5, 6, 7, 8 … Renegades step onto campus

By Lauren Leazenby, Staff Reporter

Steven Nunez
Founders of the Columbia Renegades Steppers Sean Sturdivant (left) and Jada Rice (right) said they grew up with the form of dance.

Drawing inspiration from African song and dance, stepping is a rhythmic, percussive form of dance that uses the body as an instrument. Developed chiefly in black fraternities and sororities at historically black colleges and universities, and popularized in the 20th century, the art of stepping has made its way to Columbia as the newest sports team: the Renegades Steppers.

Renegades Steppers Founder and Leader Sean Sturdivant, a freshman musical theatre major said the tradition of stepping is something he is careful to be respectful of, specifically by making sure not to plagiarize other teams’ routines.

“One big thing is that you don’t want to steal other people’s chants or [their] little signals,” Sturdivant said.

Marketing director for Renegades Steppers Jada Rice, a freshman cinema and television arts major, said she is hoping to bring the heritage of stepping to Columbia. Though she feels Columbia is a diverse environment, she said the team is trying to bring in something students may not have access to.

The Renegades Steppers do not have the connection to Greek Life that other steeping teams do, but the steppers have found a home as a sports team instead.

Although the team does not have ties to Greek Life, Rice said she aims to bring a sense of community to the team by being accepting of everyone.

“We grew up doing this, and we want to continue it on and branch it out so other people can get the experience of it without having to join a sorority,” Rice said.

Going forward, Sturdivant said the Renegade Steppers will perform with the Columbia Renegades Dance Team at its Winter Showcase Friday, Dec. 6, and will host their own showcase the following day. Rice said the team will also have a presence at Manifest.

The team already has a five-person board and added four new members from their Saturday, Oct. 26 tryouts, but Sturdivant said he hopes to add more members.

Sturdivant said a second round of tryouts will be held next semester, and his hope is to have enough members for a junior varsity and a varsity squad.

Rice said she is excited about this potential expansion and increasing awareness of the team on campus for all the hard work they have put in so far.

“We’re trying to make this a successful team so that when we leave, we can pass down the baton … and have this become one of the legendary things Columbia has,” Rice said.