Black and Gold Dynasty brings the beat to UCF
The beat that can be heard on campus may not be what you would expect. No, it isn't bongo drums, nor the Marching Knights — it's the Black and Gold Dynasty Step Team.
Founded in 2010 by current captains Seyi Akinyooye, a senior health sciences pre-clinical major, and Nacadia Facey, a senior interdisciplinary studies major, the Black and Gold Dynasty Step Team is an unofficial registered student organization that operates under the Black Student Union.
Step dancing, or stepping, is style of dance in which the entire body is used to create complex rhythms and sounds with stomping, clapping, slapping and speaking.
Facey and Akinyooye started the step team when they couldn't find a team that wasn't Greek or religiously affiliated within the UCF community. Both Facey and Akinyooye began stepping when they were in middle school and living in New York, and they met each other at UCF after being introduced by Facey's cousin, who coincidentally graduated from the same high school as Akinyooye.
Akinyooye said that she knew people were interested in step dancing.
"The only people on campus that stepped were Greeks and the Disciples of Christ, the Christian step team," Akinyooye says.
Facey believed in creating a step team that is more social.
"We created the Black and Gold Dynasty Step Team to give people the choice to join without having to be affiliated," Facey says.
Kathleen Milord, a senior marketing major, joined the step team last spring with no experience.
"I had no idea how to step and it was a little harder than I thought it was going to be," Milord said. "Once you figure out how to move your body the right way, it gets easier."
Aside from not being Greek or religiously affiliated, the Black and Gold Dynasty Step Team invites anyone who is interested to join.
"Even though we have tryouts, we don't cut people who don't know how to step or aren't very good," Milord said. "I think other step teams are more serious and that's what makes us different."
In order to perfectly time their stomps, claps and slaps, they record themselves and break off into groups.
"We do this to help our team learn better and to feel more comfortable around each other," Facey said.
The Black and Gold Dynasty step team practices every Monday and Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. It normally takes two weeks to come up with a routine, and when there is an upcoming show they increase the practices to include Sunday and Tuesday.
The step team performed last spring in a showcase called "A Step Through Afrika," which was hosted by the BSU.
"We performed last spring and showed the history of stepping," Facey said. "We began doing tribal African dancing, the gumboot dancing of South Africa, hip-hop in the United States and then modern-day stepping."
Stepping evolved from the mines in South Africa. Authorities forbid the miners to speak or sing, so they began stomping and clapping as form of communication. By the late 1800s, gumboot dancing became a cultural dance in South Africa. The term "gumboot" refers to the rubber Wellington boots that the miners wore.
By the early 1900s it had evolved into stepping and had stomped its way to popularity on college campuses. African-American fraternities and sororities would later hold competitions.
Today, stepping is nationwide and is becoming more well-known. The movie Stomp the Yard brought stepping to the big screen in 2007 and showed the fierce rivalry between two fraternities that competed in step dance.
The Black and Gold Dynasty Step Team's upcoming show in November includes a partnership with Men of Integrity, a Christian organization focused on serving the community through leadership and integrity.
Last year the step team only had five members, and now it has 20. With more members involved, Facey and Akinyooye plan on volunteering more, as well as building partnerships with the Multicultural Academic and Support Services and the Multicultural Student Center.
But to Akinyooye, the step team is more than just stepping.
"The Black and Gold Dynasty Step Team is about building a family, creating friendships and helping the community," Akinyooye said.