College step teams wow crowd at Sankofa competition

University of Albany’s Precizun Step Team was one of five groups to perform in Sankofa’s 10th annual ‘Steady Steppin’ competition. Luke Passannante/Contributing Editor.

Last Saturday, Sankofa hosted Steady Steppin’ Forward 2015, its 10th anniversary show and step competition. The event, emceed by Tirhakah Love ’15 and Shanice Scantlebury ’15, featured five college step teams from the greater Northeast area, who came from as far as Boston to compete.

The show opened with a high-energy performance by the Sankofa team, outfitted in black, camouflage-print and combat boots. Although Sankofa did not compete against the other teams, their dynamic stepping elicited loud cheering from the audience, setting the bar high for the competitors.

The show’s competition portion kicked off with a routine by one of two teams hailing from the University of Albany: Organized C.H.A.O.S. For their piece, this all-male group envisioned a world in which the police had banned stepping. C.H.A.O.S. peppered its performance with amusing skits in which half of the team played the part of cops upholding the prohibition of stepping. To borrow their words, C.H.A.O.S. truly did “bring the chaos” to the stage, and was a sure crowd favorite.

After the all-male team finished their performance, a step team from Holy Cross, Rhythm Nation Steppaz, assumed the stage. The all-female team opened with a short video of the group preparing for the competition, à la Dance Moms. The team’s spirited performance was also intended to be reminiscent of the reality TV show, with one member of the team playing the part of the coach, encouraging them and calling the steps. The group utilized the entirety of the stage, ending one of its synchronized steps by dropping into half-splits and proceeding to step while lying flat on the ground. They passionately proved to the audience that, as they said, there “ain’t no party like a Rhythm Nation party”.

Next up was S.O.L.I.D., the step team from Siena College. This group’s unique performance was undoubtedly the most chilling of the night; the team entered the stage dressed as robbers, clad in all black with beige cloths covering the bottom halves of their faces. With audio clips from the movie The Purge and the theme song of American Horror Story among their song choices, S.O.L.I.D. pulled off a delightfully creepy performance.

The mood shifted dramatically after S.O.L.I.D. left the stage and Ritmo Latino entered, treating the audience to an intermission of sorts. Ritmo performed two dances, set to upbeat bachata music that reinvigorated the audience and had them eagerly anticipating the second half of Steady Steppin’.

The second University of Albany group, Precizun Step Team, was first to take the stage after Ritmo. This all-female team was clad in army pants and combat boots, with their faces streaked with war paint. Precizun’s costumes were indicative of the style of their routine, in which one of the members of the team played the part of a drill sergeant. In addition to eliciting laughter from the audience by referring to the steppers as “maggots,” the drill sergeant motivated the group throughout the performance. Precizun’s exuberant steps were a crowd-pleaser: when the team moved to form a “P” for Precizun, the audience erupted. Perhaps more impressive, though, was when two steppers used a third member of the team as a human jump-rope. In the performance, Precizun claimed that it “came to dominate,” and it did just that.

The final competitor was BlackOut, an all-male team from Tufts. BlackOut put on short skits to showcase its steps, providing for an entertaining and interactive performance. One skit, entitled “BlackOut TV,” included weather and sports segments which provoked lots of laughter from the audience. The group kept up a teasing, playful banter with the audience as well. Another skit centered around members of the team trying to learn how to best approach the “beautiful” Williams women – and based on the audience’s reactions to the performance, it seemed like stepping was the answer.

While the judges, who were Sankofa alumni, deliberated, Sankofa took the stage to close the show. Their final performance energized the crowd, which erupted once again into applause and cheers. Finally, the judges revealed the winners: both teams were from the University of Albany, with Organized C.H.A.O.S. winning first place and Precizun coming in second.

As I am sure my fellow audience members would agree, Sankofa’s months of preparation and planning for the tenth annual Steady Steppin’ Forward show more than paid off. Sankofa member Sharai Dottin ’18 explained that the group’s goal for the show was to “show the other teams what Sankofa could do.” Sankofa did just that, more than proving that it is a force to be reckoned with and leaving everyone looking forward to next year’s show.