Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Celebrating history, rhythm and relevance at Heritage Village

Dunedin High School step team coordinator Cindy Robinson, center, gets thanks from students, from left, Courtnae Burch, Destinie Harris and Keyanna Davis during a recent team practice.


Dunedin High School step team coordinator Cindy Robinson, center, gets thanks from students, from left, Courtnae Burch, Destinie Harris and Keyanna Davis during a recent team practice.

The 12 girls played out the beat in unison. They slapped their legs and clapped three times. Before they turned and marched across the gymnasium floor, they made one giant stomp with their pink shoes. "Let me see you do that over again,'' said Cindy Robinson. "It was a little off.'' The girls scooted back in line. They started the routine again.

The Dunedin High School Omni Steppers team is one of 16 Florida groups preparing for the two-day Step-Off Extravaganza this weekend.

The first part of the competition will be Friday night at Dunedin High School. On Saturday, during the popular Florida African American Heritage Celebration at Heritage Village, three teams from four age categories will advance and compete for a chance to be named the Best Step Team in Florida.

The four categories are elementary school, middle school, high school, and college and community level.

Stepping is a historically black art form. Each team member plays a heavily rhythmic beat using his or her body as the instrument.

Robinson, a physical education teacher, is the coordinator for the Step-Off Extravaganza. She started the Dunedin High step program 16 years ago.

The winners not only have to demonstrate excellence in choreography and teamwork, but also must succeed in incorporating the theme, "Speak out against drugs, violence and racism,'' in their routines, Robinson said.

The stepping competition is only one of the draws for the African American Heritage Celebration, now in its 12th year.

Presented by the Pinellas County African American History Museum, the free event also will include gospel music, storytelling, ethnic food booths and history presentations, said Randy Lightfoot, a St. Petersburg College professor and president of the museum.

There will also be an added element to this year's program. At 3 p.m. Saturday inside the Pinellas Room at Heritage Village, between 20 and 30 students from Pinellas County high schools will participate in a youth forum exploring reasons young black males struggle in school.

Last August, the Schott Foundation for Public Education released a report stating that Pinellas County had the lowest graduation rate for black male students of any big school district in the country.

"The theme of the celebration has always had to do with education, and we know that when students see themselves — when African-Americans see African-Americans in the curriculum, they study — they do better. So we're still including programs like an African-American scientist and inventors exhibit, with children making the presentations,'' Lightfoot said.

"But this year, since we have been hammered by the Schott Foundation, we wanted to include the forum for the youth,'' he said. "We want to hear their ideas on why males are not successful.''

Piper Castillo can be reached at

>> If you go

The 12th Annual Florida African American Heritage Celebration

When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

Where: Heritage Village, 11909 125th St. N, Largo.

Free ($2 suggested donation). There will be free parking and a shuttle to the event entrance at 119th Street between Ulmerton and Walsingham roads. There will also be handicapped parking and a drop-off at the former Gulf Coast Museum of Art, 12211 Walsingham Road.

Information: visit or call (727) 871-9165.

Step-Off Extravaganza

When: The first step competition will begin at 7 p.m. Friday.

Where: Dunedin High School auditorium, 1651 Pinehurst Road.

Tickets for the first day of competition are $10. Finals will be Saturday at Heritage Village.

Information: Call Cindy Robinson, (727) 946-1252.

Celebrating history, rhythm and relevance at Heritage Village 02/22/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 22, 2011 4:45pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Trump sprinkles political attacks into Scout Jamboree speech

    GLEN JEAN, W.Va. — Ahead of President Donald Trump's appearance Monday at the National Scout Jamboree in West Virginia, the troops were offered some advice on the gathering's official blog: Fully hydrate. Be "courteous" and "kind." And avoid the kind of divisive chants heard during the 2016 campaign such as "build …

    President Donald Trump addresses the Boy Scouts of America's 2017 National Scout Jamboree at the Summit Bechtel National Scout Reserve in Glen Jean, W.Va., July 24, 2017. [New York Times]
  2. Trump, seething about attorney general, speculates about firing Sessions, sources say

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has spoken with advisers about firing Attorney General Jeff Sessions, as he continues to rage against Sessions' decision to recuse himself from all matters related to the Russia investigation.

  3. John McCain to return to Senate for health care vote

    WASHINGTON — The Senate plans to vote Tuesday to try to advance a sweeping rewrite of the nation's health-care laws with the last-minute arrival of Sen. John McCain — but tough talk from President Donald Trump won no new public support from skeptical GOP senators for the flagging effort that all but …

  4. Last orca calf born in captivity at a SeaWorld park dies


    ORLANDO — The last killer whale born in captivity under SeaWorld's former orca-breeding program died Monday at the company's San Antonio, Texas, park, SeaWorld said.

    Thet orca Takara helps guide her newborn, Kyara, to the water's surface at SeaWorld San Antonio in San Antonio, Texas, in April. Kyara was the final killer whale born under SeaWorld's former orca-breeding program. The Orlando-based company says 3-month-old Kyara died Monday. [Chris Gotshall/SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment via AP]
  5. Blake Snell steps up, but Rays lose to Orioles anyway (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Blake Snell stepped up when he had to Monday and delivered an impressive career-high seven-plus innings for the Rays. That it wasn't enough in what ended up a 5-0 loss to the Orioles that was their season-high fifth straight is symptomatic of the mess they are in right now.

    Tim Beckham stands hands on hips after being doubled off first.