre. With all that being said, I can still eat my favourite foods, I can still speak to my favourite people, albeit online, and how pretty are the colours of the leaves right now? I can think all of those things, the good and the bad, and still be optimistic.
The key to optimism in difficult situations is having something to look forward to. Make sure to pencil in an activity every so often, it doesn’t have to be huge. One of our biggest assets as humans is that we can adapt. Can’t see family? We can videocall. Can’t go to the cinema/theatre? Movie night at home. Can’t stunt? Work jumps, tumbles, flexibility, strength and conditioning. Walks in nature, baking, home-cooked meals, dancing, laughing, the list goes on.
The key takeaway of this article is that life comes with both good and bad experiences. Whilst sometimes we can’t control the negative experiences that come our way, we can control how we respond and adapt. Our outlook on the situation is the key to strengthening those resiliency skills. As I mentioned earlier, emotional resiliency is a protective factor against a life of shame and low mood. And to avoid feeling like you’re constantly living on that hamster wheel, remember to schedule in those little activities that you can look forward to each week.
To help you practise emotional resilience, here’s October’s mindfulness exercise of the month:
As always, this may not be the exercise that works for you. Everyone is different, but I would always recommend giving it a go during a time when you’re feeling relatively neutral to begin with, so you can get used to it. Then give it another go when you begin feeling overwhelmed. If it helps, fantastic! If it doesn’t help, you can move onto a different exercise.
To start, get yourself into a comfortable position. Perhaps sitting or laying down. Close your eyes or rest them by relaxing and focusing on a spot in the room.
Visualise yourself beside a gently flowing stream with leaves flowing along the surface. Notice the colours, the sounds, the breeze perhaps.
Take a few minutes to notice each thought that comes into your mind, and place that thought on a leaf. Let the leaf float down the stream. Whether the thought is pleasurable, painful, or perfectly neutral, place them each on a leaf and watch them float by.
If your thoughts stop, peacefully continue watching the stream until new ones enter your mind.
Allow the stream to flow at its own place. Don’t let the speed of your thoughts alter the speed of the stream. You’re not trying to rush your thoughts away, you’re allowing them to happen, to come and go at their own pace.
If your mind begins to think “this is silly”, “I’m bored” or “I’m not doing this right”, place those thoughts on a leaf too, and watch them float by.
If a leaf gets stuck, let it hang around until its able to pass on by. If the same thought pops up again, watch it float by another time.
If a difficult or painful feeling arises, simply acknowledge it. Say to yourself “I recognise myself have a feeling of frustration/boredom/hurt”. Once again, place that thought on a leaf and allow it to pass by.
From time to time, your thoughts may distract you from being fully present in the exercise. This is normal. As soon as you notice that happening, bring your attention back to the stream and to the exercise.
Continue doing this exercise until your mind feels a little more at ease, and you feel able to go on with your day.
If your team or yourself have done something amazing you need to nominate them for #CFHTTFridayaward
As always, we’d love for you to be involved in ourUpside-down-time feature. If you’re reading this on a mobile device, screenshot the article and tag us on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. If you want to be featured next month, post a photo or video of yourself upside-down (e.g. handstands), tagging #upsidedowntime and #CFHTT.
Lastly, we want to hear your NOMINATIONs for someone who has gone above and beyond for their team, charity, etc. This can be yourself, teammates, coaches or cheer-parents! Message us with any nominations you have!
Ta’ra for now!
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Cheerleading is my passion. This sport brings me so much joy. The beauty of this sport is there is a place for everyone, everyone is needed, for the team to be a success. In this industry, people do things that they may not be aware are culturally insensitive. In so many aspects of our industry, there is not a true reflection of all the people that live and breathe this sport. For this sport to be the best it can be, we need to learn to see the value in diversity. We need to understand the importance of having an open and sometimes awkward conversation about the lack of diversity and how we can move forward in making this much-needed change. I, encourage you all to watch this video and take the time to acknowledge without judgement or guilt as to what the people in this video are saying and take the necessary steps to make sure all members of our community feel heard, respected and valued.
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Please find below the latest statement from SportCheer England
New laws and guidance for social distancing (and how it affects Cheerleading), following the UK government announcement on the 22nd September 2020.
Since the 22nd September announcement by the UK government, SportCheer England have been seeking further clarification from Sport England regarding how the various sport and exercise exemptions apply to Cheerleading in England. We have spoken at length with Sport England regarding our classification as a sport, and also whether they can assist us in requesting the DCMS progress the assessment of our RTP Guidance Document (which if approved would provide further exemptions) While Cheerleading has not undergone Sport England’s formal recognition process, we are still considered by them to be a sport, and therefore subsequently been advised that Cheerleading should follow the government guidelines and legal framework as it pertains to sport. Therefore, the following currently apply to indoor sport without an approved RTP Guidance Document (01/10/2020)Under 18’s can continue socially distanced as they were under the previous guidelines. We advise clubs refer to the SportCheer England RTP Guidance Document for assistance on how to assess your space for social distancing and ensuring your gym is Covid safe. https://sportcheerengland.org/…/SportCheer-England…
If you are currently only delivering conditioning activities or All Star Dance classes, where athletes move no more throughout a class than a regular exercise class would (such as aerobics), and social distancing can be maintained throughout, then adult (over 18) classes can continue under the exercise class guidance provided by the government https://www.gov.uk/…/coronavirus-covid-19-meeting-with…
Adults (over 18) can still participate in indoor sport (anything more than the activity as defined above, such as synchro tumbling or rotating to use equipment) in groups of 6. Adults in the groups of 6 must continue to remain socially distanced from each other within their group. See “Can close-contact and combat sports return?” for more information.
https://www.sportengland.org/…/frequently-asked… Coaches and officials are exempt from the group numbers but must continue to instruct socially distanced.If your space is large enough that groups of 6 can remain effectively socially distanced from other groups (including entering and exiting the building), then we have been advised you may have multiple groups of 6 in the space. For details on organising adult groups please see the Sport England FAQ’s under the heading “Are governing bodies required to have their return to play guidance reviewed to cover indoor sport for six or fewer adults?”
