UNT’s new stepping organization gets the Green Lite

UNT’s new stepping organization gets the Green Lite

UNT’s new stepping organization gets the Green Lite
November 30
12:30 2018

Stepping looks a lot like a dance — it has fluidity, formations and lots of footwork. For members of the new organization Green Lite Steppers, stepping is much more than the sounds their feet make.

Step has been a prominent part of black culture for many years, and dates back to traditional African dances, finding its way to black Greek fraternities and sororities in U.S. colleges. Political science freshman Dillon Smith, president and founder of Green Lite Steppers, defines it as “the rhythmic stomping and moving of the feet.”

“I fell in love with stepping [in high school],” Smith said. “I found a family there. It made me the person I am. I felt like I really could bring stepping — which helped me find my family — here to this campus, and help people find [others] to help them uplift themselves and ultimately graduate from here.”

Smith began the process of starting the team after sophomores who saw him in a step show approached him about possibly starting a team at UNT. While at first he was apprehensive, he said support from his senior friends gave him the push to go forward with the team.

“I didn’t expect as many people to be interested,” Smith said. “Then we had a small interest meeting and a lot of people came out, and it helped me realize I can really do this. It’s something big that I can make my impact on campus with.”

Recruitment: Stepping into the team

Devin McClain and Dillon Smith talk about upcoming practices for the team. Green Lite Steppers is a co-ed step team here at UNT. Ashley Gallegos

Biology junior Julisa Crowder was a cheerleader from the time she was in elementary school all the way up to high school, but she has always wanted to be on a step team.

“I’m glad UNT is starting this,” Crowder said. “It’s nice to be part of something new. I still wanted to find my niche because even though I’m a junior, I still haven’t found my place here. That is why I joined.”

Now the administrative director of the Green Lite Steppers, Crowder finds that stepping allows for more freedom with movement and creativity than competitive cheer.

“In cheerleading we focus on ballet moves mostly and flipping and raising people into the air,” Crowder said. “Stepping is more about footwork than anything. I feel like [stepping is] more diverse and more gender fluid than cheerleading because when guys join cheerleading, they’re looked down upon like, ‘Oh that’s girly,’ or whatever. Girls and guys can step.”

As the fall semester comes to a close, the team is looking forward to starting regular practices and showing their skills in the new year.

“For this semester we’re tabling just so we can get our name out there more, and so we can have more funding,” Crowder said. “We are new and we are not under the Black Student Union, so we don’t get funding for certain things. For next semester we plan to have another interest meeting because people’s schedules change. We are hoping to do some competitive stepping.”

Marketing freshman Devin McClain has always been interested in step but never participated because he was dedicated to another sport in high school. McClain is now eager to build relationships among the members of Green Lite Steppers — much like he did in his football days in high school.

“The biggest similarity I would say [is the] brotherhood and family,” McClain said. “The same way in football you get a tight bond with the people you play with, in step you’re going to be bonded with your fellow steppers.”

In tune with Smith and Crowder’s optimism for the team, McClain believes they can leave a lasting legacy on campus.

“There’s no other club or organization like it,” McClain said. “If people on campus will see us and see how close we are and what we’re doing, I think it will lead more people to start [organizations] and also get more on campus and get more involved.”

Bringing black UNT together

Julisa Crowder talks about the team’s presence on campus and what it will mean to other students. Crowder is both a dancer and administrative director of the team. Ashley Gallegos

A sort of subculture exists among black students on campus and Twitter in what is referred to as “black UNT.” While the community does interact and form close friendships, Crowder senses a division as well and hopes Green Lite Steppers can help bridge that gap.

“[Students on social media] are always talking about how the black community at UNT lacks unity and we’re all just separated,” Crowder said. “For instance, the Africans tend to stay to themselves, [and] black Americans tend to stay to themselves, so I’m glad we have a mixture. [At] our interest meeting there was a mixture of everyone, and I like that.”

She feels it is important to link black students through stepping because it is a part of black history.

“I think it’s unique to black culture because I really haven’t seen anyone else do it,” Crowder said. “It’s more than just being in formation. It’s representing your heritage.”

Smith feels the impact of stepping not only applies to interpersonal relationships but also a person’s outlook and ambition.

“As a black community, we kind of brought the roots back,” Smith said. “It started to become something people wanted to get into at [schools] to basically uplift them, and to have that community and reason to be good in school. One thing stepping does for a lot of students is that it gives you something to work for.”

The forefront of Smith’s vision for Green Lite Steppers is creating a unified group while celebrating a longtime custom.

“My hopes for the team is to basically give everyone the idea of what stepping looks like, give people the image of how fun it can be, how exciting it can be, [and] how alive it can be,” Smith said.

Featured Image: Julisa Crowder is an administrative director for the club as well as a team dancer. Crowder is a junior here at UNT. Ashley Gallegos

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Nikki Johnson-Bolden

Nikki Johnson-Bolden

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