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Dance major Brittany Delany '09 , far left, writes for Hot Stepz Magazine, based near Boston. She also helps advertise magazine-sponsored dance events.
 
Posted 02.27.08

Student Dancer Promotes, Writes for New Urban Dance Magazine

Brittany Delany ’09 grew up improvising pop and hip hop movements in her family room. Now she’s danced her way into Hot Stepz Magazine as a writer and publication promoter.

Delany, a choreography/performance dance major and French studies major, voluntarily works for the urban dance publication, subtitled "the soul of dance." The magazine focuses on modern-day dance styles such as Krump, Caribbean, dance hall, stepping, hip-hop and B Boy B Girl while emphasizing the historical culture of dance movements.

I am very committed to the heart of this magazine,” Delany says. “Hot Stepz is for people of all ages and cultural backgrounds who have an interest in all kinds of dance. It provides a platform to support those in the performance arts and it explores dance histories.”

The magazine debuted in January and featured an interview with Shane Sparks, choreographer for the MTV Music Awards and for the hit show So You Think You Can Dance. Other articles included a biographical account of Katherine Dunham, a history of Flamenco dancing; and a fashion spread and interview with Francesca Harper, who plays on Broadway in “The Color Purple" musical. The magazine’s primary consumers are men and women of all ethnic backgrounds between ages 16 and 40.

Hot Stepz Magazine was visualized by 13-year-old Neeca Wilder and her mother, publisher J. Lynda Blake, in Dorchester, Mass. last year. Their goal was to create a publication that would help to give deserving dance pioneers and aspiring artists national exposure by capturing their talents in each issue. Delany befriended the mother-daughter duo and instantly offered to help promote the magazine and its dance-culture events.

In June 2007, Delany helped organize the Hot Stepz Freestyle Dance Party and freestyle dance competition in Boston, and the Hot Stepz-sponsored “Liquid Steel” dance audition in Cambridge, Mass. in July. The events welcomed all styles of dance from ballet, jazz, tap and hip-hop to Caribbean, krump and B Boy. More recently, the Hot Stepz-sponsored dance crew ‘Status Quo’ has been successfully competing for the top spot in MTV’s America’s Best Dance Crew.

In addition to working on the promotional aspect of the magazine, Delany also writes for the publication. She’s written about the 2008 Leap Year Dance Marathon, hosted by Rozann Kraus of the Dance Complex in Cambridge. And she’s interviewed Janille Hill, the leader of the step team ‘A Chosen Few’ to write about stepping.

“It was very interesting to learn that stepping originates from slavery, when slaves would use percussive foot stomping and hand clapping as a way to communicate. African American fraternities and sororities developed and popularized this form,” Delany explains. “We have a great step group here too—WEStep.”

Delany’s interest in dance began at a young age, where she’d dance to popular songs, and dabble with moves to Caribbean and African beats. In seventh grade, at the Milton Academy near Boston, she became a member of their Dance Ensemble.

“One of my favorite performances was during my second year. We performed a dance that was daring and experimental and just fun,” Delany says, who is pictured at left. “It was all about being funky. We made our costumes out of bubble wrap and duct tape.”

In high school, the budding performer collaborated with students and began working with her teacher, Kelli Edwards. She experimented with modern, jazz, dancehall, tango, improvisation and hip-hop styles. Naturally, when applying for colleges, Delany sought an institution with a solid, world-renowned dance program and student dance groups. Wesleyan’s dance major, featuring technique courses in modern dance, ballet, jazz, Javanese, Bharata Natyam, West African dance, among others, was strongly appealing.

She also enjoys the major’s courses on dance composition and production, theory, dance history and improvisational “site-specific” dance, where a dancer approaches a space not reserved for dance.

“A few of us did (site-specific dance) right here in Usdan,” Delany explains. “We took off our boots, took note of available spaces, climbed on chairs, clumped ourselves into nooks and the window frames … then we’d take an object like this chair, turn it on its side, explore it and extrapolate a movement from it. I really love negotiating a situation in a short moment.”

Delany, who has a growing interest in the history of dance and writing, says she’s not sure what she’ll do after Wesleyan.

“Whatever I end up doing has to be creative,” she says. “Creativity is my passion.”

For more information on Hot Stepz Magazine, go to http://www.hotstepzmagazine.com/
 

By Olivia Bartlett, The Wesleyan Connection editor