Seven colleges fought for the throne and the pinnacle of the pyramid. With months of conceptualization, preparation, and training spent on coming up with jaw-dropping stunts and heart-stopping performances, the fight for the coveted trophy has never been fiercer. Kingdoms have risen and fallen over the years, and so have pyramids and one-man lifts.

With seven colleges in the running and months of labor spent into this dangerously beautiful sport, the 2015 cheer dance competition set the perfect tone for the rest of the games.

Last minute retreat

Wanting to bounce back from last year’s withdrawal, the CIT’s Knights Cheer League was determined for a comeback. Funds were raised and the performers were trained, eager for their return on center stage. The stage, after missing their performance last season, was more than ready to accommodate the gallant Knights.

However, according to their student council president and fellow cheer dance participant Karl Kester Enguito, an important document was not signed due to several reasons, forcing the Knights to back out at the last minute.

Return from the ward

After pulling out from the competition in the previous year, the Pythons slithered back, tongues flicking and seeking redemption. Showing their might in numbers, big voices chanted as the Nursing Pythons kicked off their performance with a series of dynamic motions. With generally younger looking performers, the routine took a lively youthful spin as fast-paced music and well-timed lifts made for a dynamic performance despite their lack in difficult stunts. The Pythons went wild as each flyer was lifted up and performed nearly flawless awesome.

Things started to look bad for the Pythons when two out of four flyers fell, and the other two still a little shaky as they performed torches, arabesques, and a pretty girl stunt. As dancers made well-timed, snappy motions, others performed cartwheels and got things rolling across the stage. They then proceeded to the skies as flyers were lifted to form hitches and pyramids.

The Pythons proved that lifts and tosses alone do not make a great performance.Still a little rusty from their year off the competition however, the Pythons landed in seventh place with 54.18 points.

One, flying family

With no intention of beating around the bush, the Warriors immediately gave the audience a taste of the action. Flyers were raised and tossed as deep voices echoed. Their fellow Warriors in the audience showed that though they weren’t part of the dance, they were definitely part of the cheers, proving that they were indeed one tribe and one family.

Snappy motions followed the chant before they transitioned to a series of flips, scales, and bows and arrows. However, things quickly went down for the Warriors when bases struggled in the transitions and in supporting flyers. Thus, some failed to perform in collaborate group arabesques and scales.

The crowd went wild as two male dancers threw cheeky shakes and lip synced as the audio played “Kami ang mga pabebe girls.” Everyone then watched in awe as two flyers were tossed several feet into the hands of another set of bases. Then, the audience suddenly held their breaths as flyers held hands and free-fall backwards as in a trust-fall exercise.

In the end, the Warriors fell back into sixth place with 56.18 points, two steps down from last year’s fourth place.

Fallen kings

Roars of hype and high expectations echoed as people in dark colored costumes streaked with red and gold pounced towards center stage. With an African theme to their performance and eyes literally red with determination, the Tigers kicked off the event with snappy motions as they cheered their college chant, their fellow Tigers in the bleachers chanting with them in chorus.

The ArtScies faithful roared in awe as the center flyer performed a kick-single basket followed by a heel stretch and torch before transitioning to a perfect double full basket. Each female dancer then performed a split lift before being lifted up to form picture perfect scorpions and scales. Bows and arrows were then thrown followed by flawless arabesques. In the midst of the hype, things started to go down for the Tigers as weak bases resulted in occasional falls. Cheer dancers who threw cheeky shakes and kisses intended for the crowd ended up kissing the ground instead. The Tigers however, recovered when three flyers were flipped before landing into a split-lift and being raised for a perfect hitch.

The Tigers ended with a roar and dynamic motions to the song “Waka Waka” Earning 68.74 points, a big fall from first to fifth place, their performance however was not enough to prove that the Tigers were still the kings of the jungle.

Ambush of the bulls

Clad in their black and gold Egyptian-themed uniforms, the Aggie Bullwhippers stood defiantly to make a change from their last place standing in the 2014 cheer dance competition. Starting their routine with the Ateneo chant, the Bullwhippers swung their black batons with neon green ribbons while performing an array of motions. A brief pause, with their batons thrown to the side, marked the beginning of an explosive segment of stunts and throws.

