Features

 

Winning an International Competition through a Powerful Performance and Team Unity

2020.07.02
Garnet Girls Mesmerized the Audience with an Outstanding Routine!
  Winning an International Competition through a Powerful Performance and Team Unity


Songleading Club

 

Garnet Girls from Japan! Congratulations!
The awards ceremony for 2019 USA Collegiate Championships, an international cheerleading competition, was held this February in Anaheim, California (USA). Upon hearing their club’s name called for the first-place award in the Pom 4-Year College Division, the twenty members of the Garnet Girls songleading club could not suppress their jubilation on the stage. Overcome by a sense of joy and achievement, they hugged each other and cried. This brilliant achievement was their first victory at an international competition in two years.
Coach Mari Murata is in charge of choreography and performance composition for the club. According to her explanation, university clubs mainly from the west coast of the United States competed in the championships, as well as other university clubs such as those invited from Japan. The Pom 4-Year College Division is for cheerleading teams from four-year colleges that use oval pom-poms. This was the first time that the Garnet Girls won an international competition since January 2017. It was the first international victory for current members of the team.

Staying calm and dancing as usual, even under pressure

The club’s two-minute routine is set against a mix of up-tempo music. Their dance moves include highlights such as fouettes, a move in which all dancers perform a pirouette and rotate while whipping their raised leg through the air, and chaines toe touches, a maneuver in which a dancer jumps after one rotation and does an airborne split with an angle of 180 degrees or more. “I was satisfied at how we gave our best performances at the championships,” says Kairi Mayuzumi, club captain and a third-year student in the Faculty of Policy Studies. “We performed just as we had practiced.”

Keeping cool and dancing as usual is difficult under pressure. “Not to mention, the floor was slippery and it was our first performance at the venue,” says Misako Kato, a club co-captain and a third-year student in the Faculty of Letters. “I was a bundle of nerves.” Having to perform in another country and different circumstance than usual—it is no wonder that the girls were nervous.
Nevertheless, the Garnet Girls lit up the stage with their dynamic performance. “We were eager to gain respect in America, the home of songleading” said Kairi. According to Kairi, she is usually so focused on dancing that she does not notice reactions from the crowd. However, during the championships, she felt energy from the crowd when performing fouettes. “The way in which audiences react in America is so different from Japan,” Misako also recalls. “I was energized by their shouts of joy and loud cheers.”

The appeal of songleading

“I want the audience to feel the power and unity of our dance,” says Kairi. “Our synchronization is still not perfect, so I am looking to make our performance even better.” Coach Murata also had high praise for the girls—“They overcame the pressure of performing in America and showed the true spirit of the Garnet Girls. Up until the semifinals, I could sense their nervousness. However, during the finals, the crowd erupted at the part of our routine in which the girls rotate in a circle while line dancing. Our high score in composition helped us secure the win.”

Feeling the presence of teammates dancing nearby. Aligning their movements, their spirit, and their very breath. This is the greatest moment for both the dancers and the audience.
“Songleading is more than simply dancing together; the greatest joy comes when we lose ourselves in dance and become one in spirit,” says Kairi when explaining the appeal of songleading.
Songleading

Songleading prohibits acrobatic movements found in cheerleading; for example, moves in which one dancer lifts another dancer onto their shoulders. Songleading combines various elements of dance such as pom-poms dance, hip-hop dance, jazz, and ballet. Routines are scored based on the composition of the two-minute performance, skill of performance, creativity, overall impression, and showmanship (expression and passion).

Garnet Girls, songleading club at Chuo University
The club was founded in 2008 and currently has 39 members. At first, it started as an unofficial student-led activity. The timing of the foundation of the club is when students who had belonged to songleading club in Chuo University Senior High School felt the desire to continue songleading at Chuo University. The students asked Mari Murata, who had been songleading coach in the senior high school, for her support at university. Then, the club was formed and named after the birthstone of coach Murata, garnet. Other universities with strong songleading clubs include J.F. Oberlin University, the Japan Women’s College of Physical Education and more.