We have asked Sport England for more clarity on mixed teams, and understand they are working to potentially add more information Disabled adults are exempt from the new Rule of 6 while participating in sports, but non-disabled adults participating with them are not. Therefore, Adaptive Abilities and Special Athlete teams where non-disabled athletes and disabled athletes participate together, the socially distanced rule of 6 must be applied. We are currently seeking further clarification from Sport England on this with regards to the rules for disabled athletes under 18, and also whether either age group are allowed to operate in mixed (disabled / non disabled athlete class) within the exercise class model. https://www.sportengland.org/…/frequently-asked…
RTP Guidance Document updateSince our public statement on the 9th September letting coaches know we had been told to expect an update from the DCMS soon, we have frustratingly heard nothing further. We appreciate this situation is extremely stressful for coaches and have been regularly calling and emailing throughout this period with both the DCMS and Sport England to try and understand the cause of the delay. We continue to work on your behalf to resolve the situation, but until such time,
The end of September is here. Quick, someone wake upGreen Day!
Sorry, that was so cheesy, but I would have kicked myself for not using that opportunity. Ok, moving on…
“September’s article is going to be a slightly different one to normal. If you are a victim or survivor of abuse, this article may be triggering to you, however we will explore the correct way of reporting such incidents, and some organisations that may be able to support you in dealing with the impact of such incidents.“
Initially my inspiration for this post was Athlete A, the Netflix documentary (if you’re aged 13 or under, make sure to have parental guidance if you choose to watch it). It’s a documentary that explores the hidden abuse within the USA Gymnastics organisation. Now I know this is a cheerleading blog, but I’m also aware that many cheerleading athletes were once gymnasts (myself included). And I also know gymnastics isn’t the only sport with its faults.
With that being said, over the course of the past week, another Netflix docuseries has come under fire due to a certain cast member’s criminal activity. This article is a little more serious than I typically like to write, but I feel it’s really important to share this information, and inform as many people as I can on your rights when experiencing child protection issues, and how to prevent them from happening to anyone else. Hopefully then, it doesn’t get to the stage where enquires are held due to the negligence of an entire Governing Body, as has happened in USA Gymnastics and British Gymnastics.
We’re still talking about feeling upside down, but this time some of the reasons that may trigger us feeling upside down, and how we can go about informing the correct people and getting the right support.
We’re cheerleaders. We take the time out of our busy schedules to put our hearts and souls, and hard-earned cash, towards achieving our goals in training and competitions. We create friendships, bonds and incredible memories during these times. We participate in cheerleading because we enjoy it, we love it, and can’t live without it. We have the right to feel safe in that environment.
Here in the UK, our coaches, choreographers and other professionals within our programmes should be DBS checked(previously CRB). A DBS essentially checks whether the person is suitable to work with children and vulnerable adults based on their previous criminal convictions. If you have been chargedor convicted of a crime relating to child protection, it will flag up on your DBS and you should not be allowed to work in a position of trust with children, young people or vulnerable adults.
I work in child protection in the UK, so I know the laws, regulations and process of reporting here in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. I can’t speak on behalf of the laws and regulations within America, as to be honest I’m quite confused as to how certain individuals are still allowed to be in positions of trust across the pond, but I digress!
Competitive sport is tough, there’s no two ways about it, it’s not for everyone. I have had tough coaches, and I’m very grateful for how they were able to push me to be the best possible athlete. However, there is a HUGEdifference between a“tough love” approach, and abuse. This is what I want everyone to understand. Tough love is where the coach has your best interests in mind, mentally and physically.
Abuse is where the perpetrator has their own agenda and does not care for their victim’s mental or physical wellbeing.
The 4 most common types of abuse include physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse and neglect. Bullying is also a form of abuse, and we are now seeing an increasing amount of online abuse. If you wish, you can find out more information about each type of abuse here:
Abuse can happen to anyone at any time. The most important thing to remember is that it is not your fault, they were in the wrong, and you will be believed. As I mentioned earlier, you have the right to feel safe at the cheer gym, at competitions, at school, college, home, the internet, etc. The biggest step is telling somebody. Sometimes this can be extremely difficult. It’s an incredibly brave thing to do to tell somebody so give yourself credit for that. Remember that by telling someone, you’re starting the ball rolling to ensure this person will not abuse you or anyone else again.
First things first, who do you tell? If you’re an All Star cheerleader and the abuse is happening at your programme, tell your parent/carerand/or yourprogrammes child protection officer (sometimes called welfare or safeguarding). Each programme should have someone with this role, but if you’re a small gym, your head coach may be the person to tell. Every gym has their own policies and procedures, so I can’t say for sure what will happen next. Most likely you’ll be invited to a meeting to talk about what has happened. Your programme should also inform Sport Cheer England/Wales/Scotland and statutory agencies if necessary.
If you cheer at school, college, or university and have an issue with your cheerleading coach, you should tell your teacher or Student’s Union. A similar process to the above will also happen.
If you don’t feel like the appropriate action has been taken, take a look at Sport Cheer England’s safeguarding page and consider having a chat with them:
Alternatively, you can call the NSPCC Helpline, for free, to discuss what’s happened and talk through your options. You can call up anonymously if you prefer, and the practitioners will let you know whether it’s something that needs to be reported, and to who. Sometimes they may be able to report it on your behalf. Their details will feature towards the end of this article.
In terms of online safety and sending images, check out Childline’s webpage which offers some fantastic advice and information:
When someone we thought so highly of is alleged to have committed a crime such as child abuse, it’s understandable to feel conflicted. Let me ask you, have you ever met someone before and for an unknown reason you instantly disliked them? Maybe it was the way they looked at you, or something they were wearing, you just dismissed them instantly. After a while of getting to know them, you realise you completely misjudged this person and you’re now best friends. This can work both ways. We know that what we see online, on social media and in reality shows is not the full picture. Remember that.
