Herkies, pikes, hurdlers and standing tucks abound at the George R. Brown Convention Center this weekend. No, these aren't exotic animals, they're cheering moves. Sunday's Cheer America Cheer and Dance Championships will feature hundreds of amped-up high-schoolers demanding you root for sports teams you've never seen play. Cheerleading is actually a remarkably intense and complex sport. Tossing a person into the air and then turning around and doing three back handsprings while screaming at the top of your lungs is pretty damn hard. Professional judges will rate each group's performance on such things as precision, motion technique, degree of difficulty and, of course, spirit. This competition will draw groups from around the nation and feature dance teams, stunt teams and individual performers in addition to your standard pom-pom-wielding sets.
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Still not sure if cheerleading deserves your attention? Consider this: Our president was a high school cheerleader. Take that information as you will. Show up (with spirit!) anytime from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday, November 21. George R. Brown Convention Center, 1001 Avenida de las Americas. For information, call 800-554-4370 or visit www.cachampionships.com. $8. -- Julia Ramey
They'll Tumble for Ya
Houston seems to have a run on tiny women doing flips this weekend: The day before the Cheer America Championships, the TJ Maxx Tour of Gymnastics Champions tumbles into the Toyota Center, featuring a freshly decorated crop of male and female Olympians. Women's all-around gold medalist Carly Patterson will perform, along with Texan Courtney Kupets and more than a dozen other gymnasts -- and even a trampoline specialist. This isn't a pressure-heavy competition, though; the gymnasts will perform a "cirque-style" set, featuring ensemble performances on connected balance beams, theatrical floor routines and an assortment of high-flying stunts. And not a tear (or a catty sneer) in sight. We hope. 7 p.m. Saturday, November 20. Toyota Center, 1510 Polk. For info, call 866-446-8849 or visit www.tjmaxxgymnasticstour.com. $5 to $85. -- Julia Ramey