NPHC hosts Best of the Midwest step show

Organizers said the show was the beginning of a tradition.
Members of Lincoln University's Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. dance during the Best of the Midwest Stepshow on Saturday evening in Jesse Auditorium. Judges chose the fraternity to win the $1,000 prize for the competition.

National Pan-Hellenic Council sororities and fraternities from across Missouri gathered Saturday evening in Jesse Auditorium for the "Best of the Midwest" step show.

Hosted by MU's chapter of the Phi Beta Sigma fraternity, the competition brought together performances from chapters at MU, Southeast Missouri State University, Truman University and Lincoln University. The four competing chapters were vying for a $1,000 prize. Judges chose Lincoln University's Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity as the night's winner.

The night began with a performance by the Missouri High Steppers, a Columbia-based youth group.

"I always get a rush afterward, not really before like most people do," member Lexis Barry said. "Afterward I'm always still so hyped up from the crowd. When it's a good crowd, you're still going after."

The High Steppers' performance was met with enthusiasm from the crowd, which is a reason event organizer Drew Kelly said they were included in the show.

"They're just a youth group that's out here doing really good and positive things," Kelly, a senior in Phi Beta Sigma, said. "It was established to help the kids have something to do other than get into trouble, so we wanted to bring them out here too."

The Zeta Phi Beta sorority was the only MU chapter to compete, but the MU Outer Limits Dance Team performed as well.

Junior Aris Williams and senior Anthony Martin were the night's emcees.

"We were really good friends in high school, so we've known each other for a really long time," Williams said. "To host with him was really fun, because I've always looked up to him as kind of like a big brother. We fed off of each other, it wasn't like anything was rehearsed."

Kelly said Saturday's show was the start of a tradition. In addition to planning to have the "Best of the Midwest" show in the future, he said he hopes for his fraternity to host a MU-exclusive NPHC step show in the spring.

"Generally, everybody in the NPHC steps," Kelly said. "It's kind of traditional."

This tradition, Kelly said, originated within the Psi Beta Sigma fraternity.

"It actually started out in Africa," Kelly said. "We were the first organization in the NPHC to have chapters in Africa. That's where tribal rituals and stuff like that happen. They use all the, you know, beats with their hands and their feet. It started out there and came over here."

Kelly estimated 400 people showed up to see the show, but he said final numbers on money weren't available yet. Nonetheless, he said the night was a success.

"I was in the back, but I was mostly listening to crowd reactions and feeling their energy and stuff," Kelly said. "They seemed to enjoy it and that's really the main focus of the night."

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