If you want to make things happen, you have to step up
For Jasmine Spence ’14 (Rochester, N.Y.), starting Nazareth’s first step team was a no-brainer. While goofing around with some others who had stepped in high school, she created a buzz.
How do you describe stepping?
“It’s using your body to make beats. It started in Africa as a ‘boot dance’ and it has been transformed into different styles. In stepping, you’re not just using your feet to stomp. You’re using your entire body.”
What would we see if we watched your group perform?
“You’d just see original. There’s tumbling and twisting. We do all of that.”
What kinds of skills do steppers need to have?
“There’s no talent required. At our first interest meeting, a lot of international students came. They picked up the steps as fast as anyone else, even the people who had stepped before. People who have danced before might pick it up faster. But it’s hard to say, at the outset, who’s going to be the best.”
What’s the hardest part of learning to step?
“The hardest move to master is the ‘train.’ You stomp back on your right foot while lifting your left foot higher. The key is to make your left foot go as high as it can. The left foot is rhythmic but silent. It took me almost a month to get it. But once you learn it, you have it down forever.”
How do you choreograph a routine?
“We just come up with a beat that we like. We’ll do a steady beat, then somebody makes up another beat that goes with it, and then another person adds something completely different. Once you’ve got the beats, you put in the body movements: clapping, stomping, twirling your legs like crazy. It’s everything.”
Is the team only for women?
“No. We have guys on the team, too. We like to pull our guys in when we’re thinking up the new steps. We show them the moves and get their feedback on if something is too feminine!”
You had 20+ members in your first year. How did you build interest?
“At first, curious audiences showed up to see us perform because they weren’t sure what a step team actually does. But then students started telling other students, ‘Hey, you’ve got to see this. It’s a really good show.’ And then lots of people showed up.”
What else do you do on campus?
“I’m an orientation leader. You get to meet all the new students and show them the ropes. You’re getting them to love Naz like you do. The most important part is getting them involved on campus, so of course I let them know about the step team!”
When you graduate, how will it feel to leave the step team as your legacy?
“I’m going to be so excited. This is something that we did. We’re the founders. How cool is that?”
You’re planning to go to law school. Will starting the step team look good on your application? “Well, leadership is key!”