Cheerleading routines include a wide range of acrobatic skills, movements, and techniques. Although cheerleaders are commonly known for their gymnastic and stunting abilities, they may also be expected to perform a choreographed dance sequence to a song or music mix. Many cheer competitions require a dance section be performed and synchronized to a USA Cheer-compliant music mix.
If you don't have a background in dance or cheer-style dances, this can be an extremely difficult and frustrating section to choreograph.
If hiring a choreographer is not within your program's budget this season, here are a few tips for choreographing a cheer-style dance!
STEP 1: CHOOSE A SONG
Before you start choreographing a dance for a cheerleading routine, the first thing you'll want to do is choose a song for the dance.
There are several things you want to consider when choosing a song for a cheer-style dance:
The song must be compliant with USA Cheer's music guidelines. The head coach or your preferred music producer must acquire the proper license(s) to use the songs in a public performance or incorporate them into a cheer mix.
The song should be family-friendly, and appropriate for the age group performing the routine.
The pace or speed of the song should be appropriate for your squad's current dance abilities. (Typically between 120 to 145 beats-per-minute)
Pop songs are the most commonly used genre of music in cheer-style dances. Avoid music genres that don't have a bright, upbeat rhythm.
Make sure the song is something the majority of your team can agree on and enjoy dancing to.
Once you have found the right song, determine the length your dance section needs to be. Competitive cheer routines usually include up to six (6) 8-counts of dance.
STEP 2: FORMATIONS & TRANSITIONS
The next step in choreographing a dance for a cheer routine is to plan out the potential formations and transitions between those formations. Pre-plan your formations on paper while keeping in mind the amount of the cheerleaders performing the dance section and the type(s) of performance surface that will be available for practices & performance(s).
For a basic dance routine, formations should be symmetrical and highlight various levels of choreography. Transitions from one formation to the next should be aesthetically pleasing to the eye and simple for the cheerleaders to learn and execute.
For beginners or coaches with little experience, we recommend choreographing one (1) formation change per 8-count. As you become more comfortable and confident with choreographing cheer-style dances, you can increase the number of formation changes per 8-count.
STEP 3: DANCE IT OUT!
Once you completed the first 2 steps, the last thing to-do before teaching the dance is coming up with the choreographed part(s) you plan to teach.
Listen to the part of the song you plan on having your cheer squad dance to, and start dancing!
Here are some helpful tips for selecting and choreographing a cheer-style dance:
Be confident and don't be afraid to make changes. It can take 20 ridiculous motions before you find the right one.
If possible, use a mirror to help you see the moves as you are performing them and choreography the main dance part.
Incorporate sharp, crisp motions & movements that feel and look natural when performed with the music.
Use the words, rhythm, and beats within the song to inspire dance movements & choreography.
Create level changes to add variation and depth throughout the formations and transitions. [For example, try to convert the main dance part to performed by some cheerleaders on one knee, or while facing another direction (besides the front).]
Squads that have experience with lifts and/or stunts can incorporate these types of elements into a dance to add a fun, eye-catching, and another level of height to formations and transitions.
Incorporating a tumbling skill in the dance is a great way to show-off a team's multi-talented athletes.