In their charge for the championship, the Bullwhippers controlled the floor with a frenzy of heel stretch pyramids, team scales, bow and arrows, scorpions and arabesques; their flyers’ feet seemed to rarely touch the ground as their dismounts transitioned into another stunt. The Bullwhippers’ dynamic routine held non-stop action, even during their section of motions, as flyers made stunts and flips in the background. The Bullwhippers capped off their ambush when a squad member stole the spotlight with a solo dance routine, later strutting with a gold headdress, seemingly on the way to claim the throne.

Although their routine was branded with impressive stunts, it seemed overworked, resulting in messy floor action. Their charge garnered 72. 68 points, landing them in 4th place.

Ongoing ascent

Dressed in blue and white bodysuits, the Phoenixes held their pompoms as they awaited their chance to redeem themselves from their 5th place standing in last year’s competition. Their routine was off to a weak start when they performed simple motions along with the Ateneo chant. This was later changed when they huddled in the center of the stage before transforming into a flurry of wild movement on the floor. With a series of high kicks and synchronized toe touches, the Phoenixes seemed to rely heavily on their fast-paced movements, as these comprised a great portion of their performance.

Although their stunts were considerably fewer compared to the other colleges, they excelled particularly well in team stunts, especially in a segment of team heel stretches and arabesques. Wobbly flyers dotted the whole performance. However, the squad swiftly recovered with clean throws and dismounts. The Phoenixes matched their high kicks, splits, and motions with each ping of their beat. They closed their performance with a stream of team front flips and partner stunts, later falling to their knees, as a lone flyer performed a scorpion in mid-air.

Carried by their clean execution and well-executed stunts, the Phoenixes garnered 73.12 points, bagging 3rd place.

Greater heights

Proudly showcasing their college in a hitch pyramid, the School of Business and Management (SBM) All-Stars were sent into a plethora of movement after the blow of the whistle. With the male bases leading the forefront in flawless motions and toe touches, the squad kicked off their routine with rapid throws and stunts.

A display of fast arabesques with two or three-man bases became one of All-Stars’ small victories that night. Their successive stream of stunts proved to be too much for a flyer when she suffered a hard fall during a team heel stretch. This only marked one of the mistakes of the All-Stars as they tried to regain their gusto. Nonetheless, they made up for their faults with energetic motions and backflips while a lone flyer did a toe touch toss in the background.

Although minor hiccups occurred during the performance with yet another flyer losing her footing in a hitch pyramid, the All-Stars shouldered on, unperturbed. In a fast-paced rendition of “Burnin’ Up”, the squad’s energy was seemingly renewed by a costume change “an additional tribal skirt and white mask”and a dynamic dance routine. Despite the misses, the SBM All-Stars soared to 2nd place with 77.62 points.

A force to be reckoned with

Previously regarded as the underdogs of the competition, the Wizards have proven themselves to be worthy competitors, gradually bagging top spots year by year. Donning gray uniforms and fuchsia-tipped hair, they blasted their routine with synchronized motions and with what seemed to be an unstoppable force of nature. Waving their yellow and pink pompoms, the Wizards hardly stopped to catch a breath before they effortlessly performed a team cupie. With daring dismounts that gave new meaning to the term “flyer”, their stunts finished off with fearless throws, redone with creative surmounts.

In a twist of events, the Wizards made a sudden costume change, their bases tearing the fabric from their uniforms to reveal a violet and yellow dress, as they followed a salsa-esque dance routine. Dynamic floor action, coupled with Swedish falls pyramids and impressive throws, proved that the Wizards are the team to look out for. As their flyers grooved to salsa both in the air and on the floor, the Wizards were unstoppable in their quest for victory. The routine had an even more iconic ending: a male base was carried to the center, laughing at all who still dared belittle the former underdogs.

With four costume changes and a roaring crowd, Wizards were finally hailed first-time champions with 83.26 points.

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Cheer dancing has proven itself to be a beautifully unpredictable sport. This year’s competition has demonstrated that nothing is constant. Royalties can fall and underdogs can rise when several competitors are hoisted in competition for the top spot.