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Top>HAKUMON Chuo [2014 Early Spring Issue]>[All Japan Cheer Dance Championship, Pom Section] Garnet Girls Win Straight Victory

Hakumon CHUOIndex

All Japan Cheer Dance Championship, Pom Section

Garnet Girls Win Straight Victory

Magnificent performance defeating top university teams

The Chuo University Song Leading Club (nicknamed the Garnet Girls, or GG), a popular cheer dance group, won back-to-back championships at the POM section (University Teams) of the All Japan Cheer Dance Championship. Their performance reached another level compared to the Kanto Preliminaries held a week earlier, surpassing many other strong university teams en route to victory.

The All Japan Cheer Dance Championship 2013 was held last December 7 in front of a packed crowd at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium in Sendagaya, Tokyo. Finishing in first place at the Kanto Preliminaries (Makuhari Messe, Chiba City) held on November 30, the GG were the last team to perform at the POM section at the finals.

Their performance started at 2:46pm. “Let’s give all we can,” vowed leader Maiko Nakamura (2nd year, Faculty of Commerce) when expressing the team’s mindset. “Just like our seniors, we want to make it to the victory show. They told us that the victory show is a real blast!”

The victory show competes for the Grand Prize featuring winning teams from each section.

Similar to when competing in the preliminaries, the GG showed great energy during their 2-minute and 6-second finals performance (required performance time is between 2 minutes and 2 minutes 30 seconds).

The girls displayed a series of highly-refined dance moves such as fouette turns, a scorpion pose which involves lifting one’s foot to the back of the head, and the toe touch in which the girls jump up into splits and touch their toes. The sight of the entire team executing a sequence of fouette turns was overwhelming.

They turn gracefully and jump high. They perform many dance moves which test the limits of flexibility. All of the girls move elegantly and wear bright smiles.

The line dance in the second half of their performance was a sight to behold. Each one of the girls kick up their knees and point their toes, while the entire team aligns their movement from side to side. The enjoyment felt from dancing was shown through their radiant smiles, high kicks and pointed toes.

The audience is tempted to spread their arms and dance like them.

The performance ended and the GG flashed smiles of satisfaction. They are overcome with great happiness in fulfilling a highly skilled performance that was made possible from their daily effort.

Highly Rated

During a television commentary (B.S. Japan; TV Tokyo Network, broadcast on December 14, 2013), the Chuo University team was praised by Chiyo Maeda, Director of the Japan Cheer Dance Association.

“They are a very powerful team,” said Maeda. “Their moves are filled with speed and they look great. You can see how they use every inch of their bodies. Their choreography and composition enthrall the audience. The position of their legs is beautiful during fouette turns and they kick very high during the line dance, so much that their legs almost touch their faces.”

The GG had left the performance floor and moved to the athlete seats on the second floor. Afterwards, they watched and cheered on the performances of the other 18 teams in 2 sections including the Cheer Dance section.

The cheer dance teams all cheer for each other. The results are announced after all performances are completed. Family members and other fans wait impatiently for the announcement.

At 5:20 p.m., an announcement was made over the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium’s PA system.

“The awards ceremony will now be held.”

Athletes from each school gathered on the gymnasium floor. While sitting on the floor with their knees tucked in front of them, the athletes began to pound the floor with both hands to produce a drum-like effect that was the background music for the ceremony. The sound enlivened the announcement of winners in each section. All of the Garnet Girls pounded the floor with their hands.

“We will now announce results for the University Teams POM section.”

The time was 5:24 p.m. The Garnet Girls’ hands stopped moving. All the girls bowed their heads and waited quietly for the moment of truth.

“And the winner is…the Chuo University Song Leading Club!”

Club leader Maiko Nakamura stood up and raised her left hand enthusiastically. Next to her, assistant leaders Emi Okazaki (2nd year, Faculty of Letters) and Risako Kumazawa (2nd year, Faculty of Law) hugged each other in joy. The younger girls jumped into the embrace of Shiori Hamura (4th year, Faculty of Policy Studies). Some girls were left speechless, simply hugging each other strongly in jubilance, while other girls jumped up and down in excitement.

The girls did everything to improve their 2-minute and 6-second performance. During difficult and trying times, they quietly gritted their teeth and persevered. Victory was a moment for them to be proud of their faith in each other and their tireless effort.

Some of the girls were still crying with their cheeks soaked with tears. Their beautiful performance makeup was ruined…but that is a small price for crying tears of happiness.

Astonishing Final Scores

The final scores were revealed.

Chuo University
87.50 (preliminaries: 84.83)
J. F. Oberlin University
85.50 (preliminaries: 84.50)

“We really out-distanced the competition,” muttered surprised participants from Chuo University.

