Get to Know Our Official Dance Line, the Prancing J-Settes

Origin and Development of the Prancing J-Settes

“Prancing J-Settes” is the official name of the Jackson State University dance line, an auxiliary group of the Jackson State University Marching Band, “The Sonic Boom of the South.” The Prancing J-Settes are supervised by Mrs. Chloe Ashley Crowley, J-Settes Director. The Jackson State University Marching Band, “The Sonic Boom of the South” is an ensemble of the Department of Music, Dr. David Akombo, Interim Chair

“The thrill of a thousand eyes,” were the words spoken by Dr. Jimmie James, Jr. at the onset of the “Prancing Jaycettes” in 1971. Shirley Middleton, a former majorette, initiated the concept of the majorettes abandoning their batons and dancing to popular musical selections. As the majorette sponsor, Shirley Middleton and the majorettes met with Dr. John A. Peoples, the University’s sixth president, and requested that they be permitted to “put down their batons.”

Dr. Peoples agreed and thus legends were born. In 1970, Middleton assembled 18 majorettes, and their notoriety immediately began to soar in rapid proportions.

Their beauty, grace, and poise were astounding and their dance routines to songs such as “Kool-Aid,” James Brown’s “Make it Funky,” and “Hot Pants,” were magnificent, unmatched by any other competing groups.

The group was initially named the “Prancing Jaycettes.” The group’s name became official in 1971. However, in 1982, the Prancing Jaycette organization officially changed its name to Prancing J-Settes, because of a name conflict with a local organization known as the Jackson Jaycees/Jaycettes.

As a trained ballet dancer, Shirley Middleton held the J-Settes to a very high standard of perfection.

Also, the late Hollis Pippins, a JSU twirler and a dancer of high performance in his own right, took great pride in providing the J-Settes with excellent choreography.

In addition to emphasis on perfecting dance routines, it was completely unacceptable for any J-Sette to display mannerism and stature of anything less than a model citizen.


Shirley Middleton served as sponsor of the J-Settes from 1970-1975. In 1975, Narah Oatis was appointed the sponsor of the J-Settes. Under her leadership, the Prancing J-Settes became nationally renowned. During her reign, J-Sette marching technics such as the “Salt and Pepper,” “J-Sette Walk,” “Strut,” and “Tip Toe” were perfected. The J-Settes consisted of lines of 12-16 young ladies who marched in rows affectionately named “Short and Sassy,” “Magnificent Middle,” or a “Tall and Tough.” Mrs. Oatis’ tenure is best remembered by many for the J-Settes’ stellar performance at the 30th Anniversary of Motown in 1990, the “Coming to America” , “Proud Mary,” and the “Liturgical Dance” routines. (“Coming to America” and the “Proud Mary” routines were both originally performed in 1995. The “Liturgical Dance” routines was first performed in 1996.) Narah Oatis served as director (sponsor) of the Prancing J-Settes for 21 years. She resigned as sponsor of the J-Settes in February 1997.

In the Spring of 1997, a former J-Sette captain, Mrs. Kathy Pinkston-Worthy was appointed director (sponsor) of the Prancing J-Settes. Under her direction, the J-Settes have become nationally known for their rapid-fire highly technical dance routines to selections such as “I Go to Work” and “Swoop.” Perhaps, the most celebrated marquee performance by the Prancing J-Settes was rendered at the 34th NAACP Image Awards in Hollywood, California in 2003 where the J-Settes performed on National Television with “Cedric the Entertainer” and “Sugar Bear” of E.U. Both routines were choreographed by Mrs. Worthy.

Mrs. Worthy served 16 years as the director of the Prancing J-Settes. In the Spring of 2013, another former J-Sette captain, Mrs. Chloe A. Crowley was named sponsor of the Prancing J-Settes.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the audition process?

Auditions are a multi-step elimination process that includes submission of Application and Video Interview (instructions sent after receipt of application online), Stage Presence, Agility and Individual Dance, Group Dance Instructions and Final Group Dance Auditions. 

  • Interview: Video interview to determine the suitability of a perspective J-Sette concerning anything in their backgrounds or moral turpitude(s) that may reflect negatively on the University, Band and/or Prancing J-Settes. 

Stage Presence:

  • The judges utilize the holistic approach to determine the suitability of the prospective dancer during the stage presence process. This holistic approach is based on the judges knowledge and experience in dance as related to the marching band. Although the judges are utilizing the holistic approach, the judges’ decisions will be guided by the following interrelated factors:
    • Poise and Grace
    • Posture
    • Walk
    • Attention/Command Position– The ability to stand at attention in a commanding manner, which includes, alignment and erectness of the body, the chin up, shoulders back, head up, while maintaining a pleasant smile.
    • General Physical Fitness- Initially physical fitness will be determined by visual observation and face validity. It cannot be overly emphasized that prospective J-Settes must be physically fit and look physically fit as determined by the judges.