When people are feeling conflicted about a perpetrator of child abuse, I often hear the same phrases, “but what about their reputation”, “it’ll ruin their career”, “they have a family”, “but they’re such a loving person”. Of course, everyone has their good and bad features, but my response is simple, they ruined their own reputation the minute they broke the law and hurt someone.
I hope throughout this article you have learned something about what to do if you or someone you know is or has been abused. If in doubt, contact the NSPCC Helpline to talk through your concerns, whether they are currently ongoing or happened in the past.
As promised, here are a number of relevant organisations that have a wealth of knowledge relating to child abuse and abuse of power.
You can contact the Helpline to talk through your concerns, ask for advice and to report incidents of abuse.
The National Association for People Abused in Childhood. An amazing organisation with a wealth of information on their website relating to reporting non-recent abuse, and they also have a support line.
Call: 0808 801 0331
A 24/7 free text service for all ages, for when you’re struggling to cope
The UK have a growing number of talented dance freelancers that work to improve teams of all levels to reach their full potential and grow the sport nationwide. Freelancers are so important in Allstar Dance because they are experts at nailing the scoresheet, know exercises and drills to get those skills you want your athletes to have and their stories and knowledge can inspire and motivate athletes. COVID-19has meant they have become even more creative than ever to keep us going. I spoke to four of the most successful and inspirational Allstar dance freelancers about what they can do, what their favourite memories are from coaching all over the UK and beyond, and how they work with teams to improve and maximise their scoresheet and how they have and will be dealing with COVID-19.
One is from south west England, one south east, one from northern England and one from Scotland.
Danielle currently coaches Team England Jazz, and was previously the technique coach at Team England Pom. Her Allstar home is Yorkshire Martyrs, a team which has been going from strength to strength, their Junior Pom team gaining a summit bid in 2019 and the programme is represented in most Team England dance teams. Danielle is a director of Yorkshire Martyrs alongside her sister, Charlotte. She will be very familiar to a lot of you as she demonstrates and teaches the BGU Pom and Jazz coach qualification courses.
1.What dance styles do you specialise in? I specialise in Jazz, Pom and Lyrical.
2. What are your key areas you consult on? Consult in choreography of full routines and end dance sections for cheer. I also hold dance technique workshops along side a successful jumps clinic. I am currently a judge for several different EPs. I also do clean up camps for all of my specialists styles.
3. Which teams have you worked with?
So far within lockdown I have had workshops with 22 programs ranging from worlds teams to beginner dance teams.
4 How are you adapting to teaching around COVID? I have been extremely lucky throughout the pandemic that I have been able to still offer my workshops via zoom. This has still allowed my regular teams to work with me and still further themselves. It has also given me opportunities to work with teams that usually wouldn’t be able to work with me due to distance. I am extremely grateful that I have had the focus of workshops and I have still been able to spread my love of dance with different programmes this way.
5. What kind of support do you offer to help programmes? I work with programmes mainly at the beginning of the season for all workshops. Choreography camps are usually held before Christmas. I offer feedback for choreography and technique both online and in person.
6.Why did you decide to start freelancing outside of your allstar team? I was approached by several different programmes asking for clean up camps and technique classes.
7. What’s your favourite thing about working with so many teams around the country? I love nothing more than spreading my love for dance and allowing dancers to gain from my experiences and knowledge in order to live out their dreams.
8. What has been your most memorable moment from freelancing? Travelling to Europe to hold camps. I have worked so far in both Barcelona with BCN Cheer and in Amsterdam with Legacy Elite. I hope to work with more international teams soon as I have exciting plans for the current season!
9. How can people get hold of you?
I have my profile on instagram- daniellecheeranddance Camps and workshops can also be booked via my email address and my work contact. Email: CDCampsChoreography@gmail.com mobile: 07853384648
Becky Mancini is a reigning world champion for hip hop, as she is a dancer for Allstar Team ADA Dark Angels who won the Open Co-ed Hip Hop Elite Title at ISASF in 2019. She is also the coach of ADA Virtues Jazz and Lyrical who scored worlds bids in their first and second ever seasons respectively. Currently the manager and coach for Team England Hip Hop and an assistant coach for Team England Jazz, Becky is very experienced and knowledgable in multiple styles.
1. What dance styles do you specialise in? I’m a bit of a pic’n’mix to be honest! I specialise in all HipHop styles : popping, locking, house, hiphop choreo, whacking. But I am also a lyrical contemporary and jazz worlds coach therefore work for on this style and the technique within it….And I dabble in some cheer dance too- for the sass!
2 .What are your key areas you consult on? (Ie. Choreography, technique, power, clean ups, judging feedback) I can really work wherever the team desire as I have experience in all but I would say that choreography and visuals are my most key areas – making sure a routine is unique, visual and entertaining to hit that score sheet!
3.Which teams have you worked with? Yorkshire Martyrs, Sharon Ann, Legacy Allstars, Roots Cheer and Dance Scotland, Jets Cheer, Wye and Galaxy … this is just to name a few. And I also am head coach for Team England Hip Hop and assistant coach for Team England Jazz.
