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Texas teens step it up at inaugural competition

January 20, 2019

A clap, a tap and a backflip from standing — these were just some of the moves teens showcased at the first-ever Houston Step Fest Saturday.

The event, at Texas Southern University’s Graville M. Sawyer Auditorium, showcased the dance of five Houston teams and two Dallas teams competing for trophies and prizes that would sustain their teams for future shows. Produced by local public relations firm Lemon-Lime Lite Media, the step show was hosted by The Royal Duchess step team at Westfield High School, which gave a special performance with team alums.

“Without the team the wouldn’t be the person I am today,” said Geraldine De Paula, 17, current team captain. “[Stepping] builds confidence.”

The goal throughout the dance is to make precise movements in unison and with high energy that spreads throughout the auditorium.

That’s what coach Di’Aundria Davis and her Crosby High School step team members noted as they watched their peers. They attended to up their game in future competitions.

“Precision is very important,” Davis said, noting the judges’ similar comment to one of the teams.

While the competition was fierce, the overall sentiment of the day was joy at seeing teens excel at their talents in a community space.

Yoshika Berroud, one of the contest judges, has worked as an educator across Houston over the years. To her, step shows are just one of the many ways to keep kids active, safe and creative.

She pointed to the sets, props, costumes and skits the students created for the show as examples of what can be accomplished when teens are encouraged to think outside the box.

“Kids need an opportunity to share their talents,” Berroud said.

Moments before the contest got underway, the auditorium aisles were packed with teams dancing to the DJ’s beats. They each repped their own style and school pride, which they carried with them onto the stage.

There, the teens spun, slapped, slid, jumped and landed in splits to popular hip-hop, R&B and rap songs or rhythms they created with their bodies. The stepping was all tied together with skits that widely varied in themes from career day at school, to the 1999 Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence comedy, “Life.”

One skit even drew from current events, including Sony’s RCA record label dropping singer R. Kelly following a six-part documentary that focused on decades of sexual abuse allegations against him. During one performances Saturday, a R. Kelly song was cut short just as it began to play.

“We don’t stream R. Kelly,” the performer said to cheers from the audience.

ileana.najarro@chron.com

twitter.com/IleanaNajarro

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