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UB Step Troupe keeps on stepping

Despite ups and downs, team is still in full force

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Resilient is the best way to describe the UB Step Troupe (UBST).

Despite reputation and miscommunication problems that caused its membership to drop from the largest club on campus to a much smaller group, UBST celebrates its 23rd year of performing and competing.

“In the beginning, UBST was … larger than the Black Student Union,” said Rayna Moncrieffe, the club president and a senior accounting major. “We had one of the largest budgets on campus. Over time we continued to decrease and became a smaller club than when we started.”

The club was well known for having many members that would put on huge performances, but now has only 30 members – and the e-board makes up half of this number.

Moncrieffe is aiming to help build the club back up and put UBST back on the map around campus.

“A couple years back, UBST was known to be, well, over the top,” said Jordan Hall, a senior psychology major and the team’s costume liaison. “There was a lot of cattiness and dealing with attitude problems. The team wasn’t presented in the best light.”

According to Hall, word got around that the team wasn’t the most friendly. Current members think that this might have been the reason for decreased turnout at tryouts. As a freshman on the team, Hall recounts experiencing miscommunication among team members.

While the group has had its fair share of rocky moments internally, external factors have played a role in the club’s obstacles, members said.

“When you’re dealing with a lot of the people inside of Student Association, there’s a lot of miscommunication, misinformation or plain out not knowing what’s happening,” Moncrieffe said.

Moncrieffe has been on the team since freshman year and has moved through various e-board positions including secretary, activities coordinator and treasurer.

Most people hear about the UB Step Troupe (UBST) and associate it with the art of stepping and maybe a performance or two on campus – but the club does more. It also performs and competes at other local area colleges and participates in community engagement.

“My most memorable moment was Black Explosion 2014. It was one of my last big performances. It was so well put together. Just to complete the entire step felt so good. The way the crowd reacted was amazing,” Moncrieffe said.

Yanava Hawkins, UBST vice president and a senior communication and health and human services major, remembers a competition at local Canisius College as her most memorable UBST moment.

“Freshmen year, Canisius College competition – our first competition. Our energy was amazing, and we won,” Hawkins said.

UBST is asked to travel to other colleges to perform, including at Binghamton University for its Caribbean Week.

UBST volunteers at a high school stepping program for select Buffalo high schools. The group advertises stepping and empowerment. At some of its events, the team encourages high school students to go to college and uses stepping as an example for a possible outlet for prospective college students.

Other events include high school competitions, a Halloween party and an open mic night in honor of the passing of one of their former teammates.

Full of zeal and attitude, the step team has always managed to make their mark on campus. Throughout all of their obstacles and roadblocks the step team has always remained a cohesive unit. This year is no different.

“Depending on what you do as a group, you can be very successful if you put the time and energy into it,” Hawkins said.

Hawkins hopes that the club gains a higher budget and also emphasizes positivity this upcoming school year. She also wants the team as whole to be known more throughout campus.

Through everything, the team says they remain a family. UBST member and sophomore business management major Delilah Murray considers her teammates to be family.

“Around them you can be yourself,” Murray said. “Around them I feel like I won’t be judged. Whenever I’m around them I just have this homey feeling,”

Ty Adams is a staff writer and can be reached at features@ubspectrum.com


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