“Tuskegee chose me, I didn’t choose Tuskegee” — Mikayla Taylor
Often the most overlooked section of the band, the Piperettes of the Tuskegee Marching Crimson Pipers have had to carry their weight off and on the field with the same heart and determination as most others in the band.
To stay in formation through the years, each Piperette must try out, keep their grades up and stand up to the pressures of being judged based on a rich history left behind by their predecessors. To them, being a part of a sisterhood is worth the long nights of practice.
PIPERETTES // A DIFFERENT KIND OF LEGACY
“You can’t really judge us if you’re not in our position. We kinda gotta remind them that just because we don’t do the same exact thing that y’all do, doesn’t mean we’re not working just as hard,” explains lead dancer on the Piperette squad, Mikayla Taylor.
The Piperettes have long maintained a sense of class and elegance. If front of a crowd, they undoubtedly exude a different type of dance rhythm and feel, compared to their opposing teams. In the end, the goal is to avoid the guise of conformity and to uphold their legacy at Tuskegee.
“We’re the icing on the cake.” –Shanta Robinson
With hair slicked back in buns, and bold and yellow and gold make-up that’s applied Piperette to Piperette, the bond of sisterhood is always at the forefront. The common thread talking to these ladies is a sense of pride and having each other’s back.
“The Piperettes is a sisterhood you’ll always have. I’ll always be able to come back and sit with the band, sit with the Piperettes, and love on them. We may not know all of them through the years, but you still feel that connection once they walk through the door.
“The sisterhood, the discipline, how to keep being a classy lady. The Piperettes have taught me so much about respecting yourself, respecting your team and being a black female who doesn’t try to be like the rest of world,” says Mikayla.
Film by James Bland // Photography by Elton Anderson // Archived Images courtesy of Tuskegee University Archives, Tuskegee, Alabama // Words by Chatel Theagene