It’s been four years since I ranked my Top 3 best UP Pep Squad – UAAP Cheerdance routines of all time.
Since then, UP has added three more championship trophies on its mantle, plus one runner-up placement:
- Fiesta – 2010
- Madonna – 2011
- Freedom – 2012
- Party – 2013 (2nd place)
I figured it’s time to update my list. It’s difficult for me to rank just three routines, so I’ll come up with my Top 5 this time.
At number 5 is last year’s Party routine.
It still pains me whenever I watch the many errors in this routine because I know UP could have executed this perfectly. The errors pulled down their scores for a second-place finish despite highly difficult stunts. Still, that’s not bad, given how difficult it is to even land a podium finish these years.
Related post: Dancing in September: UP Pep Squad’s 2013 Party Theme
At number 4 is 2007’s Rock. – This is a refined and effortless-looking performance and it is nothing short of a classic. I especially liked the drums and the progression of the tumbling passes (starts at 2:55) that matched the drama of the audience’s chant. I also think it’s smart how UP changes its school cheer to complement its theme’s routine—and you’ll see another perfect example, when I’ve disclosed my number one choice.
Related post: Top 2 UP Pep Squad routine
Number 3: Madonna
The year was 2011 and UP had just reclaimed the CDC title from FEU the year before. It needed to re-assert its supremacy over the competition—and how it did! No school could—and dare I say, will ever—come close to the creativity and fun factor of this performance. With a near flawless execution, the rest of the schools were left eating UP’s dust.
In terms of style and execution, Madonna would easily be my top-ranked UP routine of all time. However, I thought these next two performances are on a whole different plane due to sheer out-of-the-box thinking and concepts.
Related post: UP Pep Squad 2011: Express Yourself!
Number 2: Freedom
Since UP began having a theme—one that runs throughout the entire performance—the rest of the schools followed. Their choices have almost always been too obvious, that in 2011, two groups had the same idea (India, by Ateneo and FEU; this year, rumors have it that 2-3 schools will be sharing the same theme).
For 2012, UP chose an abstract concept: freedom. I had no idea then how they would manage to pull it off without ostracizing the audience.
By going for an androgynous look, UP demonstrated how liberation from social constraints and construct can empower an individual to be whoever they want to be. The last few seconds of this video, wherein UP embodied all UAAP schools, is pure brilliance—the idea is so original, no other school may repeat it in years to come, or maybe, ever.
Even with the fall in the final seconds of this routine, I knew UP had the trophy in the bag.
And my number one UP routine of all time is,
… still, Tribo. 🙂
(I’m still dreaming there’d eventually be a high-resolution video upload from the audience; studio 23’s camera work always sucks.)
I think this routine changed the face of the UAAP Cheerdance Competition: here, you have a cohesive theme, with an insightful narrative from start to finish. The vignettes—those poses that introduced and closed the performance, the daring costume, the choreography, music, drums, chant, and exit/ending are all so rich in drama and texture. (This was also the year which started UP’s ingenious pompoms.) This is one recipe that’s hard to top.
Related post: The Best UP Pep Squad Routine of All Time
2014: Who To Watch Out For
This year’s competition will be a battle between UP and NU—I’m almost sure about that. ‘Almost’ because you really can’t tell at the end of the day. However, these two schools are coming from a strong 2013 performance and 2014 ‘gigs’: UP competed in Cheerleading World Championships in November, where it placed third behind cheerleading powerhouses Japan and Thailand; and defending UAAP Cheerdance Competition champions NU placed third in the National Cheerdance Championships in March. Also, these schools have had solid coaching and support in the past year, whereas other squads have had to overcome rough challenges. And I think the audience will be in for a number of jaw-dropping moments once these schools perform. 😉
The cat is practically out of the bag as far as UP’s 2014 routine is concerned: it will be campaigning for equality for everyone.
FEU, who’s had a serving of humble pie last year, should remain a contender for Top 3, while DLSU—based on grapevine rumors—will be executing a routine that’s twice as hard as their 2013 performance. Next to UP, I find that DLSU has the cleanest and most refined cheerleading techniques. If they can limit their errors and increase the difficulty of their stunts (and exponentially at that, if they want to catch up to UP and NU), they could lock on that Top 3 spot and prove that their 2013 finish was no fluke and that they are capable of sustaining a podium finish (they placed second in 2011; dropped out of the Top 3 in the following year). Also, I like how DLSU incorporates their themes into their performance (shout out to their Archers and Army themes).
UST is clearly still on a rebuilding stage and I’m happy that they have finally chosen the path to cheerleading greatness by attempting those difficult stunts in last year’s routine. While I feel bad for them every time I watch their 2013 video, it’s good to know they’re finally pushing their limits. Their confidence has been bruised and I imagine they’d have feelings of fear and insecurity once they step on the performance mat, but one silver lining in being at the bottom rankings is that they can go all-out good-crazy in their routine. Aside from upgrading their cheerleading skills, I also hope they break off from, what I’m sensing, is an NCC template (those theme concepts, cheer mixes, voiceover/sound effects, and styling), and think of original ways to create a revived UST Salinggawi brand/trademark.
The 2014 UAAP Cheerdance Competition will be telecast on September 14, 2 p.m., on Studio 23.