In February, I was asked to be a judge for a youth step show at my alma mater, Georgetown University. As the founder of the GU Step Team (GUST) I was honored to come back and participate.
There were three teams: Dem Raider Boyz, the Lady Raiders, and the Lady Legacy Step Team. I enjoyed the show and photos are below:
But I did want to bring some things up for people to consider when coaching teams or sponsoring step shows.
Always teach the history before you teach the choreography. Stepping is an African American art form, first and foremost. In its present form, it comes from African American fraternities and sororities via many other cultural traditions. If any stepper does not know this, they should not perform.
There is a difference between boys’ teams and girls’ teams. They should compete in their own divisions, not against one another.
You can have too much of a good thing. Consider dividing your team into smaller squads. Yes, large squads are impressive, but smaller squads are more versatile.
Stop appropriating traditional steps from fraternities and sororities. Instead, go on YouTube and find videos of great choreography, period. Beyonce does it. So can you. Incorporate moves from different time periods into brand new percussive steps.
You don’t have to grit. And some teams are calling it the “stank face” which is even worse. Gritting comes from the black fraternal experience and I am not comfortable with youth emulating it. There’s a time and place to learn what gritting means and why it’s done. High school is not that time.
Finally, know that there is life after stepping. Stepping is a form of dance, and dance is an art, so that makes you an artist. Take those skills with you to college and consider joining a dance troupe. And obviously there are professional step teams and dance troupes to join after college, too. if you are good, keep going!
I am looking forward to my next youth show. Hopefully there will be many more teams that are ready to handle the stage.