“No Raggidyness!”– It is a mantra that is used prolifically in the final practices leading up to a City Year Detroit Step Team show. Raggidyness may not be a real word, and if taken out of context, the rallying cry can come off as accusatory and cruel, like words that precede a condemnation to Roald Dahl’s pokey. But in reality, it is a call to look sharp, have pride and perform well as a team. It would be a terrible mistake to be intimidated by the motto, because the Step Team is a place where many first time steppers can learn together and “rock out.”
Michelle Udeli, a Senior Corps Member serving at Osborn High School describes one of her favorite aspects of the step team: “I really like it because it forces you to be squishy.” Squishy, of course, is the feeling one gets after pushing him or herself outside of a personal comfort zone; it’s trying something new, taking a risk. Getting squishy is a highly valued action at City Year, and the Step Team gives Corps Members regular opportunities to do that. Michelle is a primo example:
“Last year, I wasn’t even a novice. If there was a category below novice, that was me.” She made up for her greenness with lots and lots of practice, much of it on her own time. Learning and improving is one of the best reasons to join, she says. “The joy when someone gets a step—like me. When I finally did a step back to back and got it correctly, that was a really exciting feeling.” Many of this year’s first time steppers agree with Michelle.
“I’m having a blast!” says Courtney Grady, a Team Leader at Harper Woods High School. Courtney, like Michelle, is new to the game. “I was blessed with two left feet, but I’m definitely learning the rhythm of it, even if I am not getting it like that [she snaps].”
When asked a pointed question about whether she detected any traces of raggedyness a few weeks into the step season, Step Master Adria McKire–a step veteran from Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority–answered smiling and avoided the question with: “We’re growing and we’re building and we’re going to get to a great place.”
by Oliver Hondered