Confessions of a Cheer Choreographer

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Many coaches and cheer directors try season after season to develop a foolproof formula for success with choreography. Several coaches  learn through trial and error, but with the wealth of information online, there is no need to reinvent the wheel! Here is a quick guide to creating amazing choreography that pops and is a surefire showstopper!

Preparation

Often times we jump right into the choreography. We might see another team do an exciting pyramid sequence and immediately want to replicate it. Other times we hear a new song and think about how cool it would be in a routine. Before you get your heart set on music or choreography elements, first think about these three things:

1) What are my team’s strengths?

2) How can I best show these strengths?

3) Who is my audience?

Once you answer these questions, it will better enable you to have a clear focus when developing the actual choreography and music. You always want to show your team in the best light. Showcase what your team does well instead of pushing for difficulty that may not look perfected. In addition, think about creative ways to present those strengths. If you have a team of powerhouse tumblers, how could you tie in tumbling elements throughout the routine in ways that might entertain the crowd? Keep in mind that you MUST know your audience! If you are attending a competition, your audience are the judges and the actual competition organization. If an organization caters to a specific style of choreography, it would be smart to emulate that style.

Building A Choreography Team  

Once you finish the initial prep work, the production phase moves a lot smoother. Set aside a weekend devoted just for creating the best routine possible! If you have an assistant coach, split the responsibilities up so you aren’t overwhelmed. One coach can focus on stunting elements, while the other can focus on tumbling and motions. Together you can come up with a variety of creative formation transitions. If you are working alone, it might be a good idea to reach out to a fellow coach or even former cheerleaders to assist.

Music is Key

I can’t stress this enough. Music is key! As of late, many routines seem to just show acrobatic exercises set to a background music. Please let’s not forget that cheerleading choreography  is just as much about the performance as it is about the skill. To add a little punch to your routine, add effects AFTER you create the choreography. That way you can emphasize aspects of the choreography such as jumps, stunts, and motions. In addition, you want to make sure your music quality sounds professional. Hire a DJ who is familiar with making cheer mixes. This way you can work with a solid mix and build from there. There are many computer programs available where you can mix music yourself, however mixing music is tedious and your efforts could be better suited for refining your choreography.

Know Your Limits

If you are developing a choreography plan and realize you are in over your head, feel free to contact a competition organization and inquire about choreography services. Top professional choreographers are ready and willing to craft your first place routine! One great thing about working with a professional choreographer is that they will create and teach the routine. This frees you up to focus on tweaking the routine to the strengths of your team. Since industry choreographers often work with several teams, you will want to add your own “style” on top of what the choreographer provides. The last thing you want is to show up to competition (or a game) and have the same choreography as another team!

Success lies in the creation and execution of cheerleading choreography that is the perfect fit for YOUR team. When the choreography is fun and exciting, your team is more likely to enjoy the choreography as well. When your team enjoys what they are performing, chances are they will commit 100% to the routine. Above all, stay flexible and don’t be afraid to constantly refine your choreography until it is pure perfection!

 

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Kristin Dungee

Kristin Dungee is a professional dancer, coach, and choreographer with over 20 years of professional dance, cheerleading, and entertainment industry experience. Kristin is a highly sought after director and choreographer specializing in talent development and training. In addition, she has a BS in Marketing from Florida State University and is currently a NFL Cheerleader as well as a Cheer/Dance Consultant for Game Day Cute.

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