Of Passion and School Spirit: Dissecting the UAAP CDC 2014

From going back to its original home, Smart-Araneta Coliseum, to a heartwarming and spontaneous parade of the rainbow flag around the Big Dome, UAAP schools proved once again why this event is considered one of the biggest and most anticipated sporting event in the country. Here is my review of the recently concluded UAAP CHEERDANCE 2014.

Whenever there is a cheerdance competition, I evaluate the participating squads with only my two multiple-layered criteria, CREATIVITY and TECHNICALITY. To make sure I did not miss on any details that each squad executed, I had to review all their videos again after seeing them live. (video credits to ABS-CBN Sports + Action Youtube channel)

8. ATENEO BLUE BABBLE BATALLION

Rocking their navy-themed routine, Ateneo’s Blue Babble squad still landed at the bottom of the competition. However this team still deserves a full salute for their ‘heartstrong’ performance. An insider news from a very reliable source said that this year is totally a fresh start for the squad in blue and white. Yes they are on a rebuilding stage but they did not go home with a mediocre performance for their alma mater.

ATENEO1

On screen: Their first pyramid segment may actually be one of their most solid executions in years. Flyers showed high confidence while doing their part. The lack of difficulty in their stunts and tumblings were compensated by their improved dance choreography with more seamless transition. The highlights of their dance routine were the flaunting of legs of their lady cheerers and the ‘Candyman’ segment where the boys just gave it. The faults in some parts of their stunts and pyramids may have been caused by rookie jitters but they also showed presence of mind during crunch time.

Live: The BBB actually looked confident and fun while performing their routine. I must say that it has been long since I’ve seen Ateneo this confident. However, their deficiency in executing difficult stunts and tumblings did not get the crowd excited. There were some dull moments probably because of the minimal energy and power in execution given off by the performers. Even with all the snide comments from the netizens I still believe that Ateneo is off to a good start. With a solid recruitment program, and coaching staff I believe that Ateneo will make it big in the coming years and prove to the cheer community that they too deserve a spot again on the podium.

Personal rating: 3.00

7. UE PEP SQUAD

Being the squad from the host school is already a huge pressure to deal with for the UE Pep Squad. Moreover, to be the first performer in this big competition will surely make you pee on your pants. Fortunately, the Red Warriors did not. UE Pep Squad improved a notch higher again in terms of difficulty and technique with their routine inspired by the rich culture of our Muslim brothers and sisters from the south.

UE

On Screen: UE Pep Squad launched this year’s routine with them showing another improvement in their team skills in the tumbling element. The mounting of their stunts, the different body positions on tosses, and the creative transition sequence in pyramids were all part of  UE’s campaign for a better ranking this year. Though they showed improvement in the said elements, it looked like they had a hard time pulling off their routine with their poor execution and form in some of their tossess and stunts segments. The Warriors’ big pyramid fall at 3:15 was the start of their morale decline. They could have ranked better if only they executed their routine with more precision.

Live: They were the first to perform and it left no impact to me after. They could have performed better with their big crowd and big morale from last year’s output. But I must commend their costume because it’s one of the more pleasing ones during the competition. In a more colloquial term, the routine was kind of “pilit”. This squad is starting to show a big improvement since last year I just hope that in the future they will develop that killer instinct to finally make it in the top 3.

Personal rating: 2.75

6. DLSU ANIMO SQUAD

DLSU Animo Squad was one of the squads looked forward by many cheering fans because of their podium finish last year. It is indeed hard to make it to the top 3 with the caliber of squads in the UAAP Cheerdance Competition. But for the Animo Squad the real challenge lies on defending their hard-fought spot in the top 3. Their underwhelming performance, however, did not help them in their campaign to improve or at least equalize their spot from last year’s competition.

Untitled

On Screen: With their inter-galactic theme, the Animo Squad showed minimal improvement in all elements. The squad did not look as confident as they did from last season. Their pyramid and stunt segments, that I believe were essential factors for their last year’s 2nd-runner-up win, got really shaky this year. The decline in their chance to win started during their tumbling pass sequence. It was uncharacteristic for the Animo Squad to commit that number of faults since they have proven already their solid executions for the past years.

Live: The crowd went wild when they flashed their light sabers. Who would not? Right? But I honestly think that it was not given much justice. During that part, the Archers looked exhausted already and they did not give off the required energy for that sequence. I would still argue though that La Salle has one of the strongest lifters in the whole competition. With the ample amount of preparation and training, I believe that they are still a contender and will be back with burning Animo spirit next year.

