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The Grizzly Gazette

The Grizzly Gazette

The Grizzly Gazette

Osos BSU Came to Step

Aleish Cuaresma
The BSU team pictured practicing their choreography for their performance at the Prom prep rally.

Los Osos’ Black Student Union Club (BSU) has brought something new and exciting to our campus: their very own Step Team. Step is a form of dance. Its history began when enslaved African Americans were not allowed to beat drums, so they replicated African rhythms by using their hands and feet. 

This style of dance prevailed through centuries, and in the early 1900s, Black college fraternities and sororities evolved it into its dance genre. Step is a highly rhythmic and energetic dance based on stomps, claps, and verbal shouts. Since they performed in groups, it was a community-oriented way for Black college students to express pride in their Greek life chapters. Today, Step is a means for Black Americans to connect with their ancestors and celebrate the tenacity of their culture.

Under English teacher Christee Lemons’ instruction, the BSU Step Team has been off to a strong start, with their first performances at the Powderpuff Game and the Prom Rally. 

Lemons learned and taught stepping while she was in college. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., a historically Black sorority where learning to Step was a requirement. 

Since most high schoolers have never stepped before, it has granted Lemons a team with diverse abilities. She said, “Everyone’s coordination level is different, so it’s been fun teaching them something new or something that they have wanted to learn or haven’t had an opportunity to learn. Even if you’re more dance-coordinated this is a different kind of performance so it’s a little hard for everyone.”

Lemons is happy she can use her skills to help BSU. She added, “I’m glad to help them with this process and bring something not new to the campus, something different.”

The new Step Team has brought students of all backgrounds together, providing a space and experience for those who want to feel seen. Junior Destinee Knight said, “It’s just been fun out the gate. We’ve always wanted a Step Team, and we always wanted something that could bring Black people together. It attaches us back to the culture that we basically lost.” 

Many of the dancers agreed, with Sophomore Kadyn Pace saying, “It’s a good representation of our school. Me being an African American female, we don’t have a lot of representation at our school, so the Step Team is a connection for me, where I can find myself and be comfortable.”
Even those who are not part of the Black community have taken part and felt the welcoming environment created from the heart of the Step Team. Freshman Aiden Peña said, “I wanted to join Step because I saw this movie called ‘Step Sisters’, and the different rhythms that they made just with their hands and feet amazed me.”

He added, “The hardest thing for me was fitting in. Growing up, I mainly saw those of African American descent in Step Team movies and shows, and I felt kind of isolated and alienated as if I didn’t belong. But everyone’s been really nice and inviting that I just feel comfortable being a part of the team.” 

A freshman, who wishes to stay anonymous, said, “In a lot of places, there’s not a lot of Black communities and activities that you can join in, and it’s nice to know that it’s centered around African Americans, which makes it really nice to have. I also like to dance, so Step is just perfect for me, and it’s great to come together to make noises that are pretty and beautiful.” 

Although Step relies heavily on rhythm, the pace of a routine is also crucial. Sophomore Ivana Nwagbo said, “The hardest part is the pace. I can easily get the rhythm of things just by listening to it, but it’s just the pace of it. Some parts are really fast, some parts are slower.”

However, many of the members said the result is worth the difficulty. Sophomore Charlee Starks said, “Sometimes learning a new move and adding on to the step can be difficult and take some work outside of practice to get down, but once I get it the feeling is really rewarding.” 

The hard work pays off since the final result is so captivating and empowering. The nature of Step’s confident and tough performance has instilled itself into its dancers. A leader of the team, Junior Jordan Haynes, said, “We’ve surprised ourselves in so many different ways. I didn’t even know I was capable of even stepping in general, but I feel like Ms. Lemons, through Step, has brought out a whole new side of us, and we achieved a goal that we never thought we would achieve.” 

Haynes added, “It’s kind of like a family, a family growing together.” 

The team has brought together students from all over campus, and given them the opportunity for friendship and self-discovery through a new pursuit. Combined with the cultural impact, the Step Team has been an unforgettable experience for its dancers, and it will be for anyone who joins.  

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