For the past three years, Phil Davis and his brother, James Clemons, have been mounting a popular competition called "Stomp the Yard."
The event, in which step-dancing teams from the local African-American and Latino communities face off against one another in good-natured but fiercely fought battles, has been steadily picking up participants and audience members since its inception in 2008.
Now, in an effort to combine the appeal of stepping with a passion for theater, Davis and his Alemaedae Theater company are mounting an original play that takes audiences behind the scenes of the step world.
"Let's Get It In" -- a name that can't help but evoke "Bring It On," a 2000 film about competitive cheerleading -- will play for one performance on Sunday in the Buffalo Academy for the Visual and Performing Arts (450 Masten Ave.). The show explores the backstage drama of competitive stepping and focuses on a rivalry between two female dancers from vastly different social backgrounds.
Taj (played by Cierra Monroe) comes from an affluent family and is relatively spoiled, while Shay (Teyana Walker) has had a more difficult upbringing. When Taj wins a step competition in a questionable way, Shay, spurred on by jealousy, tries to sabotage Taj's life both on and off the stage.
"It's almost like a collage of everything," Davis said of the show, the latest of several he has written for his own company. "You've got a love story in there, you've got jealousy, you've got fun, you've got everything you can think of all bundled up into one."
Not to mention plenty of actual step-dancing, to be performed by a large cast of dancers in addition to the play's seven speaking roles.
For Davis and Alemaedae (pronounced AH-LEM-AH-DAY), the theater company Davis launched in 2007, "Let's Get It In" is just the latest in a series of original productions that have been gaining attention on the local theater scene. The company has tried its hand at sketch comedy, dinner theater and straight-ahead drama, with short runs and novice actors who always have one eye on their next career move.
"We've introduced a lot of new actors to people who would normally not see them on other stages," Davis said. "Some of the actors that have been in our shows have now been able to work at Road Less Traveled Theatre and Irish Classical and a whole lot of other things have come from them being in our shows and being seen."
Alemaedae alum Barry Williams, for instance, was recently seen in Road Less Traveled Productions' "Antony and Cleopatra." Other Alemaedae alums, Davis said, have gone on to New York City or are working in film or modeling.
In March, Davis and his company will mount their first co-production with a long-standing Buffalo theater, Ujima. The companies will collaborate on a production of Charles Fuller's chilling 1980 play "Zooman and the Sign" -- like "Let's Get It In," an all-too-rare exploration of African-American issues on Buffalo stages.
WHAT: "Let's Get It In"
WHEN: 4 p.m. Sunday
WHERE: Buffalo Academy for the Visual and Performing Arts, 450 Masten Ave.
TICKETS: $15 in advance or $20 at the door
INFO: 602-6253 or www.atpgalaxy.com