The Washington Steppers

Jessie Koozer

The crowd goes crazy when the Wash step team comes out during assemblies. Stepping, an African dance where the body is used as an instrument, has been on and off since the late 1990s and was recently brought back in 2017. The steppers use their bodies to produce intricate rhythms and sounds through a mixture of footsteps, hand claps, and spoken words. The team consists of ten students who perform at elementary schools, colleges, and who will be competing in May.
The two coaches, Sarah Swayze and Chris Wright, are motivated to help those on the team in other ways than just step.
“The purpose of step team is to give those in the community and Washington another part of black history. In addition to this, stepping builds self-esteem and gives students a sense of belonging. The goal of the step team is to decrease the dropout rate and to encourage and motivate students. [Chris] Wright and I wanted to bring out the artist and creative parts of our students,” said Swayze.
The step team performs many times throughout the year, and some of the students currently on the team saw the step team perform earlier and were inspired to join.
“I don’t do sports, so when I saw step at the first Black History Month assembly I told myself that’s what I wanted to do,” said Mylonna Douglas, ‘21.
Many of the steppers have a cultural connection to step, and they saw joining the step as something they had to be a part of.
“I love step so much. It’s an opportunity to practice something from our culture that was lost. A lot of people think of black fraternities and sororities when it comes to step, which is great, but the meaning of step is deeper than a Greek organization. It’s a part of African American culture, and I’m so thankful we get to have the opportunity to practice that,” said Diamond Roundtree, ‘20.