During the Kanto Preliminaries, Chuo University defeated its powerful rivals by only the thinnest of margins. Other universities had strong teams capable of high-level performances.

“The other teams are better than us,” said the GG after the preliminaries. “We won by just a small margin. It was nerve-wracking.” When these sentiments were expressed by some of the girls, their teammates grew taciturn. Concern at the power of their rivals overshadowed the joy of proceeding to the championship. “We have to practice hard during the next week,” vowed the GG, who left the competition ground wearing a look of determination.

At the championships held one week later, the thin margin of 0.33 increased to a full 2 points. It was a bold victory by the GG, who succeeded in widely surpassing powerful rivals who had been closing in.

The championships concluded with a victory show featuring winning teams from each section. Athletes from teams who had narrowly missed the victory sat in 3 corners of the gymnasium floor. They stared intently at the victory show with their eyes filled with envy and the desire to win next year’s championship.

The Garnet Girls danced, jumped and spun with even brighter smiles. Although they performed as intensely as always, the judges put down their pens for keeping score and clapped along. Everyone enjoyed the performance.

After performing in the victory show, the GG returned to the waiting space. Waiting for them were the Fairies, a team from Chuo University High School at Koganei which had won the POM section show.

Eriko Maruta, Chief Judge for the championships and member of the Japan Cheer Dance Association, gave a commenting speech.

“I’m sure that the team overcame many hardships on the road to victory,” said Maruta while praising the athletes and club officials. “Your performance was filled with the splendor of dance based on trust among club members.”

The championships was over. The moon had risen over the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium, shining radiantly in the clear winter sky. A meeting by the Garnet Girls began under the moonlight.

“Our costumes will change from next year. We’ve got to improve our performing ability and expressiveness—we don’t want people to say that our costumes are the only thing that changed!” Coach Mari Murata came to offer her congratulations. Her voice was worn out from cheering and shouting instructions.

The end of the championship is simply the beginning of the next challenge. The Garnet Girls will have to fight to win their 3rd consecutive championship. It is said that winning back-to-back championships is more difficult than winning the first time. The girls have started on the tough road to a three-peat.

Chuo University Song Leading Club
Maiko Nakamura 2nd year student, Faculty of Commerce (Leader)
Emi Okazaki 2nd year student, Faculty of Letters (Assistant leader)
Risako Kumazawa 2nd year student, Faculty of Law (Assistant leader)
Shiori Hamura 4th year student, Faculty of Policy Studies (Former leader)
Yuka Uesugi 2nd year student, Faculty of Law (Acoustic)
Saki Ueno 2nd year student, Faculty of Economics (Gymnasium)
Natsumi Oshima 2nd year student, Faculty of Law (Accounting)
Mariko Otsuki 2nd year student, Faculty of Law (Costumes)
Misuzu Koito 2nd year student, Faculty of Policy Studies (C Square)
Seika Kokubun 2nd year student, Faculty of Letters (Gymnasium)
Midori Nomura 2nd year student, Faculty of Commerce (Costumes)
Sawa Hino 2nd year student, Faculty of Economics (Video)
Nozomi Fukase 2nd year student, Faculty of Law (C Square)
Yuka Yoshino 2nd year student, Faculty of Commerce (Health)
Mikako Usui 1st year student, Faculty of Economics
Hanaka Okayama 1st year student, Faculty of Economics
Reika Kobayashi 1st year student, Faculty of Policy Studies
Rina Kan 1st year student, Faculty of Commerce
Moe Shiiki 1st year student, Faculty of Law
Rikako Shinohara 1st year student, Faculty of Economics
Misa Niizawa 1st year student, Faculty of Policy Studies
Kyoko Takasuga 1st year student, Faculty of Policy Studies
Ayumi Bashou 1st year student, Faculty of Commerce
Natsumi Hosokawa 1st year student, Faculty of Policy Studies
Ikumi Maejima 1st year student, Faculty of Commerce
Ayana Yamazaki 1st year student, Faculty of Letters
Keiko Watanabe 1st year student, Faculty of Economics

So Many Flowers

Shiori Hamura Leaves the Club After Consecutive Victory

At about 7:30 p.m. on December 7, 2013, Shiori Hamura (4th year, Faculty of Policy Studies) stood smilingly in the plaza in front of the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium. Her arms were full of flowers received in commemoration of her leaving the Chuo University Song Leading Club (nicknamed the Garnet Girls, or GG).

Until the very end, Hamura put her full effort into cheer dance, helping the team to win back-to-back victories in the POM section (University Teams) of the All Japan Cheer Dance Championships. Hamura was the only 4th-year student on the team. She received flower bouquets expressing congratulations and gratitude from her younger teammates and from Chuo graduates who were once members of the club.

