The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Alter egos step to it

2 min read
By JULIA HOLMES An alter ego is defined as the opposite side of a personality. It’s also the name of the UMW step team.


An alter ego is defined as the opposite side of a personality. It’s also the name of the UMW step team.

“When I’m stepping, it is not Michelle that you see—It’s like the Shellster. It’s like my alter ego comes out,” said the team’s President, Michelle

Gnoleba. “Everyone that you see up there is not their regular, everyday classroom person.  It’s someone totally different who is strong, confident and demanding.”

UMW is no stranger to dance clubs, but the Alter Egos mark themselves through a uniquely different viewer experience.

“[Stepping] uses clapping and stomping to create unique beats and music,” said Gnoleba.

In stepping, the participants’ bodies nearly become percussion instruments, as they create the intense sounds of the dance.

Because the club’s members display such distinctly different personalities while they perform, the inspiration for The Alter Egos’s name was born.

The group has only been together for three semesters, but the 22 women who make up the team have formed an incredible sisterhood, according to Gnoleba.

“We’re definitely a family and we love each other very much and it is just a wonderful group of nice people who are welcoming and ready to make new friends,” she said.

She attributes this bond to what makes the team such strong performers. Through their practice and unity, they are able to feed off each other’s energy to create an intense and engaging performance.

This semester The Alter Egos want to become more of a presence on campus.  They already have two significant performances lined up this semester at the Multicultural Fair on April 9 and in the Underground later that month.

Although The Alter Egos have strong unity with each other, they are still welcoming new members.

“A step team has no limit.  You can have a step team of up to 50 people.  Or a step team as small as four people,” explained Gnoleba.

And, prior experience on a step team isn’t a requirement.

“Of course there are always going to be people who have stepped in the past.  But we do have a lot of new members that have never done it before,” said Gnoleba. “It’s a totally new thing for them and they’re doing great.”

Ultimately The Alter Egos is a club joined by their passion, intensity and friendship.  But they also are led by Gnoleba’s criteria for a great step team.

“[You need] precision that means everyone is on point at the same time, enthusiasm, loud voices and exaggeration,” she said. “[Stepping is] like theatre.”

Only in this sort of theatre, you can adopt any alter ego you want. What would you choose?