Step show demonstrates NPHC talent

The NPHC step show is about bonds between chapters.
Delta Sigma Theta junior Karry Parran of Stephens College holds up the Delta sign during the National Pan-Hellenic Council Step Show at Plaza 900 Amphitheater on Saturday. The show featured NPHC sorority and fraternity members who stepped for a large audience.

Under Saturday's rainy skies, the Legion of Black Collegians hosted a step show outside Plaza 900. National Pan-Hellenic Council sororities and fraternities performed step routines unique to each chapter.

“NPHC Greek organizations make up the majority of the step show,” said Charles Ukatu, NPHC President and Kappa Alpha Psi member. “We also invite some of the local dance groups to perform. We want to open it up to everyone. Next year we’re thinking about inviting the (Interfraternity Council).”

Stepping is a tradition among NPHC chapters and represents a rich history, as well as a strong sense of togetherness within the community.

“Omega Psi Phi refers to ‘stepping’ as ‘hopping,’ and it’s meant to show unity and bonding among the organizations,” Omega Psi Phi member Geordan Lightfoot-Smith said. “For Omega Psi Phi, we wanted to showcase our enthusiasm and hard work.”

Dedication was a common theme in the chapters’ performances. Delta Sigma Theta designated step captains, then used their creativity to come up with the routine. The sorors began practice a week in advance with two-hour practices in the morning and night, Delta Sigma Theta soror Alexandria Sayles said.

“We work hard in the community and we work hard in school,” Sayles said. “Stepping is more of an expression and not entertainment. We want to express our bond and that after we work hard, we like to play.”

The routines varied from chapter to chapter with different dance moves and outfit schemes. The nuances between the organizations’ performances portrayed unique messages. The brothers of Kappa Alpha Psi, for instance, stepped with canes in hand.

“The cane originated in 1911 as a symbol of the brothers of Kappa Alpha Psi being gentlemen,” Ukatu said. “We started using canes because we are gentlemen and we wanted to set ourselves apart. The step show is less about theatrics and more about who your brothers are and the bond you share.”

Historically, step shows have a large cultural emphasis with deep roots in the dancing traditions of certain African cultures.

“Through the step show, we incorporate African culture into the organization in tribute to the original culture,” Alpha Phi Alpha member Anthony Martin said.

NPHC alumni were present to witness the festivities. Some participated in the step routines in remembrance of their time spent at MU.

“Stepping is a way for us to challenge each other,” Alpha Phi Alpha alumnus Jerico Riley said. “It’s a great phenomenon that is expanding from the black community and opening up to the world to give people a sneak peak of black Greek organizations. Every organization has a unique, distinct style of stepping, and this challenges organizations to develop and to perform. In a way it’s a competition, but it unites us at the same time.”

Compared to past years, traditional steps remained but the performances involved a little more dancing, entertainment and crowd involvement, Riley said.

“You will always see the traditional steps unique to each organization, but I think the alumni were better in my day,” Riley said. “I would like for all the alumni to come back next year and challenge the old versus the new.”

Martin said the step show served as the grand finale to LBC’s Black Homecoming.

“The step show is a part of our livelihood,” Martin said. “We win competitions and the money goes to our chapter; we pay homage to our fraternity and culture as a whole. Stepping is near and dear to black groups for us to have as our own, and it’s good that (the NPHC organizations) can come together to do something positive for the community.”

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