Some people recognize stepping from movies such as “School Daze: and “Stomp the Yard,” while an older crowd is more likely to think of it as a couple’s dance. Yes, there are two forms of stepping, both prevalent in African-American communities. But they are available and can be learned and enjoyed by anyone.
Both forms of stepping require stamina, and in order to perform them successfully, it’s probably a good idea to be in shape. These dance styles are executed with precision, they flow with a certain level of discipline and are actually a form of exercise in themselves. However, it can’t hurt to become familiar with some basic fitness workouts to make sure that your body is ready for real stepping, whether that’s on a Chicago ballroom dance floor or on college campuses across the U.S., or even in your favorite nightclub.
Stepping College Style
Spike Lee’s movie “School Daze” brought stepping to the forefront of American culture, although it had been around for more than 50 years. It is a form of precision dance that uses a person’s feet as the main instrument, even though the whole body is involved in the process. Although a single person can perform stepping, it is generally a group activity. It’s also more prevalent among young men, although in the modern world, young ladies take part.
There are a lot of elements involved in stepping, including tap, military precision and gymnastics. Although break dancing is not the same as stepping, the two arts forms do utilize some of the same moves and are effective at stretching the body to its limits while following a succinct rhythm. If you are interested in this form of stepping, it might be a good idea to look into this course on break dancing, which covers both men and women moves.
Stepping is almost a form of military march. Traditional steppers are totally in sync and often use vocals as part of their routine, as well as canes, fire and even blindfolds.
Stepping emerged as a schoolyard competition among fraternities as HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities). The art form originated actually at what was called Greek Sings, where the fraternities and sororities would gather and sing about their organizations. Over time, the men added movements and stepping emerged. Greek Sings became Greek Shows, and they still are a part of college life today.
However, there are some movies that are signature moves of certain fraternities. For example, the move called the Nut Cracker was initiated by the Phi Beta Sigma and remains its signature move today.
With the growing popularity of urban music, stepping also became more of a mainstay at clubs, competitions and in the movies as well. In recent times, stepping has been incorporated into a lot of pop culture situations, including the dance shows on television. “America’s Best Dance Crew” featured a steppers group – the Strikers All Stars – on its show and the group actually placed fourth in the competition. Urban-oriented shows such as “A Different World” and the original “Arsenio Hall Show” featured steppers back in the ‘90s, and BET (Black Entertainment Television) has included step shows in its programming on occasion.
Here’s an interesting tidbit – Columbus Short, one of the stars of the hottest show on TV, “Scandal” – played a stepper in the box-office hit “Stomp the Yard,” where he led his team of steppers to a national title.
Stepping Chicago Style
Stepping, which is an urban form of ballroom dancing, is a popular dance for older adults, especially in the African-American community. Its origins began in Chicago decades ago and it remains a popular dance among urban crowds. Even iconic R&B singer R. Kelly is familiar with this style of dancing and has made songs to suit its crowd. “Stepping In The Name of Love,” which actually charted on Billboard, “Happy People” and “Christmas I’ll Be Steppin’,” are some of the tunes the Grammy-award winning artist has penned and released on record.
This form of stepping is a couple’s experience. It’s actually a form of ballroom dancing, as it is carried out with a precision yet graceful flow that comes from following a standard 8 count. Those that promote the art form, such as Cynthia Shanks, who has won numerous stepping contests, say that the dance should be passed on to young people, as it teaches cooperation, promotes exercise and encourages respect and courtesy in social interaction.
While Chicagoans hold stepping close to their hearts, in other parts of the world it has been called jazz dance, the cakewalk and even swing. What’s called stepping today first evolved as the jitterbug in the 1930s. It was totally a couple’s dance form and some were known to even incorporate acrobatics into their routines. Over time, music changed and a new form of stepping emerged called bop. This form of stepping involved two stepping. It became popular in the ‘60s and stayed hot into the ‘70s. Over time, it has evolved into a classy and smooth style, with couples dressing up for the occasion of going out “stepping.”
There is actually national clubs of Chicago-style steppers such as SteppersUSA, where professionals associated with the dance form, such as DJs, club owners, fans and even movie makers come together to exchange information and find links to everything stepping, such as contests and DJs who play the music that suits it. Another one is ChicagoStyleSteppers, which goes so far as to offer clothing for people who take stepping as a serious way to spend their time.
One thing about this form of stepping… it requires people that are confident in what they are doing. Once you have the dance itself down, or even while you are learning it, it might be to your advantage look into a course in confidence building. Stepping Chicago-style requires some intricate moves, but it also has to have the flavor of a confident man and woman who know how to step in total style!
Stepping In Style
No matter if you are stepping to the beat of an urban club hit, on a college campus or with you partner at a ballroom stepping party, you have to be able to do certain things: one is understand and be able to execute the movements. Another is look good. And that means having the physical body and appropriate outfit to fit the part.
And for the ladies, who are most likely wearing a dress, especially if they are Chicago-style stepping, it also means that they should look elegant and toned. This course, in fact, can teach you how to combine fitness and toning. There’s nothing more exciting and attractive than watching a woman execute dance moves that possesses beautiful curves and toned muscles.
A Couple Of More Things…
Stepping is basically a group thing. If you are part of a fraternity or dance crew, communication is key for a number of reasons. And if you are a part of a couple, social interaction is also key to your success as a stepping duo, whether you do it for pleasure on a night out or you are in a competition. This course can help you with your social and communications skills and assist you in having the best partner and the time of your life.
Both forms of stepping have definitely evolved and grown into an integral part of urban culture for everyone to enjoy.