Theatre Department Brings High-Flying Cheerleading to the Stage

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Theatre Department Brings High-Flying Cheerleading to the Stage

By Cate Heiner

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This weekend, the theatre department kicks off the 2016-17 season with “Bring It On!“. In preparation for opening night, I recently caught up with Tori Sicklick, assistant choreographer and dance captain for the show.

As dance captain, part of Sicklick’s duties include knowing all of the choreography for the show. “For this particular show, it’s someone who works with Denny [Denny Berry, the show’s director] to create choreography, put it together, and teach it to everyone,” she explained. “Basically it’s like knowing everything that’s going on.” For a show that requires extensive dance moves and stunts, dance captains help create consistency. Sicklick is also involved in starting warm ups with the company if Berry is working with actors.

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Photo Courtesy of the Department of Theatre

“Bring it on!” is an entirely new experience, partially because it’s a very contemporary show, but also because the story centers on the interaction of cheerleaders and dancers. Cheerleading isn’t usually seen in musical theatre productions, but “Bring it On!has brought that cheer movement into performance.

“I’ve done flips and stuff in dance performances, but putting that with singing, and then trying to act, and then being like ‘now I’m getting thrown in the air and flipped upside down, that’s fine, now I’ll do that,’” Sicklick describes. “I mean, it’s crazy, but it’s a lot of fun.”

Photo Courtesy of the Department of Theatre

Photo Courtesy of the Department of Theatre

However, the scale of the stunts and the energy of the show can also make it difficult. “It’s definitely a lot of work,” Sicklick said. “There’s a lot to pay attention to. There’s a lot of elements, especially with adding instruments and we have cheerleaders who are in the show with us.” Though it can be difficult to thread all the music, dance and cheerleading pieces together, the combination makes for an exciting performance.

“Bring it On!” also incorporates a number of styles, which requires that actors and dancers have a wide variety of dance skills. Sicklick described the dance at Truman High as more “jazz” style and preppy, and that it also incorporates pieces of cheerleading. Which includes but is not limited to: high Vs, low Vs, Ks, and cinnamon rolls. “It was fun to learn those, since I would never think to be a cheerleader,” she said. On the other hand, Jackson High is more “down and dirty” hip hop. “Truman is like, ‘we’re cheerleaders, that’s how we identify,’ but Jackson, they’re like ‘we’re dancers,’ and that’s what makes them so different.” These differences are heard in the score, playing up either “pop white girl beat” or “Spanish style” depending on the school, and then reflected in the movement to help differentiate the two.

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Photo Courtesy of the Department of Theatre

The show brings together fun dance beats, energetic choreography and athletic cheerleading stunts. Sicklick hopes the audience takes away the basic moral lesson of the show: “Be yourself! And that kind of thing, but also, respect people, even when they’re different, respect their differences. Also, don’t lie. Just be a good person.”

Bring it On” opens this weekend in the Marriott Center for Dance, and will play through Sept. 25. U students can get in free with their UCards through their ArtsPass component. Tickets can be purchased at the door day-of or in advance at Kingsbury Hall.

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