Tufts to host 10th annual Break the Stage competition

The 10th annual Break the Stage competition, an intercollegiate step dance contest organized by the African Student Organization (ASO), will take place this Saturday at 7 p.m. in Cohen Auditorium.

The event, which will feature performances from Tufts step teams ENVY and BlackOut, is the result of two months of preparation, according to coordinator Yolaine Cherie.

“The African Student Organization has been planning this event since our return to school,” Cherie, a sophomore, told the Daily in an email. “This is a unique year because BlackOut and ENVY, our very own step teams, have been working hard in collaboration with us to ensure that this event is successful.”

Although the Tufts groups will not compete, 10 other New England institutions, including Boston College and Southern Connecticut State University, will participate in the competition.

“It [will] always be on our turf,” Cherie said. “Because we own the competition, our own elite step teams do not participate. It is a tradition for ENVY to open the show and for BlackOut to close it.”

The annual Break the Stage competition started 10 years ago during the fall of 2003, according to Cherie. ASO, along with members of BlackOut and ENVY, hoped that starting an annual step competition would help to promote step-dance culture at Tufts and in the greater Boston area.

Cherie believes that Break the Stage has made great strides since its inception a decade ago.

“The event with time has become one of the biggest in the area, and it allows teams from all over to showcase their skills and earn bragging rights,” she said.

This year’s competition will remain true to its traditional format, Cherie explained.

“Since it’s the 10th anniversary of Break the Stage, we are not looking to make significant breaks from the tradition of the event,” she said. “However, since this is an important year for the competition, it comes with an eclectic mix of old and new teams with even more passion and intensity than before.”

Menbereselassie Kebede, a freshman member of ENVY, said she has enjoyed being on the team and bonding with her fellow dancers in preparation for the event.

“We put a lot of hard work into everything that we do, but at the end of the day, it’s also a group of great people that not only step together, but also hang out together,” she said. “We have team lunches and have team bonding time too.”

While ENVY will not compete, Kedebe hopes that the team’s efforts will be rewarded on Saturday night.

“We have been preparing for this since basically the beginning of the year,” she said. “It’s our first big show. Our goal is to go out on the stage and have a great show that the audience enjoys.”

Quinesha Tillman, a member of Rhythm Nation Steppaz at the College of the Holy Cross, expressed confidence in her team’s ability to put on a good performance at Break the Stage.

“We have been preparing since October, since that is when our entire team was formed,” Tillman, a senior, told the Daily. “However, we had been thinking about the concept since September.”