by Latoya Burnham
The music was pulsating and rhythmic; the movements expressive and, in some cases, jaw-dropping. And if there was one thing patrons to the Latin Dance, Cheerleading and Drill Squad Competition left with, it was the knowledge that, from nursery to secondary, there is talent galore in the island’s schools.
The competition came off at the Wildey Gymnasium on Sunday evening to a moderate crowd, with seven primary schools trying to dethrone reigning champs the Belmont Bees, of Belmont Primary.
At the end of the night, the Bees lost their stinger to the green and white-clad Christ Church Girls team, but it was a hard fought loss that also saw St. Catherine’s Primary, dressed too in their signature green and white, placing third.
The Ellerslie Secondary School’s ESS Warriors was the only senior squad in the competition, apart from the National Cheerleading Squad that gave a powerful showcase of lifts and tumbles.
Some routines were more sophisticated than others, and from the time Christ Church Girls hit the specially padded mats laid out for the displays, they stamped themselves as ones to watch. This squad brought the energy and dance moves that one could clearly see how they made it to the top.
But when the Belmont Bees flew in, performing in the last spot of the night, their chants and the abundance of attitude said they would give the girls a fight. They too had a solid and professional looking presentation that would have indeed left the judges with much food for thought.
So too did the St. Catherine girls. There were hoola-hoops, splits and enviable tumbles executed with energy and panache. Other teams that also performed creditably were the Ellerton Primary, the Vauxhall Tigers, Cuthbert Moore, Deacons, and the Lawrence T Gay Cheetahs.
High praise however must go to the only nursery school in the competition, the Government Hill Nursery.
It was a segment that was plagued by technical difficulties that saw the youngest competitors having to leave the stage and return again to perform their routine. Dressed in yellow and blue they dragged the crowd screaming from their seats as they performed to Beyonce and Rihanna hits, ending the performance with splits down to the ground that had adults and even the primary school competitors jumping and shouting their applause. The little ones simply left the stage waving and smiling.
It would have been great to see more secondary teams in the competition, though the ESS Warriors brought a presentation worthy of note. Only formed two months ago, the girls and guys of the Ellerslie squad bought fiery dance moves, high and beautifully executed tumbles and flips, and pyramids that would have been a great challenge for any other teams that had entered the competition.
The cheerleading segment was concluded by the national team who, dressed in black, showed the crowd how it is supposed to be done, with more tumbles and pyramid formations than had been seen before, though the dancing was kept to a minimum.
In all, it was a night to talk about long after it had ended and if the competition gets any bigger, the National Sports Council may need to just hold a national cheerleading competition all on its own.