Steppin’ Lesson: The Basic Rhythm

A Little History….

Stepping (or step-dancing) is a form of percussive dance in which the participant’s entire body is used as an instrument to produce complex rhythms and sounds through a mixture of footsteps, spoken word, and handclaps and gestures. Though stepping may be performed by an individual, it is generally performed by groups of three or more, often in arrangements that resemble military formations.

Stepping may also draw from elements of gymnastic, breakdance, tap dance, march, and African and Caribbean dance. The speed of the step depends upon the desired beat and rhythm of the performers. Some forms of stepping include the use of props, such as canes, rhythm sticks and/or fire and blindfolds.

The tradition of stepping is rooted within the competitive schoolyard song and dance rituals practiced by historically African American fraternities and sororities, beginning in the 1900s.

The Bronx’s P.L.A.Y.E.R.S. Club Steppers, a step team that has performed at the White House.

Steppin’ is a dance choreographed and created for RDT in 2003 by Natosha Washington. Having grown up in the South, rhythm, dance, and performance were a natural part of Natosha’s life. Many versions of these rhythms have been taught to dancers at UVU, BYU, and various high schools around the state of Utah over the past 20 years. Steppin’ continues to be a staple of RDT’s dance education performances on stage and in schools. The rhythms taught below were choreographed and created by Natosha Washington and are taught her, with her permission.

The Basic Rhythm

The Basic Rhythm is often taught as the most beginning, basic rhythm a new student should learn. It is made up of stomps and claps. All Steppin’ rhythms, taught and created by Natosha, are learned with words FIRST and then are put into the body.

Start by listening below and following along…

See if you can memorize the series of stomps and claps and do it without looking or following along. Once you have the rhythm memorized, take a look at the video below. Thank you to Nathan Shaw for demonstrating the Basic Rhythm.

Nathan Shaw demonstrating the Basic Rhythm.
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