Interview with QUT Cheer and Dance – The ScratchThat Scoop

Ailie McLeod

What is QUT Cheer and Dance?

Gretchen Beyer (Club Secretary, member of Titanium Team Level 1/2): It is an extracurricular club. Throughout the year we spend our time preparing for competitions, getting to know each other, and having a good time.

Scarlet Alexander-Bates (Club President, member of Plutonium Team Level 3/4): We provide the opportunity for people who are beginners or experienced athletes to continue on their journey with cheer and dance.


What are the requirements for this club?

Scarlet: You have to be a QUT registered student, but for actually joining a cheer team you just have to be able and willing to learn. Dance is a little bit different as their teams are not beginner based. They do actual auditions.

Rachel Williams (Club Treasurer, member of Plutonium Team Level 3/4): The dance program is competitive and you’re expected to have dance experience.

Gretchen: We have a level one team that’s open to anyone. Everyone who comes to tryouts makes a team. If you have previous experience in gymnastics, acrobatics or obviously cheerleading, then we do have some high-level teams available as well. We only take new people at the start of the year; we don’t do any mid-year intakes unfortunately. However, every new year is a new season and a new opportunity to join.

Scarlet: When we do our tryouts in 2024, if you’re not sure, just come because you’ll love this and then you’ll want to do this forever. That’s what happened to me.

Rachel: It’s not even a tryout; it’s a “let’s try cheer”. Cheerleading sounds scary. People watch cheer on Netflix and they think it’s some crazy thing, but for uni cheer we start from the beginning and it’s a fun environment.


What is your position?

Natarshya Martin (Member of Titanium Team AG Level 1/2): I’m a Secondary Base. So Bases, we hold the Flyer up in the air. It’s really challenging, but personally I find it the most rewarding position because when you stick, it’s “wow I’m actually holding a human being on my hands right now”.

Grace Cole (Member of Titanium Team AG Level 1/2): I am a Main Base. It’s pretty much the same as the other Base; I just have a tad bit more weight. When the stunt goes well, it makes you feel proud of not only yourself, but the rest of your team.

Hollie Pianta (Member of Titanium Team AG Level 1/2): I’m a Secondary Base and it’s just so fun to throw girls in the air. You build your strength, you build your confidence, and you’re able to work with your team to do things that literally feel like they should be impossible.

Gretchen: I’m a Flyer, and so on the other end of that. You feel on top of the world. It’s really exciting getting to work with the team and you’ve all got to be in it to hit it.

Scarlet: I’m a Flyer, so I get thrown around in the air which is really fun. I started in 2020, and I had never done cheer before.

Rachel: I’m a Secondary Base, so I support the Flyer from one side of the stunt rather than using all of my body. I toss people; I also tumble; I jump. I do lots of different things.


What are some of the opportunities?

Scarlet: We perform at around four competitions a year. We don’t really offer a non-competitive side.

Rachel: Four to five competitions a year, so that’s over a couple of weekends between June and November; then once a year we travel to either Uni Nationals or the AASCF Cheerleading and Dance Nationals, which is in Melbourne or the Gold Coast.

Grace: We just had Battle, then we’ve got States, Uni Games, and then Nationals.

Gretchen: Because we are in the university division, we only compete against university teams. We compete against UQ and Griffith in the state competitions and then when we go to Nationals there’s a whole range of Melbourne universities.

Scarlet: We also sometimes collab with the Guild and QUT in general to do fundraising and community events.

Grace: We had a sausage sizzle and a trivia night. It gets our Melbourne prices down.

Gretchen: We also help out with the uni. If they ask us to do some cheerleading, then we’re happy to do that.

Scarlet: We cheered on the runners for the QUT Classic.

Hollie: We did the QUT Classic; we brought our little cones and our pompoms to the fun run.


What is the commitment to the club?

Scarlet: It is a bit more commitment than just a social club because we do competitions, and we are a team.

Rachel: The biggest commitment is probably the financial commitments. It costs around two grand over the year, split into instalments.

Nat: They’re very strict on commitment if you sign up, and I one thousand percent agree. We do one training a week for two hours from eight to ten at night, but it goes so fast.

Grace: If you don’t come, it’s a let-down to your whole team, especially if you don’t have a good reason to back it up. For spacing, sometimes we have to use shoes and water bottles for it.

Nat: You’ve got four people in a stunt group. If one person’s not there, the whole stunt group can’t go up, and then pyramid can’t go up. Even when you’re injured or a little bit sick, we always encourage people to come watch so you can see what we’re changing. Uni work is not a good enough excuse to miss it, so you should be able to balance uni life and cheer. It’s the same time every week, so build your schedule around that and always tell work you’re not available at these times.

Hollie: The commitment around comps is you’ve got to be prepared. You’ve got to be looking after yourself the week of, you’ve got to have all your make-up, and your tan, and your contacts, and what else you need to have ready to make that journey out to the Gold Coast or Melbourne.

Gretchen: Even for dance, it’s not the same; doing it without your whole team there, you don’t know where you’re standing, and you don’t know what it looks like. Both cheer and dance are such team sports and if you’re going to be in them, you’ve got to show up and put the work in.


