dSTOMP. STOMP. CLAP. SLAP.
STOMP. STOMP. CLAP. SLAP.
Beginning with one leader, step routines steadily gain power and speed as the rest of the Ball State RedPrint Step Team joins in using only their bodies and heavy black boots to compose music.
“Some people can dance, but some people can’t step,” said sophomore sociology major Sydney Trappier, a member of the RedPrint Step Team. “I like the fact that we’re literally making sound and music with our bodies.”
Originally from Atlanta, Georgia, Trappier has been step dancing nearly all her life after her mother introduced her to the form.
“It started at church first, then as I got older, I joined the team [at school],” Trappier said. “I was on two step teams at the same time.”
When Trappier came to Ball State in 2017, the RedPrint Step Team had not yet been formed, so she practiced in her room.
In December of that year, Trappier was able to “step” outside her room with the official creation of the stepping dance team.
Beginnings of step
Stepping is based on a long tradition in African-based communities that used movement, sounds and speaking to communicate commitment to a group, according to Step Afrika’s website, the first professional company dedicated to the tradition of stepping.
In the early 1900s, step was introduced in the United States and grew from the original song and dance rituals historically practiced by African-American fraternities and sororities.
Today, stepping can be found across college campuses, schools, churches and community organizations.
In her book “Soulstepping,” Elizabeth C. Fine explains that stepping was widely popular with “black Greek-letter societies” starting in the early 1900s.
Now stepping can be seen interwoven throughout pop culture in movies like “Stomp the Yard” and “Step Up.”
“I think that the various films and shows… have brought stepping to many more people than would have been exposed to it on college campuses,” Fine said in an email. “The art form of stepping is intrinsically exciting and its combination of spoken word and complex percussive sounds and synchronized movements fascinates viewers. I have never seen anyone be bored at a step show.”
Junior Kennedy Mosley, RedPrint Step Team’s founder and telecommunications major, also started stepping at her church as a child and continued throughout high school.
“Step is like a totally different form of dance because you’re like actually making the beat with your body,” Mosley said, clapping to emphasize the point.
Mosley said many new members came to the group to feed their curiosity and learn how to step but ended up staying because of the sense of community the team creates.
When the dance team started, it had 12 members, and now it has grown to 20.
"It makes me happy to see — even when we're at practice and we're doing steps — the small bonding moments when we're like goofing off,” Mosley said. “It makes me happy to be able to sit back and watch all of us slowly get close and know that I'm a part of the reason everyone is here."
Sophomore Legend Edwards, a team member and international business major, tried to audition last year but left because he found the steps too challenging. Mosley was able to convince Edwards to give the team a second shot, and now he is a co-captain.
“I came back during the first practice — I actually ripped my pants — and then after that, every day after practice, I would go with a friend to practice step,” Edwards said. “She helped me get better at it, and I ended up loving it.”
This year, Edwards said stepping has really become an outlet for him because he easily gets overwhelmed by his schooling and resident assistant duties.
“I’m going through a lot of stuff, but when I come into step, it’s like I’m a totally different person. I just wanna step,” Edwards said. “I just want to get this energy out and just have fun being around people who are loving and caring.”
Coming up on its complete first year, the RedPrint Step Team has already initiated many traditions and shows it hopes to continue in the future.
The team participated in Air Jam during Homecoming week, where Mosley said she felt like the team gained more recognition.
“A lot of people didn’t know who RedPrint was, but since we were in Air Jam — and almost every student on campus was at Air Jam — they’re like ‘Oh...We didn’t even know we had a step team,’” Mosley said.
In April, members also held their first showcase that incorporated more than just stepping, with their next one scheduled for the upcoming spring. This year, RedPrint is reaching out to other dance groups to perform alongside the team in the showcase.
“The good thing about being able to do a show like this is that we can step, we can dance a little bit, we can play music, we can add skits and we can have costumes,” Mosley said. “It’s more than us just stepping.”
Tier Morrow contributed to this story.
Contact Mary Eber with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.