The Jackson State University Prancing J-Settes introduced a collection of new designs for the upcoming football season during their inaugural Thee Sette Gala held on Friday, Feb. 17, in the JSU student center ballroom. The gala, themed “Project Runway meets Met Gala,” displayed a culmination of past, present and future designs worn by the J-Settes.
The fashion show was a historical monument, serving as the first fundraiser of this magnitude held by the J-Settes in their 52 years of existence. Alumni of the program, members of the Sonic Boom of the South, and fans and supporters were present to witness the glitz and glam on display.
“Being that this is the first fundraiser of its kind and on this large scale for the Prancing J-Settes, it’s so important because it encompasses all of the rich history and legacy of the Prancing J-Settes not only showcasing uniforms from the early 70s to now; but also showing the impact that the Prancing J-Settes has had on the world of dance,” Chloé Ashley Crowley, advisor and sponsor to the Prancing J-Settes said. “With the help of the alumni, students, supporters and sponsors, this will become an annual event to support the Prancing J-Settes financially and physically.”
During the show, many tributes were offered to past sponsors, captains, and program contributors, including Shirley Middleton, Kathy Pinkston-Worthy, and the late Hollis Pippins. The J-Settes also saluted the LGBT+ community and the impact the community has had on the world of dance, and the genre of house music, mentioning that it serves as an influence on the historical J-Sette style of dance the world knows and loves today.
Cialah Jones, a senior criminal justice major and the 2022-2023 season captain says the event felt like a day in history.
“Tonight was an amazing show. It just felt like a day in history. We had uniforms from the 70s, 80s, and 90s to the present day. So, it was amazing seeing some of the alumni’s faces light up as they saw the uniforms come down the runway,” Jones said. “I loved doing this. This is something for Black girls to showcase their talent and beauty while promoting girl and body positivity. I’m so thankful to Mrs. Crowley for giving us this opportunity. She is the mastermind behind all of this. I am so thankful for the band, all of our sponsors, and just people who came out to support.”
Designers from all over the U.S. were invited to show their talents by submitting designs to be considered and voted on by the Prancing J-Settes to wear in upcoming seasons. The winning designers were Raveen Johnson from Nashville, Tenn., and owner of Neevar, and Kelvin Hill from Washington, D.C., and owner of Kelz Pro Artistry. They were announced on Friday, Feb. 24. The designers’ costumes were presented on the runway and worn by current members of the dance program.
As the ladies “pranced” the runway throughout the event, guests were dazzled by brief performances and eight counts by the J-Settes. Fans were even invited to join in.
“The goal for this fundraiser is to be annual. Every year we want to come back and showcase all our uniforms. The closet is so big that we have enough uniforms to do this for about five or six years,” Jones said. “For the girls that make the squad next year, this is something they can look forward to being a part of.”
Detra Rouser, a former Prancing J-Sette from 1998-2002, was in attendance. Rouser danced under Worthy as a “Worthy Girl” during what she describes as the “burning boot era.” During that time, the squad earned the best dance troupe in the SWAC multiple times.
She says being invited and participating as an alumna is an honor.
“I’m very excited about the uniforms. It was nostalgic to see [the uniforms] I performed in and remember actual games where I performed in the actual outfits. I loved it. I’m really looking forward to this being an annual event. I will be there,” said Rouser.