Prancing Pearls of Excellence stepping on up
Majorette dance team is changing lives, making waves and winning awards.
Sydnee Dickson, a high school senior, practices choreography with other members of the majorette dance team Prancing Pearls of Excellence.
As a member of Jackson State University’s Prancing J-Settes, Dr. Shavonda LaKay Pannell learned firsthand the positive power of dance.
“Jackson, Mississippi, had a lot of community dance teams,” says Pannell, a Tulsa native. “After I left Jackson, I really wanted to bring something like that back home for young ladies in the community. I knew I wanted to be able to give back to young ladies in a positive way, and I know dance helps build character and self-awareness.”
With the debut of “Bring It!,” a popular dance reality TV series, Pannell saw her opportunity. The program showcases the community majorette dance teams in the South, specifically the Dancing Dolls of Jackson under the direction of Dianna Williams. “Once the show came out, and (Williams) exposed the world to the majorette dance style known as ‘bucking,’ I felt it was safe to introduce that style to Tulsa.”
In 2015, the nonprofit Prancing Pearls of Excellence was born. Girls ages 12-18 go through a rigorous audition to make the team. As members, they’re expected to maintain their GPA, attend practice three days a week, display good social media etiquette and travel to competitions throughout the season.
“The best part of my job is seeing their growth as dancers and as young ladies — seeing them become more confident and aware of who they are,” says Pannell, the team’s head coach. “I’m proud to be a mentor to them.”
“This team has really changed me,” says Sydnee Dickson. “It has changed the way I am as a person and the way I dance. I never thought my endurance would be this great, or that I could dance this powerfully.”
Dickson, a Booker T. Washington High School senior, has danced with Tulsa’s Prancing Pearls of Excellence, a community majorette dance team, for three years. She’s the team captain.
When not in class, dance practice or competitions, Dickson studies cosmetology and works part time at Home Depot. She’ll attend Clark Atlanta University in the fall.
“As team captain, you learn a lot about yourself,” she says. “You have to not only be a leader for other girls, you also learn to be a leader within yourself.”