4 How are you adapting your teaching around COVID-19? During the lockdown as others I went full swing into zoom classes! Zoom was an absolute saviour for keeping me sane! But also a challenge… trying to choreograph contemporary minus leaps, jumps and travelling was definitely new and my dancers had some epic fails! I am very happy to continue offering classes and freelancing activities over Zoom to teams that still have travel restrictions. The last few weeks Ada have returned to the studio in bubbles – we aren’t yet in our normal teams but just being in the studio seeing the athletes and being back together is just the best feeling! I think covid-19 has certainly taught me and many others to never take life for granted! I am so lucky to have a job I adore and covid-19 really proved to me just how much I love it and need it in my life. I am looking forward to be able to travel to teams once government guidelines and SportCheer England advice allows me to. Even then, I will be observing social distancing and hygiene safety measures like we have at ADA
5 What kind of support do you offer to help programmes? Normally a one off session but with a follow up. For example if a programme was to get me in to choreograph their hiphop routine or a cheer dance section I would teach and do the visuals in one day and then follow this up with regular communications in the form of the coach sending me videos and me giving detailed feedback.
6 Why did you decide to start freelancing outside of your allstar team? Through the pure love of dance and creating! I love working with lots of different dancers and sharing my passion for dance! I believe Allstar is a family and we should share and help each other!
7. What’s your favourite thing about working with so many teams around the country? Similar to before I love meeting new people with the same passion as me! There is so much talent in our country and it’s so exciting getting to work with so much of it!
8. What has been your most memorable moment from freelancing? One of my fav jobs I’ve done was with Roots Dance Academy (Rosie Strachen) the girls were just amazing and my first ever time in Scotland they really looked after me. Plus it was such a great day and I have continued to do some work with these guys over zoom. They are always so hardworking and eager to learn! ALSO Wye and Galaxy brought the whole team I worked with to watch the ADA showcase. This was such a beautiful thing to show pure support to another academy – beautiful people!!
How can people get hold of you?
The best way is via my dance Instagram: beckymancini_darkangels OR via maxourcheeranddance as I am available for booking via these guys too!
Maddie grew up dancing in both Scotland and the US, gaining 27 national titles in the process. She competed at ISASF with CDC Senior Pom and Senior Hip Hop, and has also competed ICU as part of Team Scotland Pom and Hip Hop. Following retiring from competing in 2018, Maddie set up her freelancing business and was offered one of the Team Scotland Jazz coaching positions in
She is also a qualified judge with ICU, lectured at BATD and for Scottish Student Cheer.
1 What dance styles do you specialise in? Pom, Traditional Pom/Cheer Dance, Jazz and Lyrical
2 What are your key areas you consult on? Most of my work is either choreography, consultancy on a competition routine, or intensives which include workshops and masterclasses. I am also an ICU qualified judge, so I suppose that everything I do comes with a little bit of judges feedback! The most common request is for a pom or lyrical workshop.
3 Which teams have you worked with? I am so lucky to have worked all the way from Inverness down to London and across allstar, university and studio dance! Some of my more recent clients include MSD, DM Diamonds, Phoenix Flames, Roots, KDC and the Universities of Glasgow, Edinburgh and Middlesex. I also coached Team Scotland Jazz this year alongside Sharlene.
4.How are you adapting to teaching around COVID-19?
Initially it was all Zoom and Facebook Live, which was a blessing in disguise because it meant people from all over the world could take class with me. It wasn’t without its challenges though – limited space and different flooring being the two that spring to mind. When we were allowed to have outdoor classes, I had a number of wonderful days choreographing in the pouring rain in a local park! Thankfully we’re back in the studio now, but with plenty of restrictions and safety measures in place. While it is tough to not be able to have our typical start to the season or work on all the dance lifts and close contact choreography we’d want, all we can do is follow government advice and know that we’re all in the same boat – the health and wellbeing of people is the most important thing.
5.What kind of support do you offer to help programmes?
(Ie. How long and in what format, for example do you work with programmes throughout the season or generally one off sessions?)
You know, it tends to vary program to program. Some want year-round support for their competition teams and some just want an hour of help on a specific skill! I’m happy to do both. Alongside the usual freelancing help, I offer all of the teams that I work with free, unlimited, year-round feedback on videos as standard. It’s just a little way of saying thank you for letting me be a part of their season! I also try to make it to at least one of the competitions that my clients compete at so that I can support them there too!
6.Why did you decide to start freelancing outside of your allstar team? Initially it was just an excuse to spend even more time in a sport that I loved, doing some class covers and one-off workshops. I freelanced a little back in the day but moved abroad in 2013 and thought that it would be the end – seven years on and here we are! In 2015 I worked exclusively in the studio circuit and competed exclusively in the allstar circuit to try and keep work and play somewhat separate. Through staffing at competitions over the years I had become friendly with a few allstar coaches and towards the end of my dance career some had approached me about working with their teams. Scotland is such a small place that quite often you compete against the same team three or four times in the season and I felt that it would be a conflict of interests to work with teams that I’d compete against so often. Thankfully when I retired in 2018 the offers were still there and I started freelancing for allstar and university programs again.
7.What’s your favourite thing about working with so many teams around the country? Having been in the industry for so long, getting to work with the same programmes year after year and see them progress not only as a team but as individuals is incredible. Often I work with senior and university teams, and watching them getting older and be successful in every aspect of their lives is an amazing part of the job. That’s maybe my favourite part of freelancing, but my favourite part about working with so many teams is seeing the little nuances in how different programs teach dance team. There are so many world-class educators in the UK and I feel like I learn something new everytime I watch other dance coaches work.
8 What has been your most memorable moment from freelancing? Ah, so many. The moment I heard that I had gotten the Team Scotland jobwas super special to me so deserves an honourable mention, but it certainly wasn’t necessarily the most glamorous – I was home alone! Another great time was cleaning and consulting for two defending national champions, the University of Edinburgh Hiphop in 2018 (coached/choreographed by Jen Park) and University of Glasgow Pom in 2020 (coached/choreographed by Elizabeth Groom). Both defended their national titles and more, with Edinburgh also winning BCA Allstar Nationals and Glasgow defending their Grand Champions title at Future Cheer. I went to Edinburgh University and my sister to Glasgow, so it was an honour to help those Scottish teams continue dominate the dance scene all over the UK. The final one which stands out was SSCD winning the Small Junior Pom division at BCA Scottish Sensation in 2019. I try not to think about results too often, but that team was really special to me as it was the first allstar routine that I had choreographed in five years and we just had a ball. The result was so unexpected – by the time the announcer hit the top 3 I was already crying on the ground. It was just the cherry on top of an incredible journey back into freelancing
9.How can people get hold of you? You can find me at maddiejamieson.com, on Instagram @maddiejamiesonchoreo or you can email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Matt is Head Coach for Architects Dance Company in Essex which has multiple worlds bid winning Hip Hop and Lyrical teams.