Agility and Individual Dance:

  • The agility test determines the prospective dancers’ ability to execute skill movements required in a dance routine. The skill movements include: right kick, left kick, right split, left split, rollover, backwards rollover, backbend, toe touch, cartwheel, roundoff, pop up. Other factors include coordination, flexibility and spatial relationship.
  • Applicants will have the opportunity to perform an individual dance of at most 1 minute and 30 seconds. This will be your opportunity to impress the judges with your talent, creativity and knowledge of the Prancing J-Sette style. All applicants will be responsible for supplying their music on a jump drive at the appropriate time. Please make sure your name is visible on your jump drive. In addition, please bring a CD backup to the final audition. You may wear whatever dance attire you wish that enhances and complements your body type and performance.

Group Dance Instruction and Final Audition:

  • The group dance determines the prospective J-Sette’s ability to execute a fundamental J-Sette dance routine within the dynamics of a group (Usually in groups of three). All prospective J-Settes are required to perform the same dance routine. The evaluator will employ a dichotomous scale (pass or fail) to determine whether the prospective J-Sette passes or fails the audition within three rounds.
    • Round One- During the first round, all evaluators must be in concordance that the prospective J-Sette passed the audition. In this round, the prospective J-Sette must execute the group dance with 95 to 100 percent accuracy.
  • Round Two- During the second round, the prospective J-Sette cannot receive more than one dissenting vote. In Round Two, the prospective J-Sette must execute the group dance with 85 to 94 percent accuracy.
  • Round Three- If there are six or more evaluators, during the third round, the prospective J-Sette can pass the audition with two dissenting votes. However, if there are less than six evaluators, the prospective J-Sette can only receive one negative vote. In Round Three, the prospective J-Sette must execute the group dance with 75 to 84 percent accuracy.
When are the registration deadline and audition dates?

Registration Deadline: May 15, 2020
Spring Auditions: May 20-22, 2020
Summer Auditions: July 2020 (Specific dates TBA)

After you submit your application (along with supporting documents: recommendation letters, acceptance letter or unofficial transcript) and video interview, you will receive a confirmation email. Please allow up to one (1) week after you have submitted your application to receive any notifications about your application status.

Are there any height and weight requirements?

You should look well proportioned in dancewear. We DO NOT have specific height and weight requirements, however, a lean figure is demanded by our uniforms and dance style.

What should I wear to auditions?

Our auditions are an elimination process which begins with an interview. For the interview, you should wear business/business casual attire. To prepare for the stage presence component after successfully passing the interview, you should have:

  • 2-piece attire: Top: Dance/Athletic Bra Top Bottom: Dance Briefs/Shorts (No Tank Tops or Bike Shorts)
  • Shimmery Toast tights
Where can I find audition attire?

Audition attire can be found in dancewear stores, or ordered online. The audition attire can be any color of your choice. Click here for examples.

What are the judges looking for at auditions?

Our judges will focus on the following:

  • Dance Technique
  • Stage Presence
  • Body Proportions
  • Enthusiasm
  • Poise
  • Showmanship
  • Personal Appearance
  • Figure
  • Personality
  • Energy
  • Proper Execution of Agility Movements
Where are auditions going to be?

On the campus of Jackson State University, at the Lee E. Williams Athletic and Assembly Center.

How should I wear my make-up?

Shades that complement your natural beauty.

How should I wear my hair?

In a current hairstyle that compliments your features. Make sure your hair does not hide your face and not too long that it could possibly take away from your performance. No Braids, Twists, Locs, etc!

How will I know if my application was received and accepted?

Please allow up to one (1) week after you have submitted your application and video interview to receive any notifications about your application status. 

Can I audition via online or video?

The only portion of auditions that is accepted online or by video is the interview.

Is housing provided during the auditions?


What do I need to bring to auditions?
  • $50.00 money order made payable to JSU Bands

  • Stage Presence attire (listed above)

  • Toast tights

  • Lunch/Snacks/Water

  • Personal items

  • Group Dance attire will be provided

If I have auditioned in the past, is my application still on file?

No. You must re-apply with a new application each year.

If I am not selected as a Prancing J-Sette, may I call or email to receive my judges comments?

No. The judges sheets are not kept on file and comments about your audition are not available.

Are there certain dance moves that I must be able to do at auditions?

Yes, there are 11 specific movements that are required at auditions. These movements include

  • Right Kick
  • Left Kick
  • Right Split
  • Left Split
  • Rollover
  • Backwards Rollover
  • Backbend
  • Toe Touch
  • Cartwheel
  • Roundoff
  • Pop Up
May I try out if I have a tattoo or extra piercings?

Yes, you may try out if you have a tattoo or extra piercings. Our policy is that even the smallest of tattoos or piercings may not be visible while in uniform. You MUST have an almost invisible retainer for all piercings other than in the earlobe.

Can my family watch auditions?

No. The auditions are closed to the public.

My family member traveled to auditions with me, they have no where to go. Can she/he watch auditions?

No. The auditions are closed to the public.

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