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Stepping up to Make a Difference

Jessica “Remo” Morales, of Dominican and Puerto Rican descent, is playing a major role in the expansion of Stepping within the Latino student community. Morales started stepping in High School, where she was captain of the cheerleading squad. She went on to found The Soul Stepping Divas of Omega Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. while at the University of New York at Albany. This all-Latina sorority step team won three back-to-back national championships against other Latino and Latina fraternities and sororities before moving on to compete against some of the best African-American step teams in the country. This feat was televised in an episode of “True Life: I’m Stepping” on MTV in 2007. The Soul Stepping Divas came out as the first non-African-American team to not only crossover into, but win, the title in the “Step Correct” competition.

After college, Morales’s professional career took her into politics, directing legislation for then-New York City councilman Guillermo Linares.  Following her work in politics, she worked in marketing and promotions for a popular national magazine while continuing to promote stepping and competing with the Soul Stepping Divas. During her work in the marketing promotions and events field, she decided to take what her website describes as “the ultimate step”, and pursue her passion.

With the creation of Remo Production, Inc., Morales has been able to establish the Art of Stepping After School Program, a K-12 curriculum-based program that teaches the art form using mathematics, the first of its kind in the nation. Through stepping, Morales says, “kids are not only able to express themselves and communicate with their bodies, but it also promotes physical activity while fighting obesity in an era of technology.” Because of this benefit, Morales was a recipient of the 2010 President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition Community Leadership Award. This honor is awarded to those who improve the lives of others within their community by providing or enhancing opportunities to engage in sports, physical activities, fitness or nutrition-related programs and is limited to no more than 50 recipients annually.

Morales’s after school stepping program, which started with 10 schools in the New Jersey area during its first year and doubled during its second, continues to grow due to the popularity of the activity among urban Latinos. Without the need for equipment, special sneakers or uniforms, the activity’s low cost makes it especially attractive to low-income families who might otherwise not participate in extracurricular programs. Her programs also boast a higher than normal parent involvement rate.

When asked about the apparent increase in Latino interest in a “tradition rooted within the competitive schoolyard song and dance rituals practiced by historically African-American fraternities and sororities”, Morales responds that although it started in predominantly African-American college programs, Latinos “have been doing it” for years. She reminds us that the Latinos are a “world culture” which is “non-defined,” meaning Latino Americans are racially diverse. Mexican-Americans, Cuban-Americans, Colombian-Americans, Dominican-Americans, Puerto Ricans, Spanish-Americans, and Salvadoran-Americans are some of the Latino-American national origin groups, a portion of which are people of mixed African and European ancestry. Stepping is an avenue of expression where Latinos too can “tell our story”, says Morales.

Remo Production continues to grow and plans to expand outside of the East Coast with Texas being one of its prospective markets. The idea is to establish chapters within universities and colleges around the country and teach them how to step via their copyrighted program, which focuses on techniques and body formations and follows a mathematical learning process to ensure that beats are recreated with exact precision. A training program is then incorporated and generates representatives who can lead after-school programs, which creates employment opportunities within the community.

Branching out on her own was a major decision that took a great amount of courage. With her husband’s and family’s support, Jessica “Remo” Morales has been able to turn a personal passion into a promising career and a huge contribution to the Latino community. Our research shows that Texas Latino college students have embraced Strolling, Saluting, and Stepping as an expressive form of performance, an indication of a bright future for Morales.

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Categories: Culture, Feature Stories

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  1. Art of Stepping Workshop at National After School Association Convention in Dallas | www.metrolatinomagazine.com - January 26, 2012

    […] Jessica ‘REMO’ Saul Advertisement GA_googleAddAttr("AdOpt", "1"); GA_googleAddAttr("Origin", "other"); […]

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