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12 Oct

Meet Princess Isis Lang, The Dancer Who Created The

On April 20, 2020, Princess Isis Lang took a WOW Quiz. The interactive quiz company has a Magic 8 Ball fortune teller-style approach to answering questions on users’ lives. Lang was searching for a not-so-serious response for a one-word meaning behind her name. WOW’s answer? “Famous.” 

Lang, 20, is currently a musical theater major on the University of Southern California (USC), and the creator of Cardinal Divas, the college’s first-ever majorette team. She  was a majorette at her Chicago highschool and didn’t need to let go of dance when she left home for school.

Meet Princess Isis Lang, The Dancer Who Created The USC Majorette Team
Thomas Johnson

Heading to USC wasn’t all the time a finite a part of Lang’s plan but she had a difficult time finding a faculty that will meet her needs, noting she wanted a “conservatory-style” environment. “I did need to attend an HBCU,” she tells ESSENCE. “It just didn’t really work out for me. I didn’t need to stay in college longer and pay so far more money after I knew that there was one other school that had the opportunities, connections and believed in me the identical way.” 

Once she was accepted into USC, Lang needed to reconcile with the incontrovertible fact that there have been no all-Black dance teams that practiced majorette dance style.  So, she told her mother that she desired to create a dance team but wasn’t sure if she could. During her sophomore yr, Lang  met Mark Munson, one in all USC’s associate directors of recreational sports, and pitched him the concept of making an official majorette team. She says Munson was instrumental in making it occur. 

“If it wasn’t for Mike Munson, I don’t know if my majorette team could be where it’s at straight away this soon,” Lang says. “He really believed in me, he didn’t even query anything.” 

Lang then applied to have her team recognized as a faculty organization. The authorization process took months, finally coming to an in depth in March 2022. 

On September 17, the Divas made their formal debut on the USC versus Fresno State football game. Lang got here to understand she’d built something that will catch the country’s attention. After she posted a clip of the Cardinal Divas to Twitter, the video took off and now has 2.4 million views. “It feels sort of like a miracle,” says Hannah Ethridge, a member of the team. “That is all too good to be true. ”

Lang’s outlook was similar. “I used to be just so blissful,” she says.

The video also reignited the HBCU versus predominantly white institution (PWI) debate, with some social media users taking offense with Lang bringing Black majorette culture to a PWI. The phrase “PWI” occupied the #2 spot for United States topical Twitter trends on September 19. 

“There are a number of negative comments which are going around, but I feel the larger picture of all the pieces is admittedly simply to support Black women and uplift Black women all over the place,” Lang says. “I appreciate and applaud everybody that has gone to an HBCU or a PWI, but I’m just here to open up an area for the Black women at my PWI, because we need to uplift and embrace our culture just as much as anybody else.”

Meet Princess Isis Lang, The Dancer Who Created The USC Majorette Team
Aziza Hutcherson

Majorettes are known for his or her slinky, technical dances and for mixing various types of Black dance. “Majorettes at Historically Black Colleges and Universities revolutionized the way in which people view marching bands,” says Bridgette Bartlett Royal,” ESSENCE’s senior research editor. “They’re far more than baton twirlers and have an undeniable presence whether performing in front of 35 or 35,000 people.”

Majorettes are enmeshed with HBCU culture. Starting within the Sixties, high schools and colleges began integrating the young women into their marching bands. Alcorn State University, Southern University and Jackson State are acknowledged as the primary HBCUs to present dancers who would wiggle their hips to live renditions of popular hip-hop and R&B tracks. They’ve change into a pleasant mix of the sultry steppers of Black sororities and spirited cheerleaders. KaLores Jackson, a graduate of Grambling State University, says majorettes were “admired” during her college years. “HCBU culture includes band culture, dancing and the attractive ladies within the front,” she adds. “After all, they’re the focus on the sphere and in other spaces.”

“Majorette’s energy” has been channeled in mainstream culture over and over since they’ve gained popularity. The Charles Stone III-directed film ‘Drumline’ features Zoe Saldana as one in all the leads of the danceline on the fictional Atlanta A&T University. In 2018, global superstar Beyoncé brought the glamour and skill of majorettes to her Coachella performance. Also, for the 2021 Met Gala, gymnast Nia Dennis took inspiration from majorettes for her routine on the event’s start. In an interview with Vogue, Dennis described the dancers as “really, really fierce—a number of attitude, a number of energy.”

Meet Princess Isis Lang, The Dancer Who Created The USC Majorette Team
Nia Dennis on the 2021 Met Gala.

The dancers are stars in their very own right, too. In 2014, Lifetime began airing ‘Bring It!,’ a reality show starring Coach Dianna Williams and her majorette team, Miss D’s Dancing Dolls. Williams, a graduate of Jackson State, has an Instagram following of over a million and ‘Bring It!’ has been billed the “fastest-growing show on Lifetime.” The football field’s queens, majorettes smile and spin. Their loyal audience returns the love and after they don’t, oh well.

The backlash Lang and her crew have faced ain’t stopping a thang. As she says, you’ll see more of the team this season. “You’ll be able to sit up for seeing us at these home games on the large screen, showing young Black girls that they’ll do anything that they think to do,” Lang says. “We just want to point out everybody that we’re here to remain and we deserve as much camaraderie as any of those other dance teams at USC and across the country.”

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