On their own, determined teens get in step


February 11, 2002|By Lisa Breslin | Lisa Breslin,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

ASHLEY ROSS, Ashley Chase and Torres Snowden have step-danced together since they were little kids. They say they have always loved the sound, the rhythms, and the moves of this percussive dance form.

When their middle and high school friends complained about having little to do, the trio stomped, clapped and called out step moves over and over until everyone caught on. They not only caught on, they loved it.

Now, as many as 12 middle and high school students make up the dance group called Steppers in Motion. They meet in front of Ashley Ross' Westminster home on Charles Street four days a week and in a local church hall one day a week to hammer out routines.

No adults, no sponsors, no money are involved - just lots of down time, talent and the diehard desire to dance have brought these kids together for the past year.

They danced for the first time before an audience in Westminster's annual Halloween Parade. With fabric paint and glitter, they turned T-shirts and jeans into slick uniforms.

"Dancing gives us something to do and keeps us out of trouble," said Ashley Ross, an eighth-grader at East Middle School. "Ever since the Halloween parade, I've felt like it's something we can give back to this place."

Many of the dance steps performed by Steppers in Motion start with her. She learns steps from friends in Washington, then she and Torres, a Westminster High freshman, "take those old steps and add on new moves" before teaching them to the other steppers, Torres explained.

"I was overwhelmed when I saw how good they are," said Rhonda Brown, mother of Shyreese Brown, a Westminster High School student who is in Steppers in Motion. "If they are this good doing this all alone, imagine how they can be with help."

"When my daughter first asked if she could join the group, my first reaction was negative, I have to admit," said Donna Cook, mother of Dionna Moore, a seventh-grader at West Middle School and a member of the step team.

"I thought it was just a bunch of kids goofing around, but it's amazing what they have taught her," Moore said. "I think it's great that they have something to do to blow off steam. Hopefully, they'll find some adults or mentors to show them more steps and keep them motivated."

The group has big plans for the future that include new uniforms, new moves, and more public performances. One day, they hope to participate in the national stepteam contest. This year's competition, StepFest 2002, will be held Friday and Saturday at the Baltimore Arena. Steppers in Motion members want to attend to learn new moves.

"Five years from now I hope we'll be dancing at the Apollo in New York," said Ashley Ross. "I'm into cosmetology and fashion designs, too, but I'd like to dance and live in New York."

Other Steppers in Motion members include: Brittany Harris, Sieara Saunders, Amanda Jones, Shayla Brightful, Chynna Butler, Tiffany Magruder, Quianna Battle, Adrienne Battle, Sheena Groomes and Chris Batts.

Learning about mehndi

More than 20 West Middle School pupils stayed after school last week with the Multicultural Club to learn about the traditional folk art form called mehndi.

In the common form of temporary body adornment that transcends cultures, a henna paste is used as dye to decorate the skin, most often hands and feet, with designs. Faculty advisers Sharon Schuster and Saranne Edwards showed participants how to make the patterns that range from the geometric patterns of Islamic designs to the paisleys and intricate lace-like drawings from Africa, Asia, Polynesia and the Americas.

Using markers, pupils created designs on paper before decorating their hands.

"Allowing someone to draw on your hand is an exercise in trust," said Edwards, a special education resource teacher.

"The hand art lesson is a fun and motivating activity on the surface," said Schuster, a Spanish I and eighth-grade reading teacher. "But we also like to see the kids working together, having fun, while absorbing the important message of tolerance and an awareness of diversity."

A Living Treasure

Finksburg resident Marilyn Morton honors Connie Rooney as her Living Treasure this week. The two friends met 27 years ago when their sons were in swim class together at the local YMCA.

"Connie is upbeat, funny and always ready to go and do something at the spur of the moment," said Morton. "When my Dad was seriously ill a few years ago and I couldn't do many things because I was housebound with him, Connie always called and invited me to go out. She just never let up with her friendship.

"We have a mutual friend who has cancer now, and Connie is the one who takes care of arranging meals, and staying in touch. She is a dear friend to me and to many other people."

Brighten the day of someone who has made a difference in your life. Submit a name and specific reasons why that person has been your living treasure to: Lisa Breslin, 35 Ridge Road, Westminster 21157, 410-848-4703.

Lisa Breslin's Central Carroll neighborhood column appears each Monday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.

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