Cheerleaders are dancers too!

Cheerleading started in the 1800s as a means of showing school pride and spirit at sporting events to support and cheer on their fellow classmates. Initially, cheerleading was an all male sport at a collegiate level. Music and dance didn't really evolve in cheerleading until females became part of the team. Along with tumbling, stunting, jumping and cheering, today's cheerleaders are required to show off their dance skills and techniques during routines, which increases the level of athleticism that cheerleaders need to have. Music and dance helps make a cheer squad's sideline or competition performance unique by allowing them to display an array of talent from various disciplines.

The Start of Cheerleading

In the 1800s when cheerleading began, the main idea was to generate crowd spirit and appeal to fans. Showing support for the athletes was a huge priority and allowed the athletes to gain confidence and play a better game overall. Over time, more and more tactics have been introduced to cheerleading such as dance and music. Both of these have helped shape the sport, making cheerleading that much more competitive.

Important Factors and Figures

Women. With the lack of opportunity for women to participate in sports, the cheer squad was perfect for females to finally become associated. Females first appeared in cheerleading at the collegiate level and high school cheer teams eventually accepted them as well.

Female participation in the cheerleading squads led to the progression of dance. Incorporating motions and dance technique led to the invention of the cheer routine, which was performed during halftime. The male's main role was to still lead chants, yells, and cheers, while the female cheerleaders performed synchronized routines for the crowd.

World War II. A significant turning point in the world of cheerleading was World War II. When men went off to war in the 1940s, cheerleading was now considered a sport for female participation. School spirit had taken a dive and left the crowd less enthusiastic, and it was the cheerleader's responsibility to make a change. Women used dance to breathe new life into their sport, and into the crowds. To entertain the crowd, difficult choreography and dance moves were increasingly being put into performances.

Lawrence R. Herkimer. This famous cheerleading figure is responsible for many aspects of cheerleading. One very important component is coordinating the first cheerleading camp in 1949. This allowed cheerleaders to come together and collaborate ideas. Pertaining to dance, these camps taught proper technique and form, aiding in creating original and interesting dance routines to be shown in front of crowds.

Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders. Professional cheerleading teams were being established in the 1960s. The Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders created a routine that was purely focused on dance motions and technique to amuse the fans and crowds at football games. In 1976 they did a performance at the Super Bowl X focusing solely on dance, which started and aided in the expansion of dance within cheerleading. Ultimately, this highly publicized occurrence of the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader's performance reached high school and college cheer teams, and soon these teams began to engage in dance on the sidelines and during competitions.

Music in Cheerleading

Without music, dance wouldn't be able to reach its full potential! Music took part in cheerleading in the 1920s when students began to bring in the use of drums and noisemakers. Throughout history, cheerleaders have also performed with their school's band. Today, technology is used to generate custom mixes and voiceovers for cheerleading teams.

Music allows cheerleaders to create a dance routine that wows the judges. It also makes it that much more appealing and exciting for the crowd and fans.

Sometimes music is required to last throughout the whole routine, this is called "show-cheer". Many aspects of cheerleading are still included (stunts, tumbling, jumps), but the routine is performed to the rhythm of the music or a cheerleading mix.

Overall, dance and music helped produce more school pride and spirit within the school and community. Both efficiently raise the support for the athletes of any sports team but making the performance more dynamic and attention-grabbing.