Personal rating: 2.5

5. FEU CHEERING SQUAD

“Charge back!” was the battlecry of FEUCS for this year. They were thirsty for that podium finish once again. The Morayta-based squad is one of the crowd favorites because of their jaw-dropping performances every year. However for the second time in a row, the Tamaraws failed again to make it to the top 3.

feu

On Screen: The FEUCS had a really strong routine this year. They could have excelled in all elements especially in the pyramid part but they failed to execute it flawlessly. With their Chinese-themed routine, the FEU showed why they were considered as top contender for the crown for the past years. They had the one of the more memorable floor dances (4:24) and one of the more unique pyramid sequence this year (1:00). They also showed a solid tumbling pass sequence. But their faulty stunts sequence and a major fall in one of their pyramids were the odds for the squad to charge back to the top.

Live: The energy they showed is what I’m talking about. They were very consistent on this part. Despite their falls, they still executed their routine graciously and their energy was all over the coliseum. On the other hand, they did not look good in their costume. It’s not big of a factor but it still affected the impact of their routine. They were second to perform but I honestly thought they started the competition. It’s heartbreaking to see the FEUCS fall from the top three so I hope they will truly charge back next year and regain that winning tradition that they once had.

Personal rating: 2.00

4. Adamson Pep Squad

With limited hype to AdU Pep Squad’s routine, many were curious on how they will fair in this year’s competition. Well, they surprised everyone with their strong and solid pirate-themed routine.

Adu

On Screen: The Adu Pep Squad was the dark horse of the competition. They fired difficult x-out fulls and high-level body positions in stunts. This squad also captured the crowd’s attention with their creative dance routine and that pyramid save (5:10). They had a little problem with blockings and tumblings, but all in all they really soared high this year. Should they keep improving at this rate, Adamson might actually become a big threat for other squads.

Live: Honestly before the competition I thought Adamson’s performance would just pass unnoticeable. But they did prove many people wrong (including me). They did not fail the growing crowd of Adamson. They really delivered a strong message to the UAAP fans that they are now a force to watch out for in the coming years. They looked confident and determined to show the improvements they made. This squad became promising because of their performance this season. For sure the fans now are excited for their next year’s performance.

Personal rating: 2.00

3. UST Salinggawi Dance Troupe

UST SDT was once the standard of cheerdance in the Philippines. But for the past years, a podium finish has been very elusive for them. Fortunately after three years of not being in the top three, they finally got back with their Chinese-inspired theme.

ust

On Screen: Salinggawi Dance Troupe is known to be a group of versatile dancers and they definitely showed it in this year’s routine. They performed with flawless executions in all elements. Their dance segments were visually-appealing and it made the crowd go up from their seats. Their stunts and pyramids were not the most difficult ones this year but they did improve a lot.

Live: Minutes before the competition I was concerned with the UST crowd not in their usual number and noise. This was caused probably by the last year’s seventhh-placed finish of the squad. Fortunately, the UST Salinggawi Dance Troupe did not falter with their receding number of fans. They performed with enough composure and determination to grab that podium finish. All die-hard UAAP CDC fans would agree that this big win by the Tigers was momentous. It’s about time for the squad in yellow and white to bring back their championship tradition.

Personal rating: 1.75

2. UP Pep Squad

Tagged by many as the “Pepsquad ng Bayan”, the Up Pep Squad made a statement through their routine. They have revolutionized the essence of UAAP CDC time and time again from a mere competition to an expression of advocacy.

UP!!

On Screen: The UP Pep Squad debunked the notion of inequality in their routine. Their passion to send out the message was manifested through their flawless execution of unique pyramids and stunts where the main flyers were their male members. If you are a lifter in your own cheering squad, you have probably dreamt of becoming a flyer at least once in your career in a big competition without looking stupid. Well the UP Pep Squad just made your dream come true, in a sense. The UP Pep squad may not have won the title but they did leave a big challenge to other teams in terms of surpassing the creativity that they have shown this year. Pure genius.

Live: I was shouting from beginning to end so I have nothing really to say for this one except euphoric.

Personal rating: 1.25

1. NU Pep Squad

Many would agree that NU Pep squad performed with difficulty, technicality, and precision. Since their big championship win last year, the NU Bulldogs was not ready yet to hand over their crown easily.

nu

On Screen: Huge pressure was on the shoulders of the NU Pep Squad as the title-holder of the competition. Good thing is they did not disappoint the crowd. The level of difficulty in all elements especially on stunts and pyramids that they showed this year is far from other teams. They were on top of skills standing. One-leg-toss-to-hand-tic-toc? No problem. They executed crazy transitions in their pyramid and stunts segment. Surprisingly, they also performed great in the dance part. In a competition where difficulty and precision are the biggest factors, NU proved to be a deserving winner.

Live: I would be lying if I said I did not expect NU to win. I mean c’mon they wanted it so bad. They had five stars in all elements and even with their 15-point deduction they still managed to leave a big disparity in scores. It will be a long way for other teams to beat NU in terms of difficulty. However, this squad should not be complacent for every year the competition gets stiffer and stiffer.

Personal rating: 1.25

*Personal rating is based on UP grading system. Not sorry.

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