KAOSS steps up

Published 11:06 pm Thursday, August 14, 2014

A group of middle school students mostly from Suffolk put their best foot forward when they traveled to Georgia recently for a national step-dancing championship.

The youth team of KAOSS Entertainment, which stands for Kids Always on the Same Step, won third place in the nation for all middle school-level step-dancing teams, and were the top Virginia team.

The team also won the Academic Achievement Award for having the highest collective grade point average in the nation.

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The National Step League’s Break the Stage championship was held at Georgia Tech in Atlanta in June.

“They were excited,” said Jamall Evans, president of KAOSS.

Having gotten involved in step dancing at King’s Fork High School in 2005 and 2006, Evans founded KAOSS in August 2008 while working as a summer camp coordinator for Suffolk Parks and Recreation.

By 2011, Evans said, it had grown into an outreach organization, and the team began competing in 2010.

“This past year was our first time on the national step circuit,” he said.

Eleven middle-schoolers in the KAOSS youth division — there’s also a high school team, called Eklipse, and a cadre of parents and other volunteers, known as Lunatic Productions, producing the routines — competed against 129 other teams in Atlanta, according to Evans.

The routine followed the theme of popular TV show “Scandal,” he said, adding, “Somebody had stolen to secrets of KAOSS and was trying to sell them to the highest bidder.”

The team draws from various schools, Evans said, including John F. Kennedy, King’s Fork, John Yeates and Churchland middle schools, as well as Creekside and Nansemond Parkway elementary schools.

Evans has incorporated KAOSS as a nonprofit, and this year it has expanded by partnering with the Boys and Girls Club, he said, adding, “That provides a tremendous amount of support.”

Auditions and then conditioning takes place in the fall, while the competition season is in the spring.

Over the summer, the team engages in community service, Evans said, performing shows for church groups and shelters, for instance.

“I’m not expecting them to come in knowing how step, but we teach them and want to see who’s willing to learn and balance their schedule,” he said.

For those who don’t make the competition teams, there’s always workshops, Evans said, which he holds in coordination with the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts.

“It requires a lot of conditioning,” Evans said of the physical benefits of step dancing.

Participants also learn to appreciate community service, he said, and are part of a close-knit sisterhood and brotherhood that travels extensively.

Performing on college campuses, it’s also motivates the kids to go on to higher education, Evans said.