The Steppin Highlights of 2016 Back
Jan 2, 2017
By Tracey Bivens
As 2016 winds down, a year of steppin highlights winds down with it. Here’s a summary:
The Next Gen Steppers
I always seem to come up with nicknames and catch phrases as it relates to steppin…I can’t help it. In steppin, it’s only natural to pass the torch and witness the burgeoning talent of the next generation of steppers who have fallen in love with the dance. I just wanted to take an opportunity to acknowledge and sing the praises of some of the featured stand out steppers on both the national and local scene of steppin. John Lucas (New York) made his presence known and felt at the 2016 Rockin Rodney Mack’s White Party with his dazzle and flair on the dance floor by steppin and Latin Hustling. His performance was one for the books! He also provided one hell of an interview on Chistepper.com that’s left everyone shook that read it. Chicago’s Shawn Bandy, William Barnes and Rich Jackson have definitely put their mark on that generation of highly skilled male steppers to come out of Chicago when it was thought that there would be no more after the Tyk Myn and Dre Blackwell era. Ohio has also made its presence felt with April Simmons, Joy Bufford, Aki Carter, Choc James, Choc’s Suga and Clint Rockward (even though Clint is from Chicago, he just came back on the scene and has not missed a beat!). Last but not least, I can’t forget to mention the team out of Detroit that has commanded the dance floor lately like Oni Faulkner, Marc Wilson, Kimberly Danzy, Amanda Anderson, Nakisha Wallace Nabors, Nicole Jones, Arnel “Tech” Cross, Wakeba Reid, Karron and Onekki Louris and last but not least…Taylar Raymond. Be on the lookout for this young lady and her smooth as silk brand of steppin. I absolutely love seeing these young people fall in love with the dance and not succumbing to the negativity or politics of the dance. They get on the floor, do their thing and that’s it! Bravo to the “younglings”.
Triumphs off of the Floor
I definitely applaud the social media hotline for allowing us to pray with and for our steppin families who have lost loved ones this past year and the ones who continue the charge for prayer like Florida’s Allen Jones (via Angela Coko Hardnett) and Milwaukee’s Lynette Ivy Rout’s husband Douglas Rout. Shout outs also go out to Deontay Farr for making a smooth transition to Baton Rouge, Louisiana with uplifting progress reports from parents Mykel “Shorty Smooth” and Deon Farr. The Farrs were very instrumental in bring attention to Autism Awareness in the steppin community on a local and national level. I also want to acknowledge my “pen pal” Markie Bee of SteppersUSA.com persevering through his recent health challenges.
Our Shining Prince
Unless you are living under a rock, Drewry Alexander, is a household name in the Detroit and national steppin community. Detroit has had to say goodbye (for a little while) to The Phenom as he moves his residence to the state of Texas. Now I must say this about Drew because I have to acknowledge his stature as a young man in the steppin community and in life. I have known Drew since the age of 9 and have seen him tackle and master most of the dances he learned over time. I don’t know one person who can see a move and mimmick it within seconds and add something to it with flair…except Drew. More importantly, I have watched him over the years get dragged by people to his face, behind his back on social media and not one time…not one time…has this young man ever clapped backed at anyone! What manner of man is this raised by Anthony and Nora Alexander but one of true character and substance. While his candid and assertiveness may be misconstrued by some as arrogance, Drew has remained true to his self and his craft. Detroit wishes Drew much success in his endeavors and his continuous growth.
Ladies Taking the Lead
I made the prediction about three years ago that ladies leading the dance would become an epidemic and it has. Knowing both the lead and the following parts of any dance can only make you a more skilled stepper in my opinion. All of my heroes and sheroes out of Chicago can do both. As far as some of the ladies who love to lead, I’m digging Sarah Teagle, April Simmons, Ann Hunter, Deon Farr, Charnice Simmons, Lady Margaret Fisher, Jeany Bradley, and Shelly Holder.
Sounds of Blackness
Talk about cream rising to the top! DJs Michael “DJ Black Cool” Thornton and Myron Robinson out of Chicago have caused a major uproar. Not since Mykel Farr have I seen such a frenzy to get steppin DJs booked around the country. I am a huge fan of both gentlemen. Being a musical host is just like steppin, there is always someone who is up and coming ready to share the spotlight with others who are already standing in it.
In 2017 I’m looking forward to….
- The dance continuing to grow in the communities without losing its original flavor
- New steppers learning the history of the dance in Chicago AND the history of how steppin came to THEIR city. We must do better with this.
- Steppers embracing Original Style and New Skool and making it their own because both styles are here to stay
- Seeing continued support of Iary Israel’s Steppaganza, Rockin Rodney Mack’s White Party, Jeff Clark’s I Love Steppin Anniversary Weekend, The Steady Steppers Vegas Jam, Steve Brown’s Adult Steppers Spring Break, and the countless other mega stepper events around the country
- Seeing steppers coming to dance and less judging and conversation about the way someone is steppin, who a real stepper is versus a non real stepper, who’s teachin who and how many contests someone has won
I wish everyone continued prosperity, health and peace of mind! We are all going to really need the distraction of steppin to get us through this new regime of government that’s coming our way and there’s not going to be any room for negativity on the dance floor.