He is the founder of Team England Hip Hopand led them to top ten placements for five years running, and was working alongside Team Northern Ireland Hip Hop for their worlds routine in 2020. Matt has also competed in the ISASF World Championships in both Jazz and HipHop and performed at one of Europe’s biggest dance exhibitions ‘MOVE IT’ Three times! Matt has spent many years teaching dance and cheerleading in schools, colleges and universities, as well as being a fully qualified Varsity judge and proudly judges numerous competitions for ICC throughout the season.
1 What styles do you specialise in? As a dancer and choreographer I specialise in HipHop, Contemporary/Lyrical & Cheerleading Routine & Dance Choreography. For the past two seasons I have also been able to broaden my skills and choreograph for Chester Vixens University Pom Team. I can’t take all of the credit though, many of the HipHop camps and choreography we do are assisted by the insanely talented Jamie Murphy. Jamie is a dancers and coach at Architects and has one of the best choreographic brains I have seen. He is an absolute inspiration to so many and he brings an incredible energy to every camp.
2 What are your key areas you consult on? We mainly work with teams on choreography for full routines or select sections. We also go in to help clean up/improve upon existing choreography as well as further develop technique to drive scores on the dance scoresheet.
3. What are some of the teams have you worked with? Ahh honestly too many to list! We have been so lucky to have worked with so many teams all across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland!
4. How are you adapting to teaching around COVID-19? COVID-19 has been so tough but I feel like it has made us all stronger! We have pulled together as a dance community making use of the talents of various coaches from all over the country! It’s been great to meet new people via zoom and see them enjoying learning despite being locked indoors! I’ve been fortunate enough to still run classes via instagram live and worked with teams via zoom! We are still happy to work with teams via zoom and other online platforms where local lockdowns are in place. I think it’s sparked a new fire in a lot of teams and dancers who are eager to get back dancing and growing! Luckily we have bookings starting from September and we can’t wait to get back into seeing all of the amazing teams in person!!! We will of course be following all the guidelines available from the Government, and keeping everyone’s safety top priority by observing recommended social distancing and hygiene procedures.
5.What kind of support do you offer to help programmes? So initially teams will book in a one off choreography session. We will head in for a day (for a full routine) which is normally around 8 hours and we work through setting and formatting the routine. We then normally book in a clean up with the team and let them know we are on hand 24/7 with anything they need in terms of feedback, help, reviews, scoresheet breakdown or music edits. It really is a long term relationship and we are so happy to help teams grow and aid them on their journey throughout the season. We invest in a team the same way they invest in us.
6. Why did you decide to start freelancing outside your Allstar team? After moving from a cheerleading and dance programme to just focusing on dance I wanted to still have that outlet for Cheerleading choreography as i absolutely love it. Now that I had stepped away from owning my own cheer gym teams were now really interested to have me in and work with them. In terms of dance, I am just really passionate about seeing the Allstar Dance community pull together and continue to grow and develop. I was fortunate enough to found and head coach Team England HipHop for 5 years and doing that showed me how much talent and passion there is in this country for dance. I love helping both the dancers and the coaches learn more about different styles and choreography and watching them further develop with new skills and knowledge.6.What’s your favourite thing about working with so many teams around the country? Meeting new people, visiting new cities and learning about their teams, lives and experiences. We have made so many friends for life who we keep in regular contact with. It’s an amazing way of bringing people together, all whilst doing something we love! Watching the excitement of the younger dancers when they get to work with someone new and how excited they are to be learning your choreography is truly amazing too!
7. What is your favourite moment from freelancing all over the UK? I think there are honestly too many to list – every single workshop provides us with something memorable. A few of our favourites if we had to pick would be:Working with the first ever Team Northern Ireland Hip Hop team last season. Although Worlds was cancelled these guys worked so hard and really came together as a team. Was an incredible experience to watch something at its absolute beginning and follow its initial journey. TLC from Scotland and their absolutely ADORABLE mini hiphop dancers. Honestly some of the most talented kids I have ever worked with and they are always so excited to learn and show you how hard they can work. A great mix of boys and girls and they came away with Mini Grand Champs and Overall Grand champs of all styles and ages – absolute legends!!!!! Working with Chester Vixens (my family’s hometown) University Teams. These girls are so hardworking and in our first year they walked away with National and Ultimate Champs at the Future Cheer university Competition. These girls do so much for the local community and are an absolute credit to the university cheer scene.
7 How to get in contact with you? We are super busy for the 2020/2021 season but we do have a few dates still available. If anyone would like to book in any dance or cheerleading camps and workshops then either email email@example.com or message us privately 🙂
We hope you found this useful when planning your season ahead! We would love to do another feature on freelancers that help teams to grow later in the season as our aim is to promote UK talent and businesses so get in touch with us if you’d like to get involved: firstname.lastname@example.org or message the Instagram @cheerfromheadtotoeuk. Next week on Dance Sundays: we want to celebrate beautiful lyrical routines! Send your favourite clips of your routines in to us.
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Welcome, welcome, welcome to August’s Upside-down-time’s feature! How is it nearly September already? Who can keep up these days? Any who, let’s get into this month’s blog post:
The only thing we know for certain right now, is that the world is full of uncertainty. My family in Wales have been adhering to different lockdown rules to me here in England. Now Wales has begun opening up, my area has gone into a second lockdown and honestly, I’m more nervous now than I was back in March. Whether you’re anxious or not, there are still so many things to be unsure about. Working from home, A Level results, gyms are open, but we’re not allowed to stunt, some gyms still aren’t able to open. The world has well and truly turned upside-down. I’m hearing lots of questions, and I’m asking myself lots of questions.
