What started off as a traditional African dance processional at Doheny Memorial Library turns into an interactive dance performance in the ballroom of the Ronald Tutor Campus Center. The hypnotizing blue and yellow outfits of the Viver Brasil dancers and drummer ignited what would be an action-filled night for the "And Still We Rise" dance workshop.

On Tuesday evening, this dance workshop celebrated people of color who create a sense of community through the arts. At the event, there were a significant amount of people from the local area who were enthusiastic to participate in the evening’s activities. The age and cultural backgrounds varied greatly at this event, ranging from small children with their families to senior citizens jamming out on their own.

There were many interactive dance events throughout the evening, spanning from traditional African dance to a choreographed upbeat Bruno Mars number. One performance that especially stood out was a step routine taught by Vernon Jackson. Step is a type of dance with sharp movements and turns resembling those of a soldier. Immediately taking control over the room with a “Steppers, attention!” Jackson quickly jumped into the extensive choreography.

Vernon Jackson is known as an icon in the step community partially due to helping step become more of a mainstream dance. He choreographed step routines on iconic shows such as the “Fresh Prince of Bel Air” and “House Party 2”, worked in step competitions, and has his own step fitness film. He says he is a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, the first African American fraternity, previously having members such as Martin Luther King Jr. “Stepping originated at Alpha Phi Alpha,” says Jackson. He explains how stepping used to be a way to get young African American students to get a higher education. “You couldn’t even step unless you were in a black frat or sorority” Jackson elaborates. The selectiveness of step inspired younger African American students to go to college so they could participate in these popular dances.

The event was organized by Tamica Washington-Miller, a distinguished individual in dance theatre. She is the associate director of Lula Washington Dance Theatre and is the daughter of the founders of the company. This event was the kick-starter for the annual International Association of Blacks in Dance conference, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. The conference is having events that span the duration of a week, with events such as performances and master workshops. The goal of IABD is to preserve and promote the beauty of dance by people of African ancestry or origin.
And still they rise, with a successful dance workshop under their belt, and many more to come.