Dance, cheer teams prepare for homecoming

During Homecoming Week in October, hundreds of students, dressed in their respective class colors and themes, come together to cheer on their classes, waving big banners and shouting encouragement to their representatives. The cheer and dance teams are central to the homecoming celebrations, performing at the Night Rally and the Homecoming football game.

The dance team is busy preparing three different songs and choreographies for the various events. They have already chosen their songs, but are still in the process of choreographing their dances.

Due to the work and the time constraint, the dance team has started morning practices once a week in addition to their after school practices that occur twice a week.

Dance Captain senior Madison Yue explains the process of choosing arrangements to perform. “We always choreograph it individually or collaborate together,” she said. “We all have our individual strengths, but we’re coming together to choreograph one piece.”

There are both highs and lows in this process. Yue describes the dynamics of the team. “The highlights so far are getting to know each other and really bonding together,” she said. “I think our team is really close, which helps when we perform; we have a lot of camaraderie.”

The dance team faces a specific challenge: prioritizing. “One of the challenges we have is knowing what to prioritize as a team,” Yue said. “We have a lot of dances coming up in the next month or two so we have to know what to prioritize and what not to.”

Despite the challenges that accompany it, the team is looking forward to the season ahead. Specifically, Yue is excited to compete again. “Last year, we didn’t get to attend any competitions because of COVID,” she said. “This year, I’m hoping we can attend Nationals in February and compete together as a team, whether it’s virtual or in-person competitions.”

Aside from competitions, the team is focused on improving their performances during spirit events. “When we perform, we want to come with a lot of spirit and a lot of energy,” Yue said. “We want others to experience that same passion and love we have for dance when they’re watching us. I think we always strive as a team to engage with the audience and show our spirit.”

Similar to the dance team, the cheer team has been amping up their training in preparation for competitions. Cheer Captain senior Eva Antonio shares the preparation process for the cheer team. “We usually use some of our competition routines [for homecoming], but we change it a little because competition music is very niche and specific to cheer,” she said. “We change it to trendier songs and add more dance segments, especially hip hop styles and things that can get the crowd engaged.”

Antonio is looking forward to performing during homecoming. “This year, I’m really excited for [the] Night Rally,” she said. “It’s always been my favorite thing about homecoming; you can feel the energy when you’re there and everyone’s really hyped up and excited.”

Antonio is also proud of the unity amongst the team. “The [cheer] team is really big so we have a really strong sense of community,” she said. “There are a lot of new members and I think we’ve done a good job welcoming them in.” However, having a big team can also be difficult to manage. To hold themselves accountable when they get distracted, the team does conditioning and core exercises instead of their usual practice routines. “Since our team is pretty big, it’s harder to get everyone on the same page,” Antonio said. “During practices, there’s often more talking and people being distracted than in past years.”

This year, Antonio wants to show the two sides of the cheer team. “We want to show that we can have fun but [that] we’re also talented and [should be] taken seriously,” she said. “Gunn cheer in the past hasn’t been super serious; they only did sideline at competitions. Now, since we’re a competition team, we want to put forth that we work really hard but we also play hard and have fun in our routines.”