White Squad's Step Dance Win Draws Criticism

View Comments ()



    Stepping is a rhythmic dance style that uses claps, stomps and shouts to make an infectious beat.

    A group of white sorority sisters have won a national competition for a dance style popularized by black sororities.

    Jessica Simmons, of Southlake, now a University of Arkansas student, was on the Zeta Tau Alpha team that was declared the winner of the Sprite Step Off Challenge 2010 in Atlanta.

    Controversy Over Step Dance Competition Win

    [DFW] Controversy Over Step Dance Competition Win
    A group of white performers has won a national step dance competition. (Published Friday, March 5, 2010)

    Zeta’s win sparked controversy among some, who complained about an all-white team winning a competition that was designed to bring attention to a traditionally black experience.

    "They gave us a standing ovation and then turned around and booed us,” Simmons said. “So, I didn't really understand, but you know, it's something hard to grasp, and it's new and it's different from what they've been used to for the past 50, 60 years of them stepping, so I had to kind of take the good with the bad.”

    Stepping is a rhythmic dance style that uses claps, stomps and shouts to make an infectious beat. The style was created -- and made famous by -- black sororities and fraternities.

    A few days after the win, Sprite, the sponsor, announced a “scoring discrepancy” and named another sorority -- the Alpha Kappa Alpha squad from Indiana University -- a co-winner. Each team received $100,000 in scholarship money.

    Simmons said her team worked hard to perfect their style and do well at the competition. They practiced five days a week, plus up to eight hours on Sundays.

    “The only way to change their minds is to step more and to show them that we are good and that we did deserve it, “ Simmons said of people who complained. “But you know, you can’t change everybody’s minds,” she said. “I mean, people are used to the way things are.”

    Simmons described the competition as a life-changing experience.

    "When there's 5,000 people looking at you in this leather costume…and then you start stepping and they're cheering for you, all those two years of work that we put in, it feels worth it,” she said.

    Here are links to both winning performances: