Step it Up!

Cheyenne Leasure, Reporter

On February 22, students gathered for the first ever Battle step team practice. The 13 girls that showed up for practice created three lines with captain Dennis Darks alone in the front. Darks had already created a routine for the group to learn prior to the first practice. As Darks taught the routine, the room began to fill with dancing, stomping, clapping, and chanting by the team.

Darks described a step team as being different from traditional dance. When stepping, they are more interactive with the crowd by chanting with them. He also described the steppers as being more aggressive with the moves.

Darks didn’t just decide to start a step team out of the blue. He decided to start a team because he has previous experience in stepping, being a part of Missouri High Steppers and Mid Missouri High Steppers located here in Columbia. While participating in these two groups, he was a captain for four years.

Darks has wanted to start a step team at Battle since his freshman year of high school. It took up until his junior year to get the team approved and to get people interested. According to sponsor Lindsey Mirielli, in order to start a club or team, a student first has to fill out a form saying what the club is and then who the sponsor is. After you have the form filled out, you have to have a certain number of students sign it expressing interest in the team or club. Once the form was completely filled out, Darks had to turn it into the athletic director so they could decide whether or not to approve the activity. Darks had to be persistent in order to get the team started by asking them about it everyday until he got it approved.

“It was finally approved in the middle of January and we have been having practices every Friday,” Darks said.

Once it was approved by the athletic director, Darks had many challenges he faced when he started the team. He had to get the word out to more students. To do this, he told his fellow classmates and friends about the new team, asking them to join. Because of his efforts, 13 girls showed up to the first practice with more to follow.

“On top of that, more people texted me telling me they just couldn’t make it,” Darks said.

To be a part of the team, there is no required previous experience needed. According to Darks, anyone that is willing to work hard and learn the routines is welcome to join the team.

“I feel like anyone can do anything,” Darks expressed. To be a part of the team, all you need is to be you and be willing to put in the work, “If you don’t know how to do it, I just teach you how.”

Performance wise, Darks isn’t completely sure exactly when or where they will showcase their routines. He hopes to have the team performing in future assemblies and at events such as pride prom. Mirielli has also made a few performance goals for the team. She hopes to see the team perform at future sports events that the school puts on.

Darks isn’t the only leader of the team. Co-leader Princess Boway said the step team is something fun to do after school. It’s full of girls that like to dance and a coach that likes to dance.

“DC [Darks] is a great coach. He knows how to cooperate with the team, he knows how to teach, and he doesn’t go too fast. If you’re having issues, he tells you to come to him,” Boway said.

According to Boway, the first practice went very well.

“Even though most of the girls had a hard time, we still managed to do the whole dance and preview a second one before the practice was over,” Boway expressed.

One thing that Boway is most excited for is actually stepping and learning the new dance moves. She explained that she can’t wait for the performances and seeing where it takes the team.

Although Darks isn’t completely sure what kinds of performances the team will do, they all continue to work hard trying to build the team up. They hope to do all sorts of performances such as at dances and assemblies. Practices are held from 4:10 pm until about 5:10 pm every Friday. With this practice and teamwork, the team will continue to grow and more performances will be set.