Folk & Traditional Arts: Destruction Drill Team
Of the folk and traditional arts practiced in Nebraska, few have as much energy and excitement as Drill. Omaha is home to Destruction Drill Team, a group of about 80 dancers and drummers between the ages of 4 and 18, who perform at community events and compete against other national drill teams. A combination of dance, marching band, and cheerleading, drill teams are an important source of pride and generational traditions, particularly within African American communities.
Destruction Drill Team was founded in 2013 by Derantay Stephens and under his direction has grown to achieve outstanding recognition for their fast-paced, hip-hop style of Drill. In 2021 alone, Destruction brought home 11 first place awards from competitions in Nebraska, Indiana, Iowa, and Ohio and recently, won first place at the 2022 Omaha AOH Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Led by Head Instructor Toddrell Holliman and assisted by several volunteers, Destruction Drill Team is an example of the way Folk and Traditional Arts connect generations and community. Founder and Director Stephens states, “a lot of members in Drill come from parents or families who did drill when they were younger, so it helps set a positive outlook on the future.” In addition to Stephens, Holliman and other volunteers, Destruction alumni work with younger members to show the dedication it takes to compete and work as a team, thereby maintaining the generational links necessary to help preserve the art of Drill within Nebraska.
While Drill Teams across the country have multiple styles informed by movements and dance styles as varied as military marches and African American Stepping, they are similar in the way they unify communities. According to Stephens, “Drill gives the community something to be proud of. There are oftentimes a lot of negative things that come to the forefront, but drill gives the community something positive to look forward to.” This may be one reason that Drill Teams are a popular feature of parades and celebrations. Destruction Drill Team will soon give the community more to look forward to as they head to Chicago in May to compete against several other drill teams from across the nation. To learn more about Destruction Drill Team, visit their Facebook page here.