Is it or isn’t it dancing…that is the question? Cheerleading in general can range from yelling to intense physical activity. Let’s examine what “cheerleading” is. Routines usually range from one to three minutes, which may contain tumbling, dancing, jumping, cheers and various acrobatic stunts.
Cheerleading originated in the United States and remains predominately American. There is an estimated 1.5 million participants in all-star cheerleading. The presentation of cheerleading as a sport to a global audience was led by the 1997 start of broadcasts of cheerleading competition by ESPN International and the worldwide release of the 2000 film Bring It On. Due in part to this recent exposure, there are now an estimated 100,000 participants scattered around the rest of the world in countries like Australia, Canada, China, Columbia,
Cheerleading roots began in the 18th century. It actually started as a rebellious movement. After the American Revolutionary War, students experienced harsh treatment from teachers. In response to the faculty’s abuse, college students acted out. The undergraduates began to riot, burn down buildings located on their college campuses, and assault faculty members. As time went on, in more calmer ways, students invented and organized their own extracurricular activities outside their professors’ control. This was the beginning of sports and cheerleading on college campuses.
On November 6, 1869, the United States participated in its first intercollegiate football game. It took place between Princeton and Rutgers University, and marked the day the original “Sis Boom Rah!” was shouted out by student fans. Would you believe that cheerleading started out an all-male activity. It started as early as 1877 by Princeton University. Female participation started in 1923 at the University of Minnesota. Actually, women didn’t start to become cheerleaders until the 1940s. It almost exclusively became known as a feminine activity. Now you can find female cheerleaders ranging from grade school level all the way up the “school chain” to collegiate level.
Now, back to the question at hand, is cheerleading considered dance? Well, let’s put all the pieces of cheerleading together and finally answer that question. There are difficult stunt sequences, gymnastics, i.e. pyramids and tumbling passes, a cheerleader must master. Not to mention, you must have rhythm, have to be coordinated and athletic. Then you must work well with your teammates. There is now even competitive cheerleading. Competitive cheerleading is scored subjectively based on many things, including, but not limited to the cheer itself, the dance section, and how good your pyramid, stunting, tumbling is and looks to the audience.
My vote, is a BIG, FAT “YES” and then some!! Cheerleading is an art in and of itself. Big props to you out there who have been one…maybe you are a ballroom/dancesport dancer because you were a cheerleader in school and it inspired you to go further with your dance endeavors. And as a side note, yours truly, a cheerleader in middle school – loved it!!
As an added treat, please enjoy these up close and personal cheerleader photos taken at the Arnold’s Sports Festival held in Columbus, Ohio in early March. These photos were taken by our co-founder, Alex Havasi. Also, a big thank you to Marilyn Fordney for thinking that cheerleading would make a good blog. She was right!
Thought Of The Week:
Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. – Howard Thurman