Members of the Twin Creeks Middle School Step Team perform during their recent competition in Orlando.
HOUSTON – Dec. 15, 2017 – The Twin Creeks Middle School Step Team, which has already made a name for itself in Texas during its first two years of performance and competition, traveled to Orlando earlier this month to compete in the Orlando Invitational on Dec. 2, an annual step competition drawing teams from Florida, Georgia, Texas and South Carolina.
The 25-member team representing Twin Creeks dominated the event’s newly launched middle school division, bringing home first place.
“They only invite select teams,” said Twin Creeks Step Coach Lebrandan Jenkins. “Twin Creeks got the invite because we won Stomp Wars last year in Dallas, which is a big, big event. In the step world, you need a good reputation to get the best invites – it’s a system in which trust is important.”
The Orlando competition was the team’s first major foray outside their home state, a transition Jenkins said was important for the team to make as their skills develop.
“I want our kids to compete against the best,” he said. “That requires pushing them to participate not just locally but in regional and national events as well.”
With only one major competitive loss behind them – near the end of the team’s first year – the Twin Creeks team is pushing forward and setting its sights on new opportunities, a move that, according to Jenkins, wouldn’t be possible without dedicated students and the support of parents and others at Twin Creeks.
“It’s a big production, everybody plays a part,” Jenkins said. “I’ve got a good group of kids who work really hard, and probably the best parent support system I could ask for.” Fellow teachers and others at the school have also pitched in to help the team design backdrops and costumes for their routines.
There are currently no UIL rules governing step competitions in Texas, but strict standards are maintained for members of the Twin Creeks team, especially regarding academics. “Academics come first,” Jenkins said. “If students aren’t keeping up their classwork, they won’t be able to participate in the tough practice schedule.” Staying on top of schoolwork is especially important, since the team’s practices can run two or three hours a day, five or six days a week. “It requires a lot of dedication and commitment,” said Jenkins.
Because step incorporates rigorous physicality, blending complex movements with well-honed choreography, it can blur the lines between art and sport. New skills are learned and developed not just through practice, Jenkins explained, but also by observing other teams at work to see how they incorporate their own distinctive rhythms and styles into the basic building blocks of step.
“The step world really is bigger than what people think,” Jenkins said. “The spectrum it’s grown to is amazing. It’s gotten very competitive, as well.”
The Twin Creeks group is now getting ready for another local competition in Houston in January before the season kicks into high gear, with the step team heading back to Florida for a competition in Tallahassee in February. Then several other big competitions later in the spring will include defending their Stomp Wars title in Dallas.
“Step is built on culture and character,” Jenkins said. “It’s such a pleasure and a thrill to see what the students are capable of, and the Orlando invite says a lot about what we’re doing here at Twin Creeks. It’s not just Texas anymore.”