What do you like about QUT Cheer and Dance?

Grace: I like how welcoming it was from when we first got here. Everyone from previous years was just so lovely.

Gretchen: We’re really proud of our work. It’s a chance to make lifelong friends, and all of my best friends are at QUT Cheer and Dance. If I had never done cheer or dance, then I don’t know where I’d be, honestly.

Scarlet: The people on this team have become my family. Even though you don’t do the same subjects or degrees, it’s a really good way to meet other people in uni, especially if you’re an online student or you don’t like talking to people in class.

Hollie: It’s the team. You have twenty other girls that are just ready to support you and help you out. You get a new team every year, so you spend the entire year making bonds and it’s a fresh experience every time. It’s two hours of my week that I can just think about nothing else; I’ve got to solely focus in, and it’s such a release. It’s how I keep active, it’s how I keep strong, and without it I think I would overwork myself.


What do you like about competing?

Nat: I love the adrenaline rush. I love when we run out on mat and you can just feel the energy. As soon as you step off, you’re gasping for air because you’ve just put so much effort into it. We just competed Battle; we went on and collectively we all felt right. Everyone was giddy, we fought to keep those stunts up in the air, and it felt great because we “hit” and hit means we don’t do any drops, so we don’t get any deductions.

Grace: You get off that stage and it’s, “we just did that”. Sometimes you black out, you don’t remember it until a few minutes after. Or I like just before you run on, when we’re all saying, “we’ve got this”. That’s one of my favourite moments because everyone’s in the same boat: nervous but excited.

Hollie: When you go to the comp ground, you burst off everybody else’s energy. The feeling you get when you’ve done that routine, you know you’ve done it well, and you’ve done it with your team; it’s so worth the amount of effort and work you put into it. The entire world stops and you fully take in the whole experience.

Gretchen: The whole day you’re full of feelings. There’s no second where you can relax. It’s such a good break from reality. It feels like when you’re at competition, that’s the only thing that matters in the world. The whole thing is just so much fun. You get dressed up, you take pictures with your friends, you run around, and you watch the other teams.

Rachel: I love the build-up while you’re waiting backstage. It’s, “I’ve got two and a half minutes to either do the best thing I’ve ever done in my life, or it could all turn and everything falls to the ground”. Then everyone’s hugging each other, you get to watch the routine back, and everyone’s cheering. It’s the team spirit that really gets it for me. We compete at club competitions, so you get to watch people from all ages, from three up to fifty-three. You get to cheer other people on, then it’s your turn and everyone cheers you on.

Scarlet: My favourite part about competitions is getting ready for it, getting your make-up on, your uniform, doing your hair, and then you get there and you’re ready.


Who choreographs the routines?

Gretchen: For cheer, we work with an All Star cheerleading gym called Outlaws and we use their facilities and their coaches. But for dance we’re independent, so our trainings are led by the dance vice presidents. For each level there are different level-appropriate skills. It is quite strict, but for us we don’t have to worry about that. The coaches make sure that it’s going to be appropriate, competitive, and a good routine.


What are your motivations for cheer?

Grace: To generally do better, not just for the team or things I want to do in the future. Just to get those goals that I have put in place, and that make me feel better about myself.

Nat: As fitness, because you really push your body to the limits here. You come with a determination. You have a commitment to the team, but you’ve also got a commitment to yourself.

Rachel: It’s really nice, as an experienced cheerleader, to see the progression of people who come from the beginner part. It’s really inspiring for me to see people find the love that I’ve had for this sport since I was three.

Scarlet: I joined cheer because of my older sister; she did it and I used to love going to watch her competitions. Then I came to QUT, and she said, “just go to the tryout”. I absolutely fell in love with it on my first day and I’ve never looked back.


How can people continue after QUT?

Rachel: After QUT, you can go join an All Star club and they have open teams. Some clubs have adult teams too, so that’s eighteen and over, and that’s where people can go up to the 50s — while they’ve still got functioning knees and ankles.

QUT Cheer and Dance (@qutcheeranddance), Scarlet Alexander-Bate (@scarlet.bates), Gretchen Beyer (@ggretchennb), Rachel Williams (@rachlwilliams), Natarshya Martin (@tarsh4.44), Grace Cole (@grassy.c04), Hollie Pianta (@holliepian15)

Interviewer: Ailie McLeod is a transdisciplinary performer, an emerging writer, dancer and stage manager. She is currently in her third year studying a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Drama) at QUT. Last year Ailie’s play Manage, was her playwriting debut. Her performance credits include being an ensemble member in IMRSE’s CAKE, Hairspray the Arena Spectacular, and Queensland Contemporary Youth Ballet. Other credits include stage managing for 2am: The Extended Cut, Pengelly Productions and Brisbane Performing Arts Challenge. Upcoming projects for Ailie include assistant directing Sugar Mountain which will be a part of Vena Cava’s 2023 Freshblood Festival. 

Editors: Euri Glenn and Brock Scholte