When will social distancing be a thing of the past, will it ever be a thing of the past? When will I be able to stunt again?
When will my coach be able to spot my tumbles? Will competitions be able to run as normal?
Will international competitions still run?
Will we be able to go to Worlds 2021?
When will my hands get a break from the constant hand sanitising?
What is normal? And will we ever experience normality again?
Let me tell you a story of a lesson I learned a few years ago. Whilst trivial at the time, it’s something I think back to regularly.
I was at the gym, watching another team train when a stunt fell. The coach stopped the team and they started again. Once again, the stunt fell, and the athletes were visibly frustrated with themselves and each other. I thought the coach was going become angry.
Instead she said so casually, “It’s only cheerleading, nobody died”.
At the time I was an All Star cheerleader, as well as the Club Captain, coach and athlete on my university team. At that point, cheerleading was MY LIFE. I didn’t understand how a coach so experienced and established could say “it’s only cheerleading”. I remember thinking how BIZARRE it was. That memory has stuck with me so much over the years.
She didn’t even say it to me, or my team, and I remember it vividly. It’s so easy to get caught up in the cheer bubble.
We so desperately want to hit zero, to win nationals, to get a bid, get that new skill under our belt, level up, that we forget about every other aspect that makes cheerleading so important. And that’s what we’ve got to remember in times like these. Yes, we all love stunting and competing, and what is cheerleading without the two? Let me tell you: the friendships, the laughs, the inside jokes, the bonds with teammates and coaches, the teamwork, the memories, the skills and life lessons. Of course, the glory of achieving your goals at a competition is a feeling second-to-none, but cheerleading is so much more than that. In the weeks that passed the incident I mentioned above, I started to realise, of course, it is only cheerleading.
We’re often told that “life is short”, so we have to make the most of every moment. And I think that may be why we try to rush levelling up.
When in reality, we should be enjoying the process and appreciating the sport for as long as we can. Why would you want to rush that? Life is full of so many uncertainties. You can plan, and plan, and plan, and unfortunately sometimes a spanner can be thrown into the works and it messes up your plans; an injury, a change of job or location, COVID-19. What is going to make the best athlete, is how you respond in the face of adversity.
Why waste time dwelling over what could have been, or questioning what might be? If you spent 5 minutes dwelling per day for the next 6 months, that equates to at least 15 hours of dwelling. Think of how much stronger (and happier) you could be if you’d have spent those 15 hours conditioning. We can’t change what has happened, and time will only tell what is to come. Focus on what you can control in the now. If the now is that you can’t go back into the gym yet, make sure you’re doing what you can at home. You may not have the space at home to practise tumbles, but you have the space to practise training those muscles in the form of conditioning and stretching.
At some point we all had to learn the basics of cheerleading, what is a high V, clean, etc. And it’s the basics we need right now, not only to keep our minds occupied and our bodies moving, but to really cherish this fantastic sport, to go back to the foundations, a bottom up approach, to be the best, strongest, most committed and determined athletes we can be. We’ve already had close to 6 months without cheerleading, we’re hungry. Let’s remain hungry, lets keep that hunger for the next 6 months. Imagine how hungry every team in the UK will be when we compete. If everyone is so hungry, imagine how amazing UK cheerleading will be. Phenomenal.
This month’s wellbeing exercise: Box Breathing.
Dwelling on the past or becoming anxious about the future can be hella stressful!
Especially if you’re noticing other teams go back to training when you’re unable to. When your emotions start running high and you need to bring your focus back to becoming a stronger athlete, give box breathing a try. Start out by exhaling, releasing all the oxygen you can from your lungs.
Inhale for a count of 4. A SLOW count of 4. Try and fill your lungs with as much air as you possibly can. Next, hold your breath for a count of 4. Again, a slow count of 4. Then exhale for a count of four, again releasing as much air as possible from your lungs. You know the drill, a slow count of 4. Finally, hold your breath once more for a SLOW count of 4. Repeat this up to 4 times. If that doesn’t work, try out last month’s body scanning technique to reduce any tension you’re expressing in your muscles. Or stay tuned for the upcoming months’ tip which may work better for you.
I’d advise first practising box breathing when you’re not in a heightened emotional state. It can be a little tricky to start with and can sometimes make you dizzy when you’re first starting out. That’s the last thing you need when you’re stressed out in the middle of a training session. If done correctly, evidence suggests that box breathing can provide an almost immediate sense of calm and even lower your blood pressure!
As always, we’d love for you to be involved in our Upside-down-time feature. If you’re reading this on a mobile device, screenshot the article and tag us on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter our social media platform link below.. If you want to be featured next month, post a photo or video of yourself upside-down (e.g. handstands), tagging on above and beyond for their team, charity, etc. This can be yourself, teammates, coaches or cheer- parents! Message us with any nominations you have!
Ta’ra for now! Rachel x
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We might be introducing non stunting divisions, engineering new ways to stunt socially distanced, focussing on our tumbling and jumping to keep doing what we love while protecting everyone. One great way to be able to adapt to the times is by adding dance teams to your programme. While lifts and contact is common in dance routines, you can choreograph without it and therefore there is the option to have teams that can power through the pandemic where social distancing affects it as little as possible. It also allows your athletes to train routines of similar length as a cheerleading routine, thereby building back up stamina. Just be careful of your formation transitions!
