The energy coming from the Bring the Culture, Hip-Hop Explosion Step Show was infectious.
Four different fraternities and sororities performed at the annual Step Show Saturday Feb. 16. The event invited lots of competition, with Pi Lambda Chi Latina Sorority taking home first place, and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority winning second place.
The Step Show was hosted by the Black Student Alliance and the Black/African American Cultural Center. The title of this year’s Step Show followed the theme of what the significance of dance is to culture.
“We made it ‘Bring the Culture’ because we wanted to encompass all the diversity that we have on this campus,” said Jaleesa Roberson, the public relations officer for the Black Student Alliance. “Everybody has a different story so we wanted everybody to bring their culture and represent it in the way that they thought was best.”
As a part of the introduction for the show, there was a lesson about the history of stepping, its South African roots, how it transferred to the United States and how it is celebrated and practiced now.
“The origins of stepping come from South Africa. It was originally called the…African gumboot dance,” said Ally Johnson, a performer in the Step Show and member of Zeta Phi Beta. “And then…the first historically African-American (Greek Life) organization was Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. From there, stepping was kinda found in the 1900s.”
Following this introduction, there was a powerful spoken word performance about race to start the acts for the night. It was followed by LIFE—Love Is Finding Everyone—a group of high school performers. The last performance before the competition was by members of the Black Student Alliance.
Nate Jackson of “Wild `N Out” and “All Def Comedy” served as the show’s host, filling in with lots of jokes and encouraging high energy throughout the show.
We made it ‘Bring the Culture’ because we wanted to encompass all the diversity that we have on this campus,” -Jaleesa Roberson, public relations officer for the Black Student Alliance.
In addition to educating audience members on the history and cultural significance of stepping, the Step Show also informed people on the different fraternities and sororities within the National Pan-Hellenic Council, the “divine nine” as they are often called.
The audience was full of students, alumni, faculty and families. Late in the event, there was an opportunity for the children in the audience to win some money donated by the audience by coming up on stage and stepping.
Participants in the Step Show generally spend lots of time and effort preparing for their performances. Johnson said the process can take up to two months for everything to come together.
“I would say a good prep time is probably two and a half months, but with school and winter break right between, it can be hard with people going home,” Johnson said. “I’d say a lot of organizations usually plan within a month and a half to two months just because that’s a little bit more realistic for us.”
Johnson said preparation often includes late-night practices due to all the details that must go into the performance. These details include choreographing the steps, coming up with a theme and creating a storyline to go with the movements.
Not only do the performers spend a lot of time creating and practicing their show, but the organizers also spend a lot of time planning and putting the event together.
“The second last year’s (Step Show) ended, we started (working on) this one,” Roberson said. “I would say we started seriously working on it October of last semester.”
With the “Bring the Culture” aspect of this show, stepping can hold a lot of significance for multiple members of the NPHC.
Johnson said while doing service and supporting the community is important, the Step Show also emphasizes having fun and celebrating culture.
“For me, it’s just showing my culture,” Johnson said. “I think it’s one of those things of making sure that while we do service… that fun aspect is also really important.”
Collegian reporter Maddie Wright can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @maddierwright.
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