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Stepping is a percussive dance movement that uses the hands, feet, arms and legs to create polyrhythmic sounds. Beginning as early as the 1920s, African American fraternities and sororities used chants and coordinated movement to express solidarity. By the 1970s the art form had become more elaborate in movement and rhythm, and grew to incorporate competitions. Today it is performed in both Greek and non-Greek organizations in colleges across the country, as well as in high schools and church communities.


Step dance has close resemblance to South African gumboot dancing, which originated in South African mines in the late 1800s. During that period, Black miners worked under oppressive conditions. Hot mines, strenuous work, and the inability to communicate freely with one another provoked them to use rhythm as a means of release and expression. They wore gumboots (tall boots) to protect themselves from the contaminated water in the mines. To communicate, they would create rhythms by slapping on the sides of the boots. Soon, this practice became a cultural dance form with song.


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