Ebony Fire Keeps HU Hot
On Jan. 20, a group of young women helped The Force represent Hampton University and welcome the 44th president of the United States into office. Ebony Fire ignored the bitter cold and proudly danced on Inauguration Day as part of Barack Obama’s Inaugural Parade.
“When we found out we were going to dance at inauguration, we were so excited!” said junior Rochelle Williams. “We were honored to be one of the three bands there. When we saw Obama, we all started crying. It was amazing.”
Ebony Fire is the dance group that accompanies the Marching Pirates. At every football and basketball game, these ladies are moving non-stop to give the audience a good show. “We create a different routine each week,” said Williams. Williams and her fellow dancers contribute to creating the new routines during practice. They practice Monday through Friday from 5 p.m. … until they’re done. The team does a lot of stretching and practices the routine as well as “swaggers” which are the eight count dances they do in the stands.
“It’s not easy,” said Williams who has been dancing since she was four. “We’re a hard working dance team and it’s hard to get out there and perform in front of your peers.” Her sentiments were echoed by sophomores Ashley Gray and Fatima Brodrick.
“I knew I wanted to keep dancing in college and I wanted to dance with the band,” said Gray, who has been with Ebony Fire for two years. “But I wasn’t ready for how challenging and time consuming it would be. It really is hard.”
This is Brodrick’s first year on the team. “It’s something I really wanted to do after high school…and seeing Drum Line,” she joked. She says the organization offers more than an extracurricular activity. “This is really a well-rounded team. It teaches you hard work and time management. You learn how to work well with others, and it helps shape you as a person.”
All of the ladies on the team consider it a sisterhood and they are eager to share that bond with others. Their practices are divided into two portions: closed and open. During the latter half of practice they invite non-members to practice with them. “A lot of freshmen who want to try out and upperclassmen who just want to have fun come to open practices,” said Gray.
What does Ebony Fire have to look forward to after basketball season? “Band Camp,” said Williams.
In August, all of the band members return for about a month of intense training. “We work out and train every day. Then the new members come and we train them. It’s hard, but it’s worth it to be prepared for football season.”
The idea that hard work pays off is a golden rule for the group. Avant is sad to be leaving. “I’m going to miss them a lot. We really established a bond,” she said.
You can see Ebony Fire perform at the next basketball game.