BY RACHEL SHARPE
Chanting and rhythmic clapping is the latest sound to be heard around CCHS’s halls. Hearing the step team stomping their feet in unison, it’s nearly impossible not to get caught up in the contagious beat of the performances. Rounding the corner and catching sight of the team practicing their routines for the upcoming pep rally, it doesn’t take long to understand why these girls were so excited about this unique form of expression.
Stepping is a form of dance whose roots date back to the early 1960s. In South Africa, indigenous people originally started stepping as a form of military exercise. Over time, stepping has developed into a form of dance that uses the entire body in the form of claps, steps and vocals to produce various rhythms. Step has become very popular among American’s today, especially teenagers. The 2007 movie, Stomp the Yard is based almost entirely on stepping. MTV’s hit show America’s Best Dance Crew and ABC’s So You Think You Can Dance have also featured many step routines.
Stepping has not only been a phenomenon in recent pop culture; but has also spilled over to students at Cooper City High School. Sophomore Aicha Fall’s love and enthusiasm for stepping drove her to establish a Step Team at CCHS.
Fall was inspired to create a step team at CCHS because of her previous experience on the Step Team at Pioneer Middle School. She became heavily involved in the sport and wished to pursue her love for stepping at a higher level.
With three years of prior experience, Fall made the decision to create a Step Team at the end of her freshmen year. After filling out the required paperwork, Fall’s hard work and persistency undoubtedly paid off. At the beginning of her sophomore year, the Step Team was approved at the first IOC meeting.
“A step team will add more spirit to our school.” Fall said. “It will hopefully help bring diversity to the clubs students can get involved in.”
Fall’s own involvement in the middle school step team is where her friendship with CCHS Step Team co-captain, Junior Lauren Troncoso first started. Troncoso’s mother, a teacher at Pioneer Middle, originally established the middle school’s Step Team after learning about stepping during a convention with some of her students. Being in elementary school at the time, Troncoso grew up watching practices and was automatically hooked. She tried out for the team when she entered middle school and worked her way up to captain in eighth grade. With Troncoso’s additional years of experience, she willingly taught Fall the basics of stepping.
“Lauren taught me everything I know about stepping.” Fall said. “When I decided to create the Step Team at CCHS, I approached her and asked if she would be interested in being co-captain of the team because I really owed it to her.”
Tryouts were held for Step Team hopefuls in late September. The process required students to create and perform an original short step routine. After four cuts were made, sixteen enthusiastic girls were selected for the team. The rules include attending all practices, contributing creative ideas and most importantly, displaying a positive attitude.
Fall works closely with Troncoso to efficiently lead and manage the Step Team. Besides the responsibility of ordering uniforms, creating choreography, and teaching it to the team, it is their job is to inform members when practices and performances are. It is also crucial that they make sure everyone is putting forth an equal amount of effort and working cohesively as a team.
Fall and Troncoso send daily Facebook reminders and text messages to inform members about upcoming practices or performances. The Step Team practices from 2:45 to 4:30p.m., every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, unless they have an upcoming performance, in which case practice is extended.
Just like any other team or club, there are always bound to be unexpected bumps in the road. Fall and Troncoso have already faced some conflicts while managing the team, like losing seven of the sixteen steppers in a matter of weeks. However, the nine current steppers are committed and dedicated, which is all that Fall and Troncoso have ever asked for.
Although being a captain of the Step Team can be exhausting and extremely disheartening at times, both Fall and Troncoso are more than qualified to overcome any obstacles they may face.
“I love the challenge of creating new beats, new movements and making everything perfect.” Troncoso says. “When you hear stomping, it signifies power, strength. When you have a group of young women stepping together, people say, ‘wow, look how in sync they are, how loud the beats are, how fierce they look!’”
The Step Team will perform for the school at pep rallies, basketball games, and the Variety Show. The team will not compete this year; however, Fall hopes that as the team grows and improves, they will compete next year against other step teams on a local and maybe even state level.
“The most important thing I hope to get out of being on the step team is an overall sense of unity and achievement.” Step team member Jeanell Neat said.
Fall and Troncoso are confident that the CCHS Step Team will be a great success. Their goals for the Step Team are to create as many routines as possible, have incredible performances, and hopefully inspire others to join the team. Above all, the captains aspire to create a special bond between all the girls on the team and become a family.