Step by Step

Step team’s first year as a group, taking on districts and their own way of dance


Elianah Ogletree

The team’s first group picture after their performance at this year’s black light pep rally.

Chant. Stomp. Clap. What started as the traditional African gumboot dance now beats along the hallways of our high school: step dancing.
In November of 2017, seniors Mia Jones, Lauren Daughtery and Catherine Roberts decided that something was missing in the culture of their extracurricular experience: a step team. Stepping or step-dancing is a form of percussive dance in which the participant’s entire body is used as an instrument to produce complex rhythms and sounds through a mixture of footsteps, spoken word and hand claps.

“It is like performing without the original dances. It’s like singing acapella, but making noises with your body,” senior team member Elianah Ogletree said.

Ogletree speaks on the unique style of stepping compared to other forms of dance seen at school by saying how, “Performance wise, other dance teams pick the songs everyone goes to. All of our songs are old rap music, something that we like that we can get hype to. Chappa style is my favorite. We do a stroll to it, and I love that song.”

By taking a glance at this family-like team, you would assume that they are there purely because of their love for each other and the steps they create, but these girls have a major competitive edge tucked away in their spirits. After only one year of organizing a team at Cypress Woods, several of the members have managed to make it on the district wide step team.

“We have a step team as a club, and then we have a districts team. On the step team we have a little more than 20, and then on the districts team it’s about 12 kids,” Ogletree said. “We’ll be competing against the other Cy Fair schools on April 13. Anyone that has a YLPA (Young Ladies of Positive Attitudes) organization, which is basically the HOLA and step clubs, can try out to compete. Not every school has dance teams for this, but if you do, you go to districts to compete that.”

Although learning and competing on the district level seems intense, many of the team members speak on the memories the district level has created for them.

“Learning some of the stuff for the district show, we were really into it. For me, I’m an outsider in that group, so that was the first time they actually talked to me and communicated to me (on the district team). You have to audition and interview to make the district team, and make your own step,” junior team member Jesslyn Bogas said.

But don’t knock it till you try it, these district team qualifiers commit a good amount of their week to making their step routines finely tuned, aside from the other activities that a number of them are involved in. The school team practices Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3:20-4:30, with occasional Tuesday practices. Plus, these girls give up several weekends for district team and/or competitions against other schools.

“It’s kinda like a family. We all became really close hanging together, and after every performance, we all go to McDonald’s together and get food,” Ogletree said. “It is difficult because every step is different, especially when you do a four part, they all go to the same beat, it’s just different movements,” Ogletree spoke of the detail it takes to master a routine. “But when everyone does the same thing at the same time like we’re supposed to do and we’re all in sync, it turns out really good because the sounds are in sync, so you don’t have a popcorn effect where she starts and you start, and it just looks really good when everyone’s on the same page.”

But this attention to detail hits a home run with the girls once they finally master a routine.

“ It feels so good to finally actually get the step down and do it over and over again to the point where you can’t mess it up,” Bogas said.

Despite the progress the team has already made in its first year, they carry many aspirations for the future. Many of them hope to one day get a boy and a girl team, as well as inspire students of different races to start stepping with them. Additionally, they hope to one day carry the reigning first place district champion title that Cypress Lakes High School currently holds.

“Everybody’s seen HOLA and everybody’s seen the dance team,” Bogas said. “I think our step team adds a little bit of flare to it. They’ve never seen a step team before or know what it is and so we add that aggressiveness of ‘we’re here and this is what we can do.’”