UAAP: Animo Squad settles for seventh, NU Pep Squad clinches CDC crown

The UAAP Season 85 Cheerdance Competition witnessed jaw-dropping performances as the jam-packed crowd of over 18,000 people was filled full of thrills and cheers from the eight participating universities earlier today, December 10, at the SM Mall of Asia Arena. Despite an energetic performance from La Salle, the DLSU Animo Squad placed seventh after garnering 528.5 points this year—with their total score dipping from last year’s previous output of 567.5 points.

The NU Pep Squad retook their spot as kings and queens of collegiate cheer dancing by claiming their seventh title in nine years—proving themselves to be a cut above the rest with 723 points. Meanwhile, the FEU Cheering Squad and UST Salinggawi Dance Troupe placed first and second runners-up as they bagged 719 and 640 points, respectively.

Kicking off an electric lineup of performances, the AdU Pep Squad ignited the hard court with a routine inspired by Jennifer Lopez’s hits, while executing stellar flips and catches to impress the crowd with their coordinated stunts. 

Following the team from Ermita was the UE Pep Squad, whose enchanting P-pop remix beautifully exuded passion and love for local music. Their array of various jumps, mid-air catches, and dazzling costume changes entranced the crowd to show improvement from their previous year’s performance. 

Sporting vibrant green hair, the UST Salinggawi Dance Troupe was third to perform as they enchanted the stage with a Lady Gaga-themed performance. The España-based stars showcased a fusion of modern choreographic moves and acrobatic stunts accompanied by eye-catching props to solidify their near-perfect finish.

The fourth team to perform was the DLSU Animo Squad as they grooved to the music of one of the biggest pop icons, Janet Jackson. The Green and White showcased a clean routine that heavily involved funky footwork. Showing off months of hard work, the squad was able to execute synchronized lifts and pyramids in time with Jackson’s biggest hits, including her historic 2001 single, “All for You”. Despite a stellar showcase, DLSU was again outperformed by other squads and was unable to secure a podium finish, clinching seventh place. Animo Squad team captain Lance Lacsamana gave his team their well-deserved praises for their internal growth and dedication to the competition. “I’m so proud of this team. We were different from who we were a few months ago,” shared Lacsamana in the post-performance interview.

ADMU’s Blue Babble Battalion unleashed their inner beast next by delivering a powerful Black Panther-themed routine. Ateneo’s outfits were inspired by the Marvel superhero’s suit, while their props included a handcrafted spear that later turned into kites. However, errors in lifts and pyramids reduced the impact of some critical parts of the performance and landed them in last place.

In hopes of defending their crown from last season, the FEU Cheering Squad delivered a patriotic routine for the night’s sixth performance. Wearing the colors of the Philippine flag and featuring one dancer in a barong tagalog, the squad performed to songs from the late Francis Magalona, who is hailed as one of the founding fathers of the local hip-hop scene. This choice of music came with a peace sign formation, aligning with the themes which the Filipino rapper advocated. Despite failing to complete some pyramid formations, FEU finished strong, receiving a huge applause from all over the arena after their performance.

After finishing as second runner-up last season, the NU Pep Squad successfully reclaimed the UAAP Cheerdance crown and brought back glory to Sampaloc with a retro aerobics-themed performance. NU wowed the crowd with a breathtaking performance, as eye-catching as their neon costumes and bright props. They further proved their great physique and conditioning after nailing their tosses, pyramids, and choreography.  

Keeping up with the crowd’s momentum, the UP Pep Squad hoofed to the beat of their famous “Unibersidad ng Pilipinas cheer to close the competition. Even with faults in their routine, the Katipunan-based squad still made an impact with their Black Eyed Peas-inspired exhibition. “Super nakakaproud talaga magperform di lang sa UP community, pati narin sa [buong] UAAP community,” team captain Triste Noberto asserted. 

(I felt really proud performing not only for the UP community but also the [whole] UAAP community.)

Wrapping up their UAAP Cheerdance Competition campaign in seventh place for the second consecutive year, the DLSU Animo Squad will hope to return to their winning ways next season and secure their first podium finish since their bronze-winning outing in 2013 last UAAP Season 76.

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By Dayne Aduna

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