Friday, May 24, 2013

Overview of Stomp & Shake Cheerleading (Part III)

Edited by Azizi Powell

[Latest Revision- June 27, 2017]

This is Part III of a three part series that compares three different but closely related African American originated performance movement arts: historically Black fraternities & sororities steppin (stepping); foot stomping [cheers]; and stomp & shake cheerleading.

Part III of this series provides an overview of stomp & shake cheerleading.

Part I provides an overview of historically Black (African American) Greek lettered fraternities & sororities. Click for Part I of this series.

Part II provides an overview of foot stomping cheers. Click and for this information and examples of foot stomping cheers.

The content of this post is presented for folkloric, cultural, entertainment, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

"Stomp & Shake" cheerleading is a referent for a relatively new form of African American originated style of cheerleading.

Stomp & shake cheerleading focuses on the group performance of choreographed percussive, rhythmic foot stomping, (individual) hand clapping, leg lifts, and African American/Caribbean originated dance moves. These body movements are often but not always accompanied by the cheer squad's performance of self-bragging and/or competitor insulting unison chanting. Although most stomp & shake cheerleaders are female, a few males also are members of certain (usually university) stomp & shake squads. This particularly appears to be the case among university cheerleading squads that perform stomp & shake cheerleading and mainstream ("traditional") cheerleading.

Like mainstream cheerleading, the purpose of the cheer squad is to increase the enthusiasm of event attendees. However, the focus of stomp and shake cheer squads' performances and their textual (word) cheers are on the cheer squad itself, and not nearly as much as mainstream cheerleading on the football (or basketball) athletic team. Stomp & Shake is a relatively new form of cheerleading.

The earliest documentation that I've found for stomp &shake cheerleading is the early to mid 1970s at Virginia State University's cheerleading squad (the "Woo Woos) and in the late 1970s at Winston-Salem State University cheerleading squads (known as "Cheer Phi" and later as "the Red Team" and the "White Team").

Here are some quotes that I've found about the early history of stomp & shake cheerleading:
A Not-So-Brief and Extremely Sordid History of Cheerleading —By Julia Lurie
Mon Dec. 15, 2014 6:15 AM EST
..."As schools continue to integrate, one factor adding to tension is the difference in cheerleading styles between black and white schools: As Lou Lillard, a black cheerleader named All-American in 1972, explained, "The type of cheering at black high schools is…more of a stomp-clap, soul-swing...At [white] schools, the traditional cheers are straight-arm motions."
Since I first published this post I learned that Dr. Paulette Johnson began coaching for Virginia State University's Woo Woos cheerleaders in 1974, and coached that squad for 35 1/2 years.

I also learned that Debra [Deborah] L. Rivers initiated the stomp & shake style of cheerleading at Winston Salem State University when she began coaching that cheerleading squad in 1976. She was WSSU's cheerleading coach for 17 years.

I believe that it's significant that that same time period (the early to mid 1970s and the early 1980) in the Washington D.C. area which is geographically continuous with Virginia, is documented as the time period and geographical location for the beginning development of or the increased popularization of historically Black university's Greek letter fraternity and sorority stepping, as well as the earliest time period and one of the earliest documented geographical sites* for one of the earliest sites for the African American originated (mostly girls 5-12 year old) sub-set of cheerleading that I refer to as "foot stomping cheers".

*Ironically, the earliest dated "foot stomping cheer" example that I've collected, was from an online communication with an unknown White woman who resided/resides in my former hometown of Atlantic City, New Jersey (early 1970s, from her memory of White, Black, and Latina high school girls).

Stomp & Shake cheerleading has vehement supporters who love the creativity, innovation, skill, showmanship, "hardness" and "for realness" (according to Black cultural criteria) of this type of cheerleading. However, stomp & shake cheerleading also has vehement detractors who don't consider it to be "real cheerleading", but a form of fraternity/sorority stepping and/or cheer dancing. Stomp & cheer detractors also routinely negatively label stomp & shake cheerleading and its (almost exclusively) Black female squad members as being "ghetto" (behaving and dressing in ways that are unacceptable in middle class standards, particularly to behave and dress in sexually provocative ("slutty) ways, and behaving in loud and overly aggressive confrontational ways.

Stomp & shake cheerleading differs from mainstream (traditional) cheerleading in that its cheers/chants often focus on the cheerleading squad itself and not on the athletes, the game being played, or the audience watching the game.

The facial expressions and persona of stomp & cheer cheerleaders are often diametrically the opposite of the perky, always smiling mainstream cheerleader, particularly when it comes to stomp and shake "battle cheers". "Battle cheers" are chanted to big up (brag about) your athletic team and/or your cheerleading squad, and to put down (diss) your competitor's cheerleading squad.

The term "battle cheers" refers both the type of stomp & shake cheers and the purpose for those cheers. "Battle cheers" are chanted by two opposing cheerleading squads prior to a competitive football game or during a "battle cheer" competition. During a battle cheer each cheerleading squad performs self-bragging cheers and group insulting cheers as a way of rattling the confidence of their competitors and as a way of determining which squad is the most successful in getting their fans "hyped" (according to crowd reactions). These cheer activities can are similar to face to face Dozens competitions and Rap competitions, except that improvisation and free styling are key elements in Dozens & Rap competitions, but isn't an element of (or is a much reduced element of) stomp & cheer battle cheers.