“I’m overjoyed to receive so many flowers,” said Hamura. “I’m so grateful to everyone. I definitely made the right decision to continue cheer dancing.”

Hamura’s face was beaming. Her gentle expression had always been a source of comfort to younger dancers.

Earlier that day, after the GG had finished performing in the finals and moved to the second floor waiting space, Hamura gently rubbed the back of a younger teammate. The girl had suddenly become ill prior to the performance, but had endured and fulfilled her role in the dance.

Memorable moment with Hamura
From left, Okazaki, Kumazawa, Hamura, Nakamura

As a 4th-year student, Hamura was depended on by her teammates.

“I enjoy being with my younger teammates,” says Hamura. “When I was a 3rd-year student, I was called a “2.5-year student” because I always hung out with 2nd-year students. Even today, I am curious about what interests and motivates 1st-year students.”

In the past, Hamura had served as the team’s 3rd leader. It is customary for the girls to leave the club once they become 3rd-year students, a course of action followed by all of Hamura’s classmates.

Hamura was the only older student who decided to remain in the club. “My family was surprised at my decision to continue,” reveals Hamura. In addition to her regular classes, Hamura had started taking a teacher-training course from her 2nd year.

“Sometimes, I had 5 practices a week, which overlapped with all of my other plans,” recalls Hamura. “I was so tired that I just wanted to collapse on the sofa in the living room and go to sleep when I got home.”

Hamura’s parents realized how hard their daughter was working. Although her love for cheer dance was one reason that spurred Hamura to continue, she also wanted to pass on the history of the Song Leading Club which had been founded in 2008.

“Our first leader continued to take part in the club until about November of her senior year,” explains Hamura. “I really looked up to that leader as a freshman. When I saw how hard she worked for the club, I wanted to be just like her.”

When deciding to continue cheer dancing, Hamura made the following promise to herself.

“I will entrust the team to the younger leaders and will not interfere with their decisions.”

In addition to her role of working as a single member to improve the club’s dance ability, Hamura subtlety helped in any areas which may have been overlooked by the leaders.

“When I first entered the club, we only practiced twice a week. That increased to 5 times a week before competitions. It was more relaxed than now.”

New costumes

As the level of competition became higher, the Garnet Girls were required to further refine their dance techniques and skills. Hamura provided consultation and listened to the problems of club members who were lagging behind in terms of technique.

“When 1st-year members come to me that they cannot dance a certain way, I would ask them to demonstrate the techniques and would then dance together with them, fixing any problems. Getting upset is not the solution. There is always a reason why they are stuck, and by understanding the reason behind it, progress can be made.”

To the younger club members, Hamura always appears to be cool and calm. She was sometimes asked for advice on how to maintain themselves at stressful times.

Among younger students Hamura took care of, some were also involved in a committee to promote consecutive victories. Every day, she interacted with younger club members and worked to create an atmosphere of camaraderie.

Hamura acquired a teaching license for teaching sociology to junior high school and high school students. “I learned a lot while acquiring my license. Teachers should have a sense of humor. Classes should have a sense of rhythm instead of being flat and monotone. I applied what I learned to my activities in the Song Leading Club.”

As expected, Hamura is a skilled speaker. She is also a good listener who creates an atmosphere to encourage communication.

“To the freshmen, I would like to say that now is your chance to use your time freely. In and after the 2nd year, I expect you to take care of the younger club members and spend your time helping them. Of course, I was told the same thing by my senior club members.”

The tradition of the Garnet Girls will carry on even after Hamura leaves the club.

Moving closer to the Florida competitions

On February 2, the Garnet Girls competed in the USA Regionals in Tokyo at the Komazawa Gymnasium in Tokyo. The competition featured cheerleading and dance teams from throughout Japan. The GG passed the preliminaries in the University Open Category, earning the right to compete in the USA* Nationals in Japan held from March 27 to 30 at Makuhari Messe in Chiba City. A strong performance at the nationals will allow the team to compete in the 2014 World Cheerleading Championship which will be held in April at Disney World in Florida.

The GG performance at the USA* Regionals in Tokyo took place towards the end of the competition before 6:00 p.m. Chuo University fans sitting in the stands were surprised when the girls took the dance floor--the club’s costumes had changed completely. The color had changed from white to black, and the “G” from Garnet Girls was featured prominently in red on the chest. Furthermore, the pom-poms had changed from purple and crimson to pure white. When dancing, the girls were more precise, moved faster and showed power in their every movement. Last year, the GG finished 6th at the World Championship.

*USA refers to the United Spirit Association Japan, an organization which has headquarters in America and holds cheerleading and dance competitions. The All Japan Cheer Dance Championship where the GG won consecutively in December 2013 was held by the Japan Cheer Dance Association. The associations are separate organizations.