One small step equals one giant leap towards diversity for the newly established Step Squad at Quinnipiac University. The squad, founded by president and senior physical therapy major, Darrell Nurse, differentiates itself from other dance groups through its performance of rhythmic clap and footstep combinations that create a sound deeply rooted in African heritage.
“Variations of step began when workers in Africa realized that the sole of their ‘gunboots’ formed musical sounds,” said Nurse. “A simple beat made from tapping the sole of the shoes became the music for the soul of African people.”
When Africans immigrated to America, the musical tradition spread slowly from areas with a high concentration of step to areas that were not even aware of the custom. Eventually, fraternities and sororities, mainly in the southern states, preformed choreographed step shows, merging step with the world of hip hop music.
Step’s impact became especially evident when cheerleading squads began incorporating step moves into their routines. Since Step exists mostly in the South, junior co-founder and secretary, Christian Shaboo, feels that “it is great for Quinnipiac to be one of the original schools to develop a squad amongst east coast universities.”
Currently, the Step Squad is in its second year and has approximately thirty members, a drastic increase from the six or seven active dancers from the previous year. Nurse called on friends and fellow steppers, Shaboo and senior, Ruth Joseph, for help with jump starting the squad.
“There weren’t enough dance groups at Quinnipiac to support the amount of talent,” Nurse Said.
The requirements to be a member include “dedication, willingness to learn, and an open mind,” Nurse said. “No experience is necessary.”
Regular rehearsals are held weekly on Sundays, and, to accommodate its less experienced members, optional practices are held on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. Members have a choice of participating in ether a dance sequence, step sequence or both.
“It is our objective to form a squad with a mixture of race, gender and ethnicity to demolish stereotypes about step squads being only for non-Caucasians,” Nurse said.
Even though the males of the squad are outnumbered by the females, “The guys are strong and especially good at holding their own.” Shaboo said.
To further establish the Step Squad’s integrity, Darrell Nurse, makes it clear that the squad is not “just a club that dances.”
Since Step Squad is a new organization on campus, and not yet funded by the university, making a good name for itself is a top priority.
One way Shaboo and Nurse plan to do that is through community involvement.
“[We] want to start early with a tradition involving community service that would be beneficial to the inner Quinnipiac community and especially people in need outside of the university.” Shaboo said.
In the future, Step Squad hopes to join forces with Habitat for Humanity and The Boys and Girls Club.
The squad even enlisted the help of the Director of Admissions, Krystal Livingston, who is now the group’s advisor and who used to step at her own college, to get them off on the right foot.
The squad is also interested in working with other clubs and organizations on campus. For instance, they already appeared in a brief, two minute performance during “The Remix,” a dance cosponsored by Q.U.A.D (Quinnipiac University After Dark) last month, and, in December, they plan to participate in the Dance Company’s winter show.
For now, members are practicing their routine for the upcoming Midnight Madness event and for the Organizational Showcase during Parents’ Weekend. Plans for a field trip see the hit show “Stomp” on Broadway with SPB (Student Programming Board), are also in store for a squad that seems to be one step ahead of the rest.