By Peter Edgar
Last Friday, the Multicultural Student Council hosted the Taken By Surprise step dance team as part of its Black History Month lineup of events. This is the second year they have performed at Florida Southern College, and on Friday there were people from the community attending as well as students and faculty from FSC.
The young women of Taken By Surprise, or TBS, as it is also known, performed three routines: one teaser and two full sets. While we cannot reveal all of the details due to the secrecy behind the routines, the last set was an all-new arrangement; it was the girls’ first time performing it in front of an audience.
Between the routines, while some of the team changed costumes, there was a solo act, performed by one of the members of TBS, Ms. Santira Borders. It was her first time performing in front of an audience.
Each routine is founded on the principle of rhythm and synchronization with a backing track, and the TBS team was flawless. In the first few motions of the teaser, all the young women performing stomped, and the floor shook with power.
TBS was founded less than a decade ago but has won 3 national championships in step, a form of dancing that makes use of rhythm and judges for originality, synchronization and energy. They perform in the Florida area and raise money to attend their competitions across America.
Corey Turner, founder of TBS, played basketball for Florida Southern, graduated and is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi, a historically African-American fraternity. He now teaches middle school and was inspired at a young age to give back to the community.
Turner said that he saw early on that the young Black boys in his community had sports and mentors to “keep them off the streets,” and that he wanted to provide an outlet for young women to have those same opportunities for expression and mentorship. The mentor program is designed to help the girls “do what they can to achieve their goals” in terms of leadership and the path to college.
DK, one of the girls on the team, said that if it weren’t for the mentor program she wouldn’t have tried out for Taken By Surprise. TBS’s practice schedule is intense, ranging from two to five days a week. They begin with lunges and laps and progress to full routine practice. Besides physical training, the girls are also held to a strong moral code. Their social media and discipline records are monitored to ensure they represent the team well and as leaders.
The team is made up of girls from a number of schools in the Central Florida area. According to Stephanie, a mother of Sha’Nya, another young woman who performs on the team, there were many girls who tried out, but only 30 made the final cut. She said that her daughter “likes step a lot.” Peanut, a girl who goes to school with one of the TBS performers at Kathleen High School, said that those on the team “have known each other for years” and “are like family.”
In a short talk between routines, Mr. Turner announced the potential creation of a step-camp for 4-8 grade students to attend and cultivate the roots of talent. Turner stated that registration will open in March, if the proposal is approved by the Polk County School Board.
The Simmons Center is offering more events this month, and many of them are worth Passport Credits for Faith and Diversity. Check MocSync or the previous issue of the Southern for more information!