Behind the scenes of the RCMS step team

A look inside how the step team operates


Photo by: Yishak Kelkay

Picture of the Step Team practicing their routine for the Shamrock Fest in the RCMS Gym.

The RCMS step team competed against Herndon and Lanier MS in the Shamrock Fest competition at Stone MS on April 27, landing the second place spot.

The Shamrock Fest is a competition where middle-school dance teams perform in front of a public audience. The teams are then evaluated by a group of judges and are ranked with the dance teams that are amongst the same genre of dance. The competition has step, hip-hop and contemporary.

“We were really stressed in the beginning,” shared Manavi Lamichane, 14, of the Explorers team and captain of the step team. “We hadn’t finished everything yet and we had two hours to practice and we were practicing the whole time. When we got to the competition part, we were so tired and we were just, like, trying our best to finish it.”

The dance competition was supposed to be in March, for St. Patrick’s Day, but it was delayed.

“A step team is a group of girls and boys who do step dancing,” explains Rahel Teni, 13, from the All-Stars team and also a member of the RCMS step team. “I would define step as a form of dancing where you pat different parts of your body like your legs, arms, and ground.”

Modern step dancing was first performed in the 1900s in African-American college fraternities and sororities. It incorporates dance skills and techniques found from dances in Africa and the Caribbean.

“The step team has been here since I was teaching here, and I’ve been teaching here for eight years,” shared Mrs. Sarah Murphy, a teacher on the Majestics team and advisor of the step team.

Ms. Joanne Fraundorfer, a counselor here at RCMS, became the advisor of the step team in 2007, nine years after she thinks it originated in 1998.

“I don’t know the exact year it started, but I can for sure say it was going strong in 2005,” says Ms. Fraundorfer. “I think there was a group of students who were interested in step and in starting a group because other middle schools, like Herndon, already had step teams.”

This is Mrs. Murphy’s first year as the RCMS step team advisor. She has not done step herself, but she has participated in dance before.  She only had positive words for the whole team.

“They are incredibly talented, engaged, focused, really motivated and hardworking,” said Mrs. Murphy.

Although they might make it look easy, the steps to making a routine take lots of trial and error along with time and thought. The RCMS step team consists of 17 people and they all have to work together to make the routine work.

“You just do whatever. It’s like we would be thinking about something and then like, let’s say we listen to a song and we just try to copy the beat and then we make a step out of it,” said Manavi.

Manavi, when asked about her friendships on the team, mentioned her co-captains.

“Linda Nikabou, my co-captain, is my best friend. My other co-captain [Smera Siwakoti] is also my best friend,” remarked Manavi “It’s like we’re a big, close family.”

Although Carson placed second this year, Manavi is optimistic for the captains next year–Ariyah Culbreath, Rahel Teni, Kai Whitaker. They held tryouts on May 2.

“I think they are going to do a lot better next year,” she said, “since last year we did good, this year we did better, so next year we will do great.”