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Youth drill team returns art of stepping to Montbello

The non-profit youth organization teaches kids the art of step, a dance deeply embedded in Black history.

DENVER — With every single stomp and clap, The Colorado Community Elite Drill Team moves as one.

The non-profit youth organization teaches kids the art of step, a dance deeply embedded in Black culture, "whose sole purpose is to unite youth of all ethnicities with the intent of creating, self-confident, resilient goal seekers and goal achievers," the organization says on their website.

Step is something that's often passed from generation to generation, deeply rooted in Black history.

"It’s derived from back in the day in the slavery times," Lynn King-Jackson, the team's advisor, said. "Step was the only way they could communicate and so through this origin, we are exhibiting their talents and their expertise."

It also has ties to World War I when soldiers came back from war and "joined colleges," Stephanie Murray, one of the team's coaches, said. "They started doing militaristic movements and also moved in dance."

Today, step helps to instill confidence in Black youth.

"The drill team has taught me how to be brave and just go for it," Da'Vida Jones, one of the team's members, said.

"It's very important because it does bring in their character," King-Jackson said. "It teaches them integrity."

Step also teaches the girls on the team to lean on each other.

"That makes it bigger than you and also you know it doesn't exist without you," Murray said.

Along with the history and culture, this specific team also incorporates spirituality.

"We do rely on God," coach Amber Tyler said. "Without him, we're nothing. So we want that to be known that we are, and that we are teaching it and that we are living it. We're just here to show the girls that there's another part of life."

"I want to get closer to God," Ariel Westbrooks, another team member, said. "I want to go home. This is not our forever home."

That bigger purpose is also steeped in legacy.

"They are creating a legacy and so in order to create one, I think you need to respect a legacy that was before you," Murray said, adding it's a step to become part of a bigger history. "There may be little girls shouting your name 100 years from now, 50 years from now because of what you did."

On April 8, Colorado Community Elite Drill Team will perform at Overland High School as part of Showcase of Stars.


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