Originally created 03/09/99

Stepping out

The more noise you make, the better. As long as you're in sync.

That's what stepping is all about. Stomp your feet, clap your hands, shout out loud, do it all together, do it with energy and do it with attitude.

Stepping, a form of dancing loosely based on African tribal dances, has long been a popular recreational and fund-raising activity for black fraternities and sororities. Step teams travel to competitions and dance for cash prizes, which they use to support their community service projects.

But stepping is no longer just for college students. Several area high schools, middle schools and even elementary schools have recently formed step teams. The high school teams will compete at 7 p.m. Saturday in a step show at Butler High School, 2011 Lumpkin Road.

Some of those teams got a taste of the limelight March 6 in the Stomp-A-Rama Greek step show at the Bell Auditorium. Though it is a collegiate competition, several younger step teams from the Augusta area performed at the event.

In the hallway outside the stage, an hour prior to the show's start, five girls in khaki pants and white tank tops -- members of Butler High School's step team, Eclipse -- practiced over and over, trying to polish and perfect their moves. Rashika Williams, a junior, said the group just formed this year. It was their first public performance.

"It's fun, and it prepares me for when I get in college because I want to join a sorority," she said. The team practices every day, so she said she wasn't nervous about performing in front of a sold-out crowd at the Bell.

"I just see it as a way to make noise," said senior Ronald Johnson, a member of Butler's male step team, Black Ice. "I really like the dancing." And it doesn't hurt his social life to have all the ladies see how well he can move!

Alicia Mims, a sophomore at A.R. Johnson Health Science and Engineering Magnet School, is a member of the school's step team, Essence.

"I got into it because I love to dance, and when I first saw people step, it just amazed me how they did the different techniques," she said. "I was like, that's so cool, I've got to learn how to do that!"

The routines can get as creative as the people who make them up. In the Bell step show, members of Hephzibah High School's team, Lady Nouveau, entered the stage in a haze of smoke, through a cutout of a rocket ship lowered from the rafters. Dressed in matching silver outfits, they danced their routine with jerky, robotic, futuristic movements.

The six members of Fort Valley State University's Phi Beta Sigma step team formed a pyramid and traveled across the stage.

"We do lots of different routines," Alicia said of Essence. "I don't really have a favorite, I like all of them. It's a lot of fun, and a great way to make friends."

Stepping information

What: Butler High School Step Show

Where: Butler High School, 2011 Lumpkin Road

When: 7 p.m. Saturday

How Much: $3 in advance, $5 at the door. Advance tickets available through the school.

For more information: Butler High School, 796-4959


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