Cheerleading in the CFL (and probably many other places) is basically an artistic, high-energy, athletic skin show. The routines the cheerleaders go through are beautifully and/or intriguingly well-choreographed, and the cheerleaders have to be supremely well-conditioned to perform 5-8 times a day while they are out here at Grey Cup.
I may be biased (in part because one of my former students is one of them), but the choreography of the Saskatchewan Roughrider cheerleaders is especially intriguing. The people move gracefully from one position on the floor to another, morphing seamlessly into new positions and shapes, shifting different people from front to back, etc.
By a slim edge, the best I've seen (cheerleaders often perform just before the Regina Pep Band, and so we've been able to see several different shows) are the cheerleaders from Edmonton. They have great skill but also seem quite lively and alluring. Their choreography is good (though not the same as the Riders cheerleaders) but just overall I enjoyed their performances more than any of the others.
- Old Fogey time: In the 50s and 60s, cheerleaders led the crowds in cheers. There was far less of the performance aspect to what they did.
- In the 70s and 80s, cheerleading changed from leading cheers to being gymnastic, athletic performances.
- Nowadays, what they do would have gotten them arrested in the 50s. The smiles, the moves, the hip thrusts, and other gestures are quite provocative, as are the extremely skimpy outfits. I think the cheerleader routines these days are far better than the stuff we saw from go-go dancers in the 60s.
- The music to which they perform their routines is always fast-paced, upbeat and well-chosen.
- Long hair seems to be a requirement for being a CFL cheerleader. Many of the routines involve flipping their hair around to the beat of the music. If a female wants to be a cheerleader and has kinky or tight curly hair, she must straighten it, I expect. Wavy is fine, apparently, and maybe even preferable to very straight.
- The exhibitions (!) seem like soft-core porn to me. Women display themselves provocatively and then go into the crowd to sell calendars and playing cards (and other memorabilia?) with their photos. More than once I was reminded of the musical I was in last spring, Cabaret.
- The cheerleaders have been staying at the RCMP depot in Regina for Grey Cup. We had lunch there one day with some of them. They really watch their diets. They eat tonnes of veggies and salads. But they need lots of protein and enough calories to make sure they have the energy to do all their shows.