2: Improves skills for cheerleading
Pom: The closest style to cheerleading, doing Pom offers great muscle strength and stamina training. Pom is a fast style and breaks are rare. Often there will be multiple moves within a count (which has already been sped up to 150bpm plus, faster the better for Pom) and you have motions or transitions straight into and straight after skills meaning there is no recovery time. Added to this, Pom done well requires every move to be hit with a decisive force to get the signature “wow” effect. If your arms don’t kill after an hour of Pom, you’re not doing it right. Pom is 2 minutes plus of unresting power. The result of this for cheerleaders means improved stamina to nail that jump or tumble section at the end of a routine, and the strength training will add finesse and power to jumps, tumbling and end dance. It sharpens and re-enforces cheerleading motions, jump power and technique and turn practice immeasurably improves core strength and balance which is a great skill for flyers to work on. A dance competition floor is not as cushioned and dance shoes not as forgiving as cheer shoes for jumps in my opinion and it does require slightly more power and technique to have nice jumps (make sure to land with your feet together or you risk injuring an ankle and toes pointed or you will lose marks). Jumps on a cheer mat after working on them in a hall or with dance floor feel easier and higher. It is also a fantastic way to improve performance given that the type of performance facials and style is the same for both Pom and cheerleading. As a quick style that demands precision, it will also improve athletes’ ability to pick up choreography and execution of that choreography which are skills that can really improve your cheerleading score sheets
Jazz and Lyrical are grouped together here because they offer similar benefits for cheerleaders but we will be doing an article on the differences between them later in the season. Both styles encourage a progression in musicality – an athletes ability to hear and react to nuances in the music. Hearing and reacting prepares athletes for if their music cuts out at competitions and teaches them to react appropriately to music cues enhancing their performance. Emphasis on beautiful lines in both jazz and lyrical is a beautiful way of working on both technique for flyer stretches and team flexibility. Team flexibility is super beneficial for jumps, tumbling and for adding in cool visuals in the end dance. Actual cheer stretches such as scorpions or scales are most often used as highlight skills but even a simple team kick allows athletes to practice placement and flexibility for heel stretches. Practicing Firebird jumps stretch for scorpions. A very direct way to improve flexibility in a fun, rewarding way.
The intricacies and speed of hip hop choreography improves an athletes ability to be accurate and pay attention to detail. Hip Hop also relies on learning and perfecting a uniformity which is incredibly useful for cheerleading. Hip Hop places great importance on formations being perfect to best show off visual effects. If you would like your athletes to nail their formations in cheerleading, hip hop (and Pom) are fantastic ways of improving this. In hip hop are also great tricks that can help your athletes practice tumbling in a routine in this socially distanced world, such as corkscrews, kip ups, headsprings, front or back somersault and aerial skills. The various hip hop styles also translate phenomenally well to end dance variety, confidence and performance.
Please note that sometimes the benefits above do cross over, in which case (for example musicality would definitely apply to all three!) I have picked the division I think best represents this benefit.
3: Boom in popularity-growing divisions
Allstar Dance is really strong in the north of England and Scotland, and growing rapidly in the south. If there is no dance team in your area, you might be missing a trick and you should probably start one before someone else does. Our advice is to check your surrounding area for dance teams first to see if it is an area you want to go into. For example, there are at least 8 Allstar dance teams in Manchester and at least 6 in and around Glasgow so if you are from there it is quite a crowded market. We will shortly be releasing a tool to help with this.
4:Amazing role models
Teams England, Scotland and Wales are all amazing role models, doing fantastically every year. I was quite gutted, being half-Northern Irish, that Team Northern Ireland hip hop didn’t get their debut last year but I know they will be fantastic too. We also have many world leading Allstar dance teams in the UK, with so many placing in the top ten and ADA Dark Angels even winning in 2019. Then going on The Greatest Dancer for good measure.
5: Qualifications easier to get than ever
With ICU, BCA and BGU moving all their dance coach credentialling courses online, it has never been easier to learn and gain your qualifications. Make sure to take advantage of it! Message them for more information.
6:University Threatened seasons
For those offering sessions for adult age athletes, dance cheerleading is getting increasingly more popular and more competitive at university level and there are a growing number not wanting to retire. With COVID 19 ruining many university cheerleaders final seasons and an increasing amount of universities banning or postponing sports activities for 2020/21 academic year, many of the affected athletes might look to Allstar in order to continue training.
Dance is typically less expensive than Cheerleading at present. For starters, starting a dance team requires no equipment other than a hall or studio. You could theoretically even start in a park. We have seen many dance teams training outside observing social distancing at the moment. Uniforms are typically not as expensive as cheerleading (the worlds teams have fairly expensive uniforms but you can still get wonderful ones for under £80 each). Shoes are cheaper – you’re looking at £30-40 for top end dance shoes. I will be recommending some dance suppliers at a later date.
Sounds great, but need a little help? Next week we will be showcasing some experienced UK based freelancers that can help all teams from new to experienced in order get the most from each style.
Written by Emma
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I was the coach/captain of my cheerleading committee for 2 years whilst I was at University so I know the highs and lows that come along with having such an important role. It can be incredibly stressful but also incredibly rewarding, however I don’t think it’s a role you should take on half heartedly, make sure it’s something you are ready to commit too and have time for, because it’s not an easy job.
I can’t say things will be run exactly the same at every University but I imagine things are pretty similar. My suggestions and experiences are all things that have come from my own experience, so please do take them and adapt them to best suit how your University may run things.
Sport committee training
At the start of the year my University offered sports committee training, and if your University does the same I do really recommend going. It is a chance to meet and get to know Student Union staff members who are going to help you run things throughout your time on the committee. It can be slightly frustrating as University Cheerleading isn’t a BUCS sport, therefore it is run very differently to the majority of other sports committees and some of the information they tell you is the most important, is not actually relevant to you. You should however take notice of things like booking transport, social rules, booking facilities within the university, and budget.
