Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Friday, December 21, 2007

A Different Shade of Blue

You can take the man out of the show but you can’t take the show out of the man.

The Blue Babble Battalion has had a history of enlisting “showmen” in its ranks. If it wasn’t the class comedian, it was the jock who didn’t make the cut. If it wasn’t someone who had a megaphone for a voice it was someone who likened cheerleading to commanding a large body of people. But the battalion too has had their share of folks who took to the floor because they liked fame (although others would describe it as notoriety) and wanted a jacket and a free ticket to the games.

Whatever their predilections, last December 16, 2007, the famed cheering squad unveiled a different side to itself in a concert dubbed Out of the Blue.

“What we wanted to really say was, ‘we’re more than just a halftime show,’” explained battalion captain Miko Medalla of the impetus to hold their first ever concert. “The battalion has always had a lot of talented individuals and the annual cheering competition isn’t enough of a venue for us to showcase what we can do. A concert seemed like the best next thing.”

Cheerdancers captain Barbara Escueta cited the concerts of the highly-decorated UP Pep Squad and UST Salinggawi as inspirations for the oldest cheering squads in the entire world to do their thing. “A little known fact that it’s a requirement for all the cheerdancers to attend classes on dance, ballet, hip-hop, jazz, and gymnastics among many others,” added the younger sister of the Blue Eagles Yuri Escueta, “Out of the Blue is an outlet for us to show that we can do more than tumble and shake pompoms. I mean, we may not dance for a living, but we have some very talented individuals in the group.”

“During the games, we express our love for the school; the concert is our way of expressing ourselves,” summed up the Lifters captain Arc Tolentino who like Medalla and Escueta is hoping to end their cheerleading days with a bang of a concert.

Out of the Blue was held at the Fr. Henry Irwin Theater in the Ateneo Grade School and featured a two-part program. The first part was a dance competition between three schools – Miriam College’s Sayawatha, La Salle Greenhills’ Air Force, and the Ateneo High School’s Indak (Indayog ng Atenistang Kabataan) that the home troupe won unanimously.

Then the battalions’ different squads -- the cheerleaders, cheerdancers, the band, the brass band, and the lifters – stepped into the spotlight with their own group presentations that ran the gamut of hip-hop street dancing, ballet, song and dance routines to a unique number that movie goers will recall as something similar to Dolby Digital Sounds’ “Stomp” video where different people used ordinary and everyday tools like car keys, trash can lids, pails, and brooms to create music. Every number required a change in costumes and the performances looked to have been lovingly choreographed and tirelessly practiced.

“Everyone trained long and hard for two months just for this,” divulged Escueta about the difficulty of balancing practice on top of attending classes and games by the school’s various sports teams. “We wanted to go and put out a good show,” she added with that winsome smile of hers.

The concert was well-attended by schoolmates, family members and relatives, Ateneo varsity athletes, alumni, as well as the supporters of the troupes from Miriam College and La Salle Greenhills.

After a triumphant ovation and a stamp of approval from the school’s University Athletics Director Ricky Palou at the end of the successful show, the members of the battalion let out a sigh of relief and exhilaration as they posed for pictures and jokes with others.

“Well, it’s done,” said a tired yet overly happy Medalla after the show. Not even a few technical glitches could put a damper on a great performance. “We can relax a bit – syempre kasi Christmas and all. But after that we still have the second semester sports to cheer on and there are a couple of cheering competitions we’re going to take part of. After I graduate, I will be finally able to watch the games and heckle.”

“But this is a nice legacy to leave behind.”

As a wise man once said, “you can take the man out of the show but you can’t take the show out of the man.”

o O o

Thanks to Miko, Baba, and Arc for inviting me and muchos gracias to Coach Ivan for the mention during the intro. Hindi ako sanay na special guest sa mga ganyan. Hahaha.

I went to the concert with an open mind and not expecting anything. That Sunday, I was on my third day of being so heavily sick that it was hard to walk and breathe, but I am so glad I went. Truthfully, I thoroughly enjoyed it and have only good words and the highest of praise for the Battalion. It was a great show and am convinced I was present for a milestone that could chart the BBB's destiny into previously unexplored waters. Now here's hoping that you won't become like the Kundirana. But hey, there's a thought!

Congratulations on a successful first concert and a job well done!

Animo Ateneo!

One Big Fight!

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