& Culture Dance
Soulstepping: Folk Roots Mixed With Rap
Ritual Dance of Identity & African Heritage
has been happening at college frats and sororities for decades.
The popularity of musicals like Stomp, loosely based on
the rhythms of soulstepping have begun to mainstream this dance/music/art
In her recently
published book Soulstepping: African American
Step Shows, Virginia Tech Professor Elizabeth Fine
has produced the first book to document the history of stepping. According
to Fine, "Stepping is a complex performance that melds folk
traditions with popular culture and involves synchronized percussive
movement, singing, speaking, chanting, and drama."
Fine was introduced
to stepping in 1983 when an African American student in her class
on verbal art invited her to attend a block show on campus. "What
makes stepping so stimulating is the range of movement patterns
and verbal genres it encompasses," Fine writes in the introduction
to the book.
as one way for African American fraternities and sororities to
develop an identity. It became a way for them to poke fun jovially
at rival social organizations..
Fine looks at the history of stepping and its place as a ritual
dance of identity and African heritage. She also looks at new
participants, new venues for the dance, and the cultural politics
of African American step shows.
"Soulstepping explores the process of creating and negotiating identity through
stepping, probing the intersections of verbal and nonverbal performances
as well as issues of cultural politics and the effects of commodification,"
is my hope that Soulstepping will be significant to the
fields of dance, folklore, black studies, performance studies,
communication, and to all those who are drawn to the beauty and
power of African American stepping."
professor and poet Nikki Giovanni said of Fine's book, "
groups have dance steps that the group performs together for the
pure joy of celebrating life. Soulstepping brings out that joy,
that exhilaration, that love of life. This celebration is long
African American Step Shows is published by the University
of Illinois Press.
Tech (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University)
More about soulstepping around the Web:
Stepping (African-American) - Wikipedia