UMass Lowell’s step team can be found on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. The Instagram and Facebook usernames are @steppininunity and the Twitter handle is @UMLSteppin. (Courtesy of Steppin in Unity)
For one that has encountered the art of step, it was an educational and entertaining evening last Saturday as South Campus’ Durgin Hall was the performance destination for many of the region’s top collegiate step programs. Over 150 attendees witnessed a UMass Lowell-hosted competition that saw six step teams compete for the grand prize of $500 and a first-place trophy.
A variety of colleges and other step teams accepted UMass Lowell’s challenge including: Westfield State, Brandeis College, UMass Dartmouth, Pan African, Stepping on Another Level (SOAL) and Framingham State. The evening was capped off by performance from the host, UMass Lowell’s Steppin’ In Unity (SIU) team.
This event marked the first annual step and dance competition at UMass Lowell. The performance showcased the art of the African American culture and spread awareness about step on the UMass Lowell campus. At the end of the night, Westfield State’s step team won the competition, with SOAL and Framingham Dance placing second and third, respectively.
For those new to the creative form, step is the art of using one’s body to make music. Synchronized movements can appear similar to dancing, but the precision and unity required between each team member demands a more precise timing approach. The performers use their arms and legs to create beats, rhythms and melodies. The alternative form of dancing originated in Africa and has become a huge part of historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) Greek culture.
Lately, many sororities and fraternities have adopted step due to the strengthening that it provides to their brother/sisterhoods. Step gives groups a way to differentiate themselves from the rest of their community.
After the success of their first competition, SIU is looking forward to new endeavors and partnerships. Their immediate plans focus on increasing community outreach and volunteer activities. Eventually, SIU wishes to fundraise more and create many more events on campus.