Updated: Apr 2, 2019
by Triana Kaige
AS A CHOREOGRAPHER OUR JOB IS TO CREATE THE MOST EXCITING AND VISUALLY APPEALING ROUTINE FOR OUR CLIENTS AS POSSIBLE. THERE IS A BUG EMPHASIS NOWADAYS ON HOW CREATIVE YOUR ROUTINE IS. HERE ARE A FEW TIPS TO TRY WITH YOUR SQUAD AT PRACTICE PRIOR TO YOUR CHOREOGRAPHY CAMP TO ENSURE THE SMOOTHEST AND MOST EFFICIENT CHOREOGRAPHY CAMP POSSIBLE.
1. Seat Rolls and Cartwheels: Teach seat rolls and cartwheels to both sides. Choreographers waste a lot of time with basic transitional skills like seat rolls also known as "side rolls" or "pig rolls". Also teaching cartwheels to both sides not only gives you a fun simple visual but teaches the athletes more about body control and coordination as well.
2. Basket Tosses: Teach bases to base both sides of a basket toss. A basket grip for bases DOES NOT change on either side nor do the duties each base has. When creating a routine the choreographer will choose who is going to work best for the group with the easiest and quickest path to the group. So although that athlete might not be option #1 for that basket group or used to that side of basing the athlete should be able to adapt to create the smoothest possible transition.
3. Add motions to skills: While going through jumps or tumbling at practice add a few motions before/after that skill. This will help teach them to move quickly in and out of skills prior to choreography camp as well as starting to teach them how to pick up choreography.
4. Group tumbling in all directions: When tumbling at practice, play with different formations and directions. Have them tumble in group of 5 or more front to back, side to side, etc. Some athletes tend to be scared in big groups. Train their timing and spacing prior to camp to avoid fear issues and allow the routine to reach its full potential. The bigger the groups the better so they are prepared for anything when the choreographer gets there.
5. Round off skills vs Round off BHS skills: For levels 3-5 during running tumbling make sure to work round off skills (round off tucks, round off layouts, etc.) as well as round off back handspring skills. This gives the choreographer the ability to do fun pick ups in running tumbling or use it for visual transitions.This also helps improve their air awareness and body control.
6. Acro skills: If it is not part of your usual tumbling warm up spend a practice to find out who has useful acro skills such as aerials and back extension rolls. Front handsprings and front walkers from the majority if not from the whole team would be ideal. They are very popular and visual tumbling transitions that most athletes can pick up quick.
7. Team Bonding: Since choreography is held within the first couple months of the season athletes usually havent fully opened up and let their personalities shine. Consider holding a team bonding of some sort to allow them to show their style outside of the gym. Try lazer tag or hold a field day at a local park where they can get to know each other while still teaching them team support and unity. We don't always like others as team mates but opening their eyes to each other as regular human beings can help create that sibling bond that we all strive our teams to have. This helps avoid potential jealously issues at choreography when athletes are placed in certain spots in the formation.
8. Name Tags: Choreographers travel around the country and even the world working with hundreds of cheerleaders! Trying to remember everyones name, although possible, is a very difficult task. Help them out and make tye&dye shirt name tags or head band name tags for them to wear at choreography camp. GET CREATIVE! This is something you can do at your team bonding or at the end of a tough summer practice! Popsicles with arts and crafts, the kids will love it!
9. Jumps: Play with different variations of jump combinations. Try moving formations during the jump sequence as well as turning different directions. Also work on landing jumps on their knees or in a split. Exposing your athletes to all these varieties of jumps eliminates the extra time it takes athletes to try them and perfect them at choreography camp.
10. Obstacles: Have athletes jump over obstacles or other teammates and tumble/jump out of it to avoid fear issues when attempting fun and exciting transitional skills. Once again GET CREATIVE WITH IT! Don't be afraid to fail. The best ideas sometimes come from other people's mistakes. Who knows? You might just come up with that "WOW" move that makes your team stand out!
ROUTINES HAVE BECOME FASTER AND MORE INTRICATE AS CHEERLEADING CONTINUES TO GROW. USE THESE TIPS TO MENTALLY AND PHYSICALLY PREPARE YOUR SQUAD/PROGRAM FOR CHOREOGRAPHY CAMP AND HELP THE CHOREOGRAPHER WORK THEIR MAGIC! DONT FORGET TO HAVE FUN! WE LOVE WHAT WE DO, YOU SHOULD TOO!
About Triana Rhea
Triana is an INTENSITY™ Master Trainer has been doing choreography for 12 years, having cheered and danced at Top Gun from 2003-2010. She has coached at Top Gun, University Cheer Air Force, Rocket Elite and Just Cheer. Triana has choreographed for multiple programs world wide including countries like Sweden, Costa Rica, UK, Chile, Canada, and United States.