Ask anyone these days if they have recently seen a competitive dancing show on television, and I think most will answer in the affirmative. With the likes of “America’s Best Dance Crew,” “So You Think You Can Dance” and “Dancing With the Stars” on television, it’s hard not to occasionally see a dance show when you’re flipping through the channels.
All of these shows have a certain draw — each show has something that makes people want to watch. Some say the combination of rhythm, music, costumes and crazy moves is hypnotic. Others are amazed at what others can do with their bodies. What people don’t always think about is the time and dedication required to reach this level of skill. The College of William and Mary has its very own version of these two shows now, an annual competition known as Stompfest.
When Adreanne Stephenson ’11 volunteered to be one of two Step-Mistresses for Delta Sigma Theta, one of the College’s historically black sororities, step team this year, she thought it would be a fun and new experience she didn’t anticipate that it would also be a challenging and demanding position.
“At first I was like, oh my gosh, why did I do this?” Stephenson said. “In addition to our normal practices, I would also have to meet with the other Step-Mistress. I’ve been devoting around 20 hours each week since the middle of September.”
However, Stephenson said it has all been worth it. With the teaching portion out of the way, the intense practices this week have just been to fine-tune the team’s routine.
“It has been a great learning experience,” Stephenson said. “This will help me for next year because I would like to be a Step-Mistress again.”
Stephenson and LaShena Southerland ’10 started choreographing Delta Sigma Theta’s step routine for this year’s Homecoming Stompfest at the beginning of September. Together with six other step teams, they will compete this Saturday at 8 p.m. in the Sadler Center Commonwealth Auditorium.
Stompfest, sponsored by the William and Mary Black Student Organization, has become a yearly staple showcasing the talents of various step teams. This year, seven step teams are participating in the event including the College of William and Mary’s chapters of Delta Sigma Theta, Omega Psi Phi and Alpha Phi Alpha. It will also include step teams from other Virginia schools, including Zeta Phi Beta from Virginia Tech and Sigma Gamma Rho from Virginia Commonwealth University.
“Stepping is an integral component in the legacies of all historically black Greek collegiate fraternities and sororities and because of this, we take an immense amount of pride into every stomp, clap and yell,” Alpha Phi Alpha President William Morris III ’11, said.
Morris also had Stephenson’s appreciation of the extreme dedication of the steppers.
“We all take this show very seriously, and we have put a great amount of passion and dedication into practices that often have stretched late into the night and early into the morning three to six times a week,” he said. “I am extremely proud of all of my brothers for their effort in maintaining all of the extensive work our chapter does on and off campus while simultaneously keeping up our taxing schedule of step.”
Each team’s performance is between 12 and 15 minutes long and has a particular theme. Blair Smith ’11 and Dannon Wilson ’10, both members of Delta Sigma Theta, explained that each team’s theme is a secret, adding an element of surprise to each routine.
“No, I don’t want our theme in The Flat Hat tomorrow morning,” Stephenson said.
A $1,000 prize will be given to both the best sorority and best fraternity, so members see secrecy as a way to protect their originality.
Ashley Bush ’10, co-president of the Black Student Organization, has a positive attitude about this year’s event.
“This is my second show that I am hosting, and I personally think it is going to be one of the best,” she said. “I must say I can’t wait.”
Tickets have already gone on sale at the Center for Student Diversity. Tickets are $7 for general admission and $5 for Greeks and will also be on sale Saturday before the show at 6 p.m.
The high energy of the show will continue in Tidewater with an after-party featuring DJ Skip. Tickets for the after-party are $5 before 11 p.m. and $7 for general admission. Greeks may purchase $3 before 11 p.m. and $5 after. The after-party is meant to be a time to mingle with performers from the show and will serve as a release for the dedicated performers after many weeks of preparation.
“This Saturday night in the Commonwealth will be a night to remember,” Morris said. “I hope all the frats [and sororities] bring their A-game because we are about to shut it down.”