Steppin' Up



MCLA's step team, NeXXus, earned first place honors at this year's Steady Steppin' Forward Step Competition at Williams College in an exhilarating win on Saturday, March 6.

"It was very surprising," says Monique Symes '10 of Boston, MA, one of the team's founding members. "I consider the team to be very new. This is our third year and fifth semester together, so we consider ourselves underdogs. Going into this one, everyone put a lot of effort into it."

In addition to MCLA, students from Middlebury College, Siena College and Tufts University participated in the competition, hosted by Williams College. A co-ed team, NeXXus consists of 15 steppers, 10 of whom performed on Saturday.

Maritsa Barros, NeXXus' advisor and MCLA's assistant director of admission for multicultural recruitment, said the competition was daunting.

"For the past five years Tufts University's all-male squad has taken the first place title home.  Our squad thought for sure they would land in second place because Tufts is so tough to beat," Barros said. "This year, MCLA came with a more intricate step routine and very creative uniforms that blew the crowd out of the water."

"We definitely put a lot of different things into the routine that we haven't in the past," Symes says. Their act opened with a skit that revolved around a blue-collar working theme. Posing as janitors, the team wore jumpsuits and bandanas, and used brooms as props.

"We came out to Jay-Z's 'Hard Knock Life' to paint the picture that we were tired of working and we wanted to do something new," explains Symes. "It was very entertaining, from beginning to end."

Clearly a crowd favorite, the team was greeted with cheers from an energetic audience even before they went on stage, as people chanted, "MCLA."  The enthusiasm and cheers continued throughout NeXXus' performance.

Barros says the crowd went wild when it was announced that Tufts took second place.

"We all knew that meant NeXXus was first," she recalls. "Before the host could say their name we all screamed it in the crowd.  It's so hard to describe the joy and excitement after they were announced the winners. It was easy to see based on the squad's reaction on stage. They went wild, it was hilarious! We are all so proud of them!"

Barros says as soon as Symes looked up from screaming and jumping with excitement, she took one look into the crowd and ran straight into the arms of MCLA President Mary Grant. 

"I watched that whole moment and it was so beautiful. It reminded me what is so special about MCLA," Barros says.

To see NeXXus' winning performance, go to