February 2007 Volume 3, Issue 5

Alums 'Step' Into Big screen spotlight

If members of the College community were paying close attention during the competition scenes toward the end of Sony’s blockbuster major motion picture, Stomp the Yard, chances are they may have recognized a few familiar faces.

Dem Boyz Group"We didn’t have any speaking parts," said Ike Anyanwu of Irvington, a 2006 TCNJ alum and a current graduate student at Stevens Institute of Technology.  "We just taped a two-minute performance [of which] they only showed about five seconds, but it was good nonetheless."

Anyanwu is a member of Dem Boyz, the step team that got its start on TCNJ’s campus and is currently receiving some serious media attention for its numerous awards, television appearances, and, now, film roles.

Step dancing or “stomping” has its roots in traditional African culture. Its modern incarnation was developed by black fraternities and sororities at around the middle of the 20th century.

"[This opportunity] was a big milestone in Dem Boyz’ journey”

In 2003, a few members of the Xi Pi chapter of the Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity at TCNJ and nearby Rider University decided to capitalize on the stepping skills that many had picked up in high school, and formed their own team.  It was only a short matter of time before the team began traveling the country, collecting more than 20 first-place awards and honors along the way.

The team currently consists of 10 steppers from colleges across the state, all brothers of Phi Beta Sigma.  In addition to Anyanwu, TCNJ steppers include Desmond McDonald of Mt. Laurel, Anton Vallie of Plainfield, and Greggy Amisial of East Orange. Recently, they’ve performed at such notable events as CBS sportscaster James Brown’s JB Awards and Grammy award-winning singer Usher’s New Look Banquet. Dem Boyz gained national recognition after taking the title of Stomping on the Yard National Step Team Champions, which earned them an appearance on a November 2006 ESPN documentary on the art of stepping.

After coming across some Stomp the Yard buzz on the Internet, Dem Boyz decided to seek out the opportunity to appear in the film, said Anyanwu. “We sent in our tape, and they called us,” he said. “Then we drove to DC, auditioned, and then got a call that we were in.”

Dem Boyz Trophy “It was a big milestone in Dem Boyz’ journey,” he said.

Dem Boyz filmed the scenes over the course of one day.  “The filming was pretty cool,” said Anyanwu.  “We were there walking next to Meagan Goode, Ne-Yo, Keith Sweat, Jazzy Fizzle, Suede,” listing the film’s stars and some of today’s most popular hip-hop musical acts. In fact, he added, “we ate with Jazzy Fizzle and Keith Sweat. That was cool.”

The film was number-one at the box office for two consecutive weekends after it premiered on January 12.  As of February 1, it has made over $50 million at the box office.

Stomp the Yard may be just the beginning for these burgeoning movie stars.  Look for Dem Boyz in Sienna Films’ independent feature How She Move, which recently premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.

To watch Dem Boyz in action on CBS’s The Early Show, which aired nation-wide on September 25, 2006, visit: http://www.cbsnews.com/sections/i_video/main500251.shtml?id=2037193n.

Video of Dem Boyz at practice, courtesy of The Star-Ledger and YouTube, is available at: http://www.youtube.com/v/8uJ126kZ4Tg.