A Central Texas tradition is going virtual.

The MLK Step Up Fest was founded by Ms. Joy Purnell back in 2001. It started as a small event showcasing the step and dance skills of a few local artists, and it's steadily grown into a beloved cultural event in the Killeen area.

Organizers typically hold the event at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center, and that tradition will continue. However, this year's free event will be virtual so that participants can both honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. and celebrate Central Texas culture while taking steps (no pun intended) to help keep everyone safe during this ongoing pandemic.

Even though tickets are free, you'll still need to register in advance if you want to watch these awesome performances. You can get signed up over at their EventBrite page, and if you'd like to contribute any funds to the event to help make next year's possible, you're welcome to do that as well. (They're a non-profit organization, so any donations are greatly appreciated.)

After you register, keep an eye out for an email containing a link to the stream that will carry the event live on January 17 starting at 5 PM.

According to the EventBrite page, students spend months preparing their performances, and the event has grown through the years to include not only local high schoolers, but younger steppers, dance troupes, singers, and even some college Greek step teams.

In case you're not familiar with step, it's a form of percussive dance, meaning a dancer's entire body is used to produce sounds and rhythms. Steppers primarily use footsteps (hence the name), but frequently include hand claps and the spoken word in addition to other elements.

While step is rooted in several traditions, its modern form emerged from Black fraternities and sororities.

For more information about this year's event, reach out via email to CJoyEnt@gmail.com or text (254) 218-3939. Their socials can be found using @cjoyent.

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