‘Stepping Through the Decades’ honors cultural roots, expression

Nate Day

Editor’s note: Collegian arts and culture reporter Jarrae Newell participated in “Stepping through the Decades” with the Lamda Beta Chapter of Omega Psi Phi.  

National Pan-Hellenic Council and Multi-cultural Greek Council members pose after the competition. Photo Courtesy of Mia Adkins.

Stepping is a performance in which individuals rely on their own footsteps and claps to create a crowd-encapsulating rhythm.

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On Saturday night, the Black/African-American Cultural Center and the Black Student Alliance put on a show entitled “Stepping Through the Decades” in which National Pan-Hellenic Councils and Multi-cultural Greek Councils had the opportunity to compete in a Step competition.

The event was hosted by Nate Jackson, a comedian who has performed on “Wild ‘N Out” and HBO’s “All Def Comedy.” He has served as the master of ceremonies for two other events over the course of Black History Month.

According to Step Afrika!, stepping was “conceived by miners in South Africa as an alternative to drumming, which was banned by authorities.” Since then, the tradition has spread to America and is largely practiced by Multi-cultural Greek Councils and National Pan-Hellenic Councils, often referred to as the divine nine, because they are nine Greek letter Sororities and Fraternities. The “divine nine” was founded in 1930, upon their founding, the mission of the organization was “Unanimity of thought and action as far as possible in the conduct of Greek letter collegiate fraternities and sororities, and to consider problems of mutual interest to its member organizations,” according to their website

The event was full of lively music and high-intensity stepping that included vibrant costumes, incredible synchronization, and jumps, high kicks and splits that rival acrobatics in their form.

The first group to perform, LIFE, Love is Finding Everyone, was made up of entirely high school students from Sierra High School in Colorado Springs.

“I think it keeps us out of trouble,” said Kiki Scott, a member of LIFE. “It keeps us busy and focused on school.

The high schoolers also plan on continuing to step in college, according to Lajayzia Cannon, another member of the team.

Stepping originated in South Africa

Stepping is now largely practiced by Greek Life organizations

The evening’s theme was “Stepping Through the Decades,” meaning that each performance had to include elements of stepping from past generations, not just modern stepping.

Several Greek organizations participated as well. Lamda Beta Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, inc., Omicron Zeta Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, inc., Omicron Tau Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, inc., Omicron Omicron Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, inc. and the Zeta Chapter of Pi Lambda Chi Sorority, inc. competed in front of esteemed judges for the evening.

“Stepping is really important to keeping the culture alive,” said Abriyana Senter, the President of Black Student Alliance. “It embodies working together and it takes us back to our roots as African Americans.”

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Perhaps one of the most exciting parts of the evening was the diversity of performers on stage and the influence they had on the energy of the audience, with students frequently shouting out messages of encouragement for the steppers.

Stepping is really important to keeping the culture alive. It embodies working together and it takes us back to our roots as African Americans.” -Abriyana Senter, BSA president

“I think it’s a great opportunity and a great experience,” said Ashlyn Shellenberger, a junior studying human development and family studies. “We get to learn and know more about there (Greek) councils.”

Each performance was also met with applause for the dancers and the Greek organizations that they were affiliated with.

Additionally, a number of Greek organizations performed a routine called strolling. Strolling is a performance art similar to stepping, with a stronger focus on dance-like elements, as opposed to rhythmic clapping and stomping.

The judges voted Lamda Beta Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, inc. as the winner of the fraternity step competition with their performance that was inspired by the movie “Friday,” the Omicron Omicron Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, inc. won the sorority step competition and the Omicron Tau Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, inc. won the stroll off. 

Collegian reporter Nate Day can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @NateMDay.