Lion’s Eye Staff Writer Lauren Tweed, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Soul Steppers are dancing their way around the world and they made a pit stop at Penn State Brandywine. The Soul Steppers, founded by Maxine Lyle in 2005, are a dance group that originated in New York City. Lyle is a dancer, choreographer and a producer. The group has traveled the world performing and conducting workshops. They specialize in crowd participation; hand-clapping, stomping and even dancing alongside the steppers. The crowd was also involved in a Soul Steppers roll call, which included reciting name and major.
The steppers even taught a bit of history while performing a dance. Step dance resembles Gumboot Dancing, the way African mine workers communicated behind their bosses back during the late 1800s. The mining job itself and oppressive bosses, made it difficult to communicate. To compensate, they would slap the sides of their boots and stomp out rhythmic codes to each other to speak about their pain, sorrow, and also mock their bosses. The workers were asked, by their bosses, to come and show off their skills. Their bosses did not realize they were being mocked the dancers and continued to promote the dance. Stepping started in the 1920s on college campuses. The students would march and clap to show solidarity. The Soul Steppers also incorporated this form of dancing into their routine.
“That’s an interesting form of communication,” said Patricia Carlos, a sophomore communications major. Their dances are high-energy with combined percussive movements, hip hop rhythms, and call and response. The Soul Steppers use their whole bodies to show what they are saying and feeling. When the steppers went to war, their dance had evolved to include sharp and defined moves as would be seen in the military marches.
A sophomore music major, Hannah Chu said, “this has been the most entertaining thing ever! This is the greatest way to learn about black history month.” The Soul Steppers were named the 2010 Association for the Promotion of Campus Activities Cultural Artist of the Year.
They dance to the beat of their own drum by using the rhythm of their clapping, slapping, and tapping. They even stomp their feet to create a beat. The Soul Steppers dance to the beat of their own drums, and you can too. To learn more, go to soulsteps.com.