Sorting out Kit should be at the top of your to-do list
One of the main things that me and my committee struggled with during our time was kit. Cheerleading uniform is obviously very different to a football/rugby kit and therefore needs a specific provider. Originally our student union wanted us to stick with the official sports kit provider for our University, however I had to explain this was not going to be possible as a cheerleading uniform is very different. I would say try to be as understanding and helpful as possible during meetings with your committee and student union as it is going to make everyone’s lives easier. I sent pictures of different cheer uniforms to the kit provider and student union to show them the kind of thing we were looking for and they agreed it would not be possible for them to make it. This means you are going to have to look elsewhere and do a lot of work yourself. Pink Fudge is a good cheer uniform provider for Universities as they produce good uniforms at good prices. Also don’t be afraid to message other teams to ask where they got their kit from and how they did it, as I’m sure they will be happy to give you some advice.
Team Socials shouldn’t just be about drinking
Socials are obviously another major part of being on a sports team at University. The classic social is going out on a Wednesday night with your sports team to specially discounted places and consuming alcohol. This makes sense for BUCS teams as typically they have their games on a Wednesday afternoon so they want to celebrate on a Wednesday evening. Cheerleading teams will be the same as this if they are a match day team but different if they are a competitive team. Our competitive team had training on a Thursday which meant there were more than a few sore heads at training after a social. You need to initially discuss as a committee your rules on attendance to training and make your rules clear to the team. We made it clear that a hangover is not an excuse to miss training. Also be sure not just to do alcohol fuelled socials. There may be people on your team that don’t like drinking or just the club environment in general. You do not want these members to feel left out. Plan things like pizza nights, trampolining park days, film nights, anything you think would be fun. This can also be an opportunity for you all to bond even further. The better the bond the better the team.
Attendance and why you need to value your reserves
I think discussing attendance rules is one of the first jobs you should do as a committee. Attendance at practise is one of the most important things. One person missing could mean a whole group of people cannot practise properly for a whole session, which is unfair on them. We decided on a 3 strike policy unless there was obviously a very legitimate reason they could not attend. You need to make whatever you decide very clear even at tryouts I would say. Stress the importance and impact of attendance on the whole team right from the get go and make sure you enforce it.
Linking on from that, I would say when you are selecting the team, make sure you select reserves and make sure they know that they are valued as an extremely important part of the team. Every year I was on my university team we had people that dropped out, people that got injured and even people that we had to remove due to the 3 strike policy we put in place. This meant our reserves almost always ended up competing with us. They attended every practise and made sure they knew the counts and learnt technique along with everyone else. They filled in for people if they missed practise so that everyone could still train. This meant they were ready to jump in whenever we needed them, they are a bit of a lifeline for you.
Clarify each committee members duties and role
In terms of your actual roles on the committee, make sure that everybody knows exactly what they are doing. This does not however mean that you each get assigned jobs and then don’t speak about it again. For the majority of things you are all going to have to work together and help each other out. For example the president may book transport but the treasurer will have to sign off on the payment. Communication is key. If you don’t communicate effectively with each other, this is when things start to go wrong and get complicated. I would say make a whatsapp group and keep each other as up to date with everything as you can.
In terms of your individual roles though, I think sitting down together and making a list of the important things you each need to tackle is a really good idea. For example as the coach I had to book training facilities and times, organise practise and organise music amongst other things. If you have a list of everything, then you can tick them off as you go. Again, this doesn’t mean you can’t all help each other out, it’s just a great way to stay organised and keep on top of everything.
You need to sort out where you’re going to train asap
Facilities are also a big issue when it comes to University Cheerleading teams. We only had access to the sports hall and a few of those blue mats you do PE on in primary school. (If you know, you know) This meant for the people that had never done cheerleading before it was virtually impossible to visualise formations and transitions effectively. I would suggest trying to make friends with your nearest cheerleading team which has a full sized floor. I know they can be expensive to hire out but even if you use it maybe 2 times in the close lead up to competition it will make the world of difference and ensure that your team understands spacing and formations.
Work out your team budget asap
Budget can be very stressful as competition entry fees, training facilities, transport, music and kit all add up. I would say do as much fundraising as you possibly can. Make sure the treasurer knows exactly how much money is going where and how much you need to raise for certain things. It is always nice if you’ve got a bit extra for things like spirit jerseys and custom bows and even little keepsakes for your team. Discuss with your committee and team what you’d all be happy doing as a fundraiser and pitch it to your student union, then get to work! Trust me, it’s worth it.
When the time finally comes to the competition you’ve been training for all year it is going to be exciting, nerve wracking and stressful. I would advise that as a committee you send out a list of everything that everyone needs to know and remember, this way you will not be bombarded with questions 24/7. This was something I picked up from my first All Star team. Our coach would post a list of details in our facebook group, maybe the week before the competition. Make sure to list as many things as possible, you may think there is no way someone would forget certain things but trust me it happens. For example include very specific transport/arrival times for the day, specific hairstyles, wristbands and ID cards, hair bows, uniform, socks in a specific style and colour, cheer shoes…. The list can go on and on.
How to stay professional when working with friends
Last but not least you need to think carefully about working with friends and housemates. It may seem super exciting to be on a committee with someone you live with or your best friend, but sometimes it can be a disaster waiting to happen. Make sure you will be able to continue your role professionally if something were to go south with a friendship, as quitting your role half way through the year can make it really stressful for your whole team. It may lead to poor communication within the committee or someone just deciding to quit all together, neither of which you want to happen.
Its worth it
When it comes down to it all the stress and hard work is worth it. The feeling when you come off the mat at competition (for many of the people on your team it may be their first time ever competing) is just amazing. Knowing that all your hard work together as a committee got all these people here is indescribable. The more time and effort you put in, the more you will get out. There is nothing better than seeing a team of smiling faces walking off the mat. It might be stressful and you might want to tear your hair out at times, but stick it out and stick together and you’ll never forget your experience.
What’s your opinion on running a committee effectively do you think
What’s your opinion on running a committee effectively do you think we miss anything out if so comment below?
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