You see them on the football field at each home game, dancing along with the Marching Hundred. These ladies are known as the Redsteppers, and they've been an IU tradition since 1972. Sophomore Janelle Wilhelm, who will soon finish her first year as a Redstepper, recently gave me some insight into life as a Redstepper and about the process of becoming one. (All photos courtesy of Janelle Wilhelm).
When do auditions usually take place?
Auditions take place twice a year, once in the late spring and then once right when we come back to school before Band Camp starts. You can audition either in the spring or fall, or both if you do not make it in the spring, but I recommend trying to audition in the spring if possible - that way, you have two chances to audition, and you can learn what you need to improve on for the second audition if you do not make it in the spring.
What was the audition like?
The auditions are a day-long event, usually from about 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. They usually take place in the Gladstein Fieldhouse.
The first part of the day consists of a free clinic in which you are taught the Redstepper basics and the dances that will need to be performed during the auditions. You are free to come to the clinic and not participate in the auditions later that day. There is a break between the clinic and auditions to eat, change, and prepare. Then, during auditions, you are put in small groups and asked to perform the dances that were taught earlier that day and some other dance fundamentals, like turns.
What did you have to do to prepare?
The best thing to do to prepare for the auditions is to STRETCH, STRETCH, STRETCH!!! Also, practicing turns and kicks is a good idea. Another thing to do to prepare is to work on your short term memory, which is important because you are taught many things during the clinic that need to be performed just hours later.
Were you nervous?
I was nervous at first when I got to auditions, but once I realized all the other girls were feeling the same as me, it helped me calm down. The most important thing to remember during auditions is to have fun, because if you have fun then it will be obvious that you are truly excited and passionate about dancing.
What kind of time commitment does being a Redstepper involve?
Being a Redstepper is a rather large time commitment. We have rehearsal everyday, Monday-Friday in the Gladstein Fieldhouse from 4:10 to 5:45. We also dance for about 10 hours every game day. We perform at a Colts game with the band every year and also travel to one away game with the band every year. At the end of our season, we have a showcase where we perform the majority of our feature dances from the entire season.
What are game days like?
Game days are very long, but also very exciting and fun.
We usually have to be at the field 4-5 hours before kickoff. We start with a rehearsal with the band on the field, then we march with the band to the location where The Walk takes place, then we perform at the walk and welcome the football team, then we march to Gladstein Fieldhouse where we get about an hour long break. Then, we march back to Memorial Stadium, then we do pre game on the field. Next, we dance on the sideline during the first half, then perform our halftime show. We dance the second half, then we perform during the post game show. Finally, we march back to Gladstein Feildhouse, which concludes our long day.
Although game days can be tiring, it is totally worth it. It's so exciting, performing for a packed house and being a part of IU football.
What is your favorite part of being a Redstepper and why?
I have many favorite things about being a Redstepper.
My favorite part of the day is performing our pregame set because I can feel the energy and school spirit illuminating from the crowd. I always feel so excited running out on the field, no matter how many games we have performed at already.
Janelle added that being a part of the Redsteppers, or any member of the Marching Hundred, earns you two credit hours. For more information about the Redsteppers, visit http://www.indiana.edu/~bands/redsteppers.php.