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Milligan step team presents “Steppin’ Into Oz”

By Jason Mullins
Elizabethton Star

Milligan College’s step team, Stompede, is stepping up to raise funds for One7, an organization that focuses on transforming the lives of inner city youth and families.

A group of students at Milligan College are preparing to put a new spin on a classic story that has delighted children and adults for generations. The Milligan College step team, Stompede, is sponsoring “Steppin’ Into Oz” this Friday night at 7:30 p.m. in the McGlothlin-Street Theater at Milligan’s Gregory Center.

“Steppin’ Into Oz” is the retelling of L. Frank Baum’s classic story,The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Stompede will take the story of Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion and place it into a step dancing performance.

Katie Cachiaras is a junior at Milligan College and a member of the school’s step team, Stompede. She will be one of the students participating in the special performance of “Steppin’ Into Oz” this Friday night.

Cachiaras said Stompede was first formed by Milligan students during the spring of 2011. “We started this program last year in the spring. Albany Kelly is a senior this year and she is involved in a lot of activities. She has two younger sisters and they were on a cheerleading squad at their high school. Instead of a traditional cheerleading program, it was more a step team cheerleading thing, so they were familiar with it when they came to Milligan,” said Cachiaras.

As Kelly and her sisters networked with other students on the Milligan campus, they found others who shared an interest in stepping. Since the group first formed last year, Stompede has performed on campus, including their first public performance at Seeger Chapel. “After that first event, people seemed to be pretty receptive to what we were doing,” Cachiaras noted.

In August of last year, Stompede sought new members during Rush Day. Rush Day is designed to allow student programs at Milligan the opportunity to introduce themselves to incoming freshmen. Cachiaras said Stompede members performed a step routine at Rush Day, which led to additional students joining their ranks.

Friday’s performance will also include members of One7, an organization that focuses on transforming the lives of inner city youth and families. Cachiaras said One7 volunteers assist children at the Carver Recreation Center in Johnson City with homework “and invest in their lives, continually seeking to manifest Christ and His love.”

Cachiaras noted that members of Stompede were introduced to the One7 program after they started working with children who live in the Carver community. She said that the team members worked with the children and taught them some step dancing routines. “Late last year, the kids from Carver were brought over to the gym by some of the One7 volunteers from ETSU and Milligan College so we could teach them a few step moves. I think the kids and the volunteers all had a great time that day,” she said.

Cachiaras said that event at the Milligan gym gave Kelly a unique idea. “Albany always seems to have these epiphany moments where she comes up with a great idea. She started thinking that we could have the kids from the One7 program participate in our ‘Steppin’ Into Oz’ show,” Cachiaras recalled.

Stompede and One7 seven have been practicing the step moves for their program since the students returned from Christmas break last month. Cachiaras said the performance will integrate the familiar plot lines from Baum’s classic tale, while “placing the story under a new lens, if you will. Of course, the show will still follow Dorothy as she encounters the tornado that brings her to the Land of Oz.”

“Steppin’ Into Oz” will feature Carshala Davis as Dorothy, Albany Kelly as the Wicked Witch, Stephanie Wilson performs the role of the Scarecrow, Ahmee Kelly as the Tin Man and Cachiaras is the Cowardly Lion. Playing the title role of the Wizard of Oz will be Kayla Kelly.

In addition to the story of Dorothy and her traveling companions, Friday evening’s performance will include a traditional African style dance number in honor of Black History Month.

Admission to “Steppin’ Into Oz” is free, but donations will be accepted to benefit One7 and the Stompede step team. To learn more about the mission of One7, go to www.one7.org. A full list of performing arts events at Milligan College is available at the school’s website, www.milligan.edu/arts.

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MILLIGAN UNIVERSITY is a Christian liberal arts university in Northeast Tennessee whose vision is to change lives and shape culture through a commitment to servant leadership. The university offers more than 100 majors, minors, pre-professional degrees and concentrations in a variety of fields, along with graduate and adult degree completion programs.  To learn more about Milligan University, visit www.milligan.edu or call 800-262-8337.

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