July 12, 2024

Styles Of Dance

Dance Styles Unite in Harmony

FSU Nolettes aim to revolutionize majorette dance culture

5 min read

There are several Florida State University spirit groups that people are familiar with: The FSU cheerleaders, the FSU Golden Girls and the Bat Girls.  

But you may not have heard about the FSU Nolettes, the newest majorette team on campus.  

Despite the fact that FSU currently has a majorette team, the Golden Girls, the Nolettes add an expanded variety of dance styles, including jazz, ballet and hip-hop.  

This dance form will resemble the majority of majorette teams usually associated with historically Black college and university campuses. 

Sydney Malveaux, a third-year business student at FSU and co-captain of the Nolettes, said the team saw the other dance groups on campus but felt there wasn’t a space for their particular style of dance. 

“Part of it also was that we knew Florida A&M University didn’t have an active majorette team as well,” Malveaux said. “We knew we could pull a lot of fans and attraction just by being a majorette team alone in Tallahassee.” 

The nine-member team performs regularly during halftime at the Seminoles men’s and women’s basketball games at the Tucker Center.

Before its official creation on March 20, 2022, the founding members posted a poll on Instagram asking FSU students if they should start a majorette team. Most voted yes, and soon the Nolettes became a registered student organization. 

“We wanted to be professional, of course,” Malveaux told the Tallahassee Democrat. “But we would have never thought that we would have a coach.” 

Over the summer, Nolettes head captain Jayda Hall reached out to Markeshia Harvey, an 34-year-old dance coach and owner of Inspiration Dance Company in Tallahassee.

“She asked if I would be interested in being the head coach,” Harvey said during an interview in her Blountstown Street dance studio.

But Harvey said she had reservations, nervous about what people would think of the Nolettes and their style of dance.  

Backlash over HBCU-style majorette team at USC

Last year, a video circulated on the X social media platform, then called Twitter, showcasing a majorette team at the University of Southern California performing during a football game. It showcased the HBCU majorette tradition at a predominantly white institution. 

The viral video received backlash and sparked a debate regarding HBCU customs being practiced at mostly white schools, according to Vibe magazine. “This is great and all but why not just go to an HBCU,” a Twitter user said about the video. 

Harvey remained unsure, but added, “God was pushing me to bring the culture to Florida State.” So on Aug. 1, 2023, she signed her contract with the FSU Nolettes. 

She said she knew she made the right decision when diverse fans, from kids to adults, walked up to the majorette team following the men’s Dec. 16 game to compliment their performance.

Harvey posted a video on Facebook with a few fan responses.

“I loved it, you guys are awesome,” one FSU fan said with excitement. “I would love to see you guys perform again. Go Nolettes!”

“Oh my God, the best in the nation and so much culture,” another fan added about the Nolettes performance.

Harvey is planning to bring in other choreographers and dance and stunt coaches to make sure the Nolettes are reaching their greatest potential. “I want them to be very dynamic, explosive, and overall, something that Florida State has never seen before,” she said. 

Hall – a third-year English, Editing, Writing student – said she wants people to keep their eyes out for the new majorette team. 

“I am truly excited for the upcoming year, as we continue our mark on FSU’s campus,” Hall said. “You can expect to see more debut performances, advance choreography and dancers, as well as more involvement and service to our beautiful home, Tallahassee.” 

From tragedy to triumph: Meet Coach Harvey 

Born and raised in Tallahassee, Harvey has had a passion for dance since she was 3 years old. She stayed in dance classes throughout her adolescent years. 

As a young adult, Harvey got pregnant with her son, Rashaun Jackson, who was born with a rare heart condition. Two years later, after multiple heart surgeries, her son passed away on New Year’s Eve in 2010. 

Harvey said through her grieving process her mother, Yvette Derico, who also was a pastor, kept pushing her to go back to church. Eventually, in 2012, she started teaching praise dance at her mother’s church, Free Praise Ministries, 1346 S. Adams St.  

Harvey had 15 praise dancers and began implementing majorette hip-hop, which is a blend of all dance styles, into dance practices and it intrigued the group of girls.  

Her roster started to grow, so she founded her dance organization, Inspiration Dance Company, in 2015. 

“It just kept getting bigger,” Harvey said. “I ended up getting my first dance studio and when I got it the team went from 15 girls to 40 girls.” 

Amid her growing success, her mother became ill and passed in 2017. Devastated by her loss, Harvey put her pain into her passion. 

“I’m using all the pain and trauma that I went through, and I put it in dance,” Harvey said. “I decided to pour into these kids, push them, make sure they’re OK, and make sure I’m also being an example for them.” 

Ashley Glenn, a Leon High School graduate and head captain of Inspiration Dance, said she wants to follow in Harvey’s footsteps and become a coach. 

“I love to dance but I love to help people too,” Glenn said. “Coach ‘Keshia’ taught me how to use my skill professionally and profit from it.” 

Ta’Niya Williams, a senior at Amos P. Godby High School and co-captain of Inspiration Dance, said she appreciates Harvey’s dedication to the team professionally and personally. 

“We see her as a second mom more than a coach,” Williams told the Tallahassee Democrat. 

Harvey is officially opening her studio, 848 Blountstown St., in January. She is close to enrolling 100 dancers, between ages 6-18.  

While growing her personal dance company, Harvey is equally focused on bringing her time, talent and experience to the FSU sports entertainment world.

“God has definitely been blessing both Inspiration Dance Company and the FSU Nolettes, as well as myself,” Harvey said. “I just thank him.”

For more information about the Nolettes, visit their Instagram page @fsu.nolettes. For more information on the Inspiration Dance Company, call 850-264-0708.

Democrat Writer Mikiyah Everett can be reached at [email protected] 


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