It's important to remember that drama (role playing) is an important part of chanting insult/bragging stomp & shake cheers. The cheer performance fails if the cheerleader doesn't act as if she is confident, strong, assertive, and unafraid of the members of the rival cheerleading squad.

According to online discussion threads about this topic, university stomp & shake squads who perform stomp & shake cheers that are associated with another university squad are looked down upon for lacking originality. Those university level cheerleading squads and high school, middle school etc. squads that perform other cheerleaders' cheers/chants are often accused of "stealing". However, thanks to the internet and YouTube in particular, certain stomp & shake cheers & their routines have become part of the cheer repertoire of high school, middle school, and elementary school cheerleading squads.

Since this post was first published in 2013, I've noted that stomp & shake cheers are sometimes referred to (in YouTube video discussion threads) as "stomp chants" or "stomp cheers".

"Upstomps" is a signature movement that is performed by female and male members of some stomp and shake squads where the cheerleaders stomp two times with their left foot and perform a knee lift (raise the right leg bent at the knee). In the videos I've watched of upstomping, the toes are usually pointed to the ground. In some stomp and shake squads the knee is bent at a slight angle toward the right.

It's likely that this stomp and shake movement came from the African American originated high step marching of show style marching bands. High step marching also includes knee lifts.

Another stomp & shake movement that female cheerleaders perform is called "jiggapops". "Jiggapops" are a rhythmical, fast double shake of their hips that is best shown off when the cheerleaders wear pleated cheerleader skirts.

Most stomp and shake squads are females only. When males are also members of those squads, they don't shake as much as the females.

Here's a quote from a 2014 version of a CIAA page that refers to "upstomps", "jiggapops", and some other stomp and shake movements:
"The CIAA cheering squads practice Stomp 'N Shake that incorporates voice, gymnastics, and dance. Over the past few decades, S-N-S has evolved into a more technical style, priding itself on precision, accuracy, and creativity. Included in this style are the techniques of up-stomp, up-step, down-stomp, kick, side-kick, roll, roll-break, power-arms, slpaz-hand, clasp, blade, and the shakes(car-wash shake, single shake, double shake, hit-shake, and jiggle-pop). CIAA Cheerleading is most known for its cheer battles. This is where squads battle each other during games verbally with chants. It provides a heightened level of excitement and competition to the sports they are cheering for. It showcases cheerleading in a different dimension. Only in this style can you excite the crowd, rally them to cheer on the team, cheer on the team and slay your opponent all at the same time."
* retrieved on February 5, 2014 [This paragraph isn’t included in that Wikipedia page as of 9/14/2016.
No descriptions of those movements were given on that page. While I've found one description of "upstomps" online, to date I've not come across any descriptions of these other movements.

Here's information about the CIAA:
"The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) is a collegiate athletic conference, mostly consisting of historically black colleges and universities. CIAA institutions are affiliated at the Division II level of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
Conference members are primarily located in North Carolina (eight) and Virginia (two). There is also one school from Maryland and another from Pennsylvania"...
Stomp & shake cheer routines may also include some body patting. In some YouTube videos of high school stomp and shake squads, the squad members perform the entire cheer while seated in gym bleachers.

The above mentioned movements are done while the squad is reciting cheers. These cheers are usually introduced by one squad members, who says the name of the cheer and may do a brief cheer motion. Unlike foot stomping cheers, stomp chants are they are unison cheers. Also, many stomp & shake cheers are similar in tone-but not in structure-to the insult/bragging foot stomping cheers. However, stomp & shake cheerleaders may also perform their routines to recorded music.

Here's a video of a widely replicated "battle cheer":

Howard University Bison Cheerleaders 2

CoachSpence, Uploaded on Oct 19, 2006

Howard University Battle Cheer "Sit Back Down"

Example #1: The World Renown Woo Woos of Virginia State University

GoTrojans·Uploaded on Sep 30, 2010

2009 Freedom Classic
January 2009
Richmond, VA

Example #2: WSSU Red Team Cheerleaders NC Stomp & Shake Competition

Kiaerica Krishelle, Published on Feb 23, 2013

WSSU opening up the show at the FIRST annual Stomp n Shake cheerleading competition on Saturday 2/23/2013
The way the cheerleaders held their hands when they eentered the gym reminds me of the way that the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc step teams perform their signature cheer "It's A Serious Matter". That post and other sorority & fraternity posts can be found on pancocojams by clicking the "steppin" or "fraternity and sorority chants" tags.


SASSY (We Shake The Best)

woowooworkit·Uploaded on Feb 17, 2007

JV And Varsity SASSY cheerleaders cheer at the last game against bluestone
The words to each of this cheer and other pre-university cheerleader cheers, including several stomp & shake cheers are found on this page of my cocojams website:

Click for a post on stomp & shake cheerleading that I wrote which was published on the sociological images blog.

This concludes Part III of this series.

Thanks to the composers of these cheers and the performers of these featured stomp & shake cheer routines. Thanks also to the publishers of these videos on YouTube.

Thanks for visiting pancocojams.

Visitor comments are welcome.

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