The step group Participating in the Lives Among Youth to Educate and Restore Society (P.L.A.Y.E.R.S.) showed off their rhythmic moves during their show in the Student Center Pit on last Thursday.

The Feb. 4 show featured routines from different influences, including music artists, movies and the step dance’s origins in Africa. The performers created unanimous rhythm by stomping their feet, clapping and slapping various parts of the body.

Finding it difficult to keep an audience entertained solely with their step dancing, the P.L.A.Y.E.R.S. combat boredom by telling jokes, talking to the audience and inviting students to the stage to learn step.

One of the major themes of the event was elaborating on the history of step and how it’s still alive and well in dance today.

“[Step] was passed down from our founders who made this fraternity in 1963, so everything we did onstage our founders had a hand in,” said Calvin M. Brown Jr., a senior psychology major and president of the National Pan-Hellenic Council, a conglomerate of African American fraternities and sororities.

Edward “King Ed” Nelson, CEO and founder of the P.L.A.Y.E.R.S. Club, began the step team in March 1996. Although step began as a way for African slaves in America to communicate without their owners knowing, Nelson’s adoption of the dance form was for a more personal reason.

“The true story is a girl broke up with me and she cheated on me,” Nelson said. “I first named the group ‘The Players’ for the real hood version of what a player is, meaning somebody who has different people.”

This continued until a local chapter fraternity pointed out the impact the group had on youth, encouraging Nelson to think about creating a business through his group, using it to influence the children around them. Nelson then created the now used acronym P.L.A.Y.E.R.S., emphasizing community and personal success to those who worked with them.

“That’s what a real ‘player’ is,” Nelson said, “somebody who helps further themselves in life.”

After every performance, the audience responded with applause and whoops of enjoyment.

“The enthusiasm was really high,” said Anisa Adkins, a junior music education major. “Being a musician, I can appreciate when rhythm is on point, and they were really good. Everything was clean, it was really together and that’s something to look for in a good step show.”

“The show was great,” said Jamira Price, a freshman biomedical engineering major. “It was so fun, so upbeat and it was just amazing with the theatrics and the stepping.”

When the show ended, many of the performers expressed their love for the group they consider their brothers and sisters.

“Blood means nothing when it comes to family,” one of the P.L.A.Y.E.R.S., Brittney Reid said. “[The P.L.A.Y.E.R.S.] are my family. I have never met a group of people who have influenced my life so much.”

Performing at Rowan for the third time, Nelson and his P.L.A.Y.E.R.S. continue to return to share what they love to do with the students.

“There’s no real message behind our show, just enjoy life,” Nelson said. “If you love to do something, then do it. Don’t worry about what nobody else says.”

– Featured image:  – The P.L.A.Y.E.R.S. pose just as their performance ends in the Student Center Pit. The group of Step dancers that participated in “America’s Got Talent.” in 2006. – Photo Editor/Justin Fata

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