Greek chapters step up in dance competition

Brittney Prather

After six years of being banned, Kent State’s Annual Step Show returned to campus Friday night at Cartwright Hall.

According to STEP AFRIKA!, stepping is the use of the body as an instrument to create intricate rhythms and sounds through a combination of footsteps, claps and the spoken word. Historically, African-Americans have used this technique, especially throughout the Greek communities.

In 2010, the Step Show was banned from Kent State due to issues with attendees, fighting and security issues. The university decided on taking a step back from having the step shows to avoid having similar situations.

“When I came in February, the group kind of expressed how it’s a new wave of students, and that they were ready to do it again, so we made it happen,” said Dasha Harris, coordinator for Fraternity and Sorority Life.”

Courtney Tate, a junior public health major, as well as Sigma Gamma Rho, Inc. and IGC president, said the show is “a redemption for us to show (issues) won’t always happen, and to establish that we are here.”

Due to a member on the board being a part of the Kent State Homecoming committee, the event was deemed to take place during Homecoming weekend. It was thought to be a good idea to have it during a university sponsored event, in order to give it more attention so that more people could attend, including alumni.

In this years show, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., Delta Sigma Theta, Inc., Alpha Psi Lambda National (a co-ed fraternity), Lambda Theta Nu, Inc., Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. and Sigma Gamma Sorority, Inc. participated.

“I just thought it’d be something cool to do, especially since we haven’t had a step show in so long, ” Tate said. “It’s (nice) to be a part of the one that is bringing back the tradition.”

At the event, members of each fraternity and sorority performed their sequence along with members of two other dance teams that opened for the show and danced during the intermission. In the end, Sigma Gamma Rho, Inc., came in first place, Delta Sigma Theta, Inc. in second, and Omega Psi Fraternity, Inc. following in third. It was a lively event among the performers and the crowd.

The process of creating the show was extensive. It was decided this past March that the show was going to be put into place, and each member of the executive board would be playing a role in putting it together.

Due to a limit of funds, Cartwright Hall was decided on as the venue.

“We secured the space, and I also told them that if everyone didn’t participate, that we wouldn’t do it. So it had to be 100 percent participation from the council and everyone had to be on board with doing it so that was a big part in the decision,” Harris said.

In preparing for the step show itself, participating members mentioned that they would do research to figure out the direction of their routine and put in long hours to accomplish the finished product.

“We would just practice late at night because that’s when we would all be available,” said Bernard Branner Jr., a junior communication studies major and Omega Psi Phi, Inc. brother. “The latest we’ve practiced until was 3 a.m. That was only the first couple of practices though. Right now, we have everything down; we’re just tightening everything up and making sure everything is precise.”

For some, dancing comes naturally. With others, it requires practice. Members expressed some of the struggles that came with learning the routines to be performed.

“No, I don’t dance. It just takes a lot of practice. I would say it could be sometimes difficult for me personally because I’m just really lengthy and awkward and I play basketball,” Tate said. “It’s one of those tedious things that you just need to sit down and be willing to learn it.”

In preparation, the members of each chapter worked within their groups to accomplish the final number to be performed. In doing this, it brought each of them closer together.

For Branner, the best part was “us being able to bond and create a stronger friendship together.”

” We might be practicing, but there are times where we would get off topic and start talking about other stuff,” he said. “The most rewarding part is just getting to know my fraternity brothers better.”

As for Tate, it was “just seeing how we started from literally nothing and it’s really coming together beautifully.”

” I think when we get to show that to everyone, we’ll really be able to reap the benefits of everything that we did and all of the preparation that was involved,” she said. “It will feel like it has actually paid off.”

There are hopes of the show returning in the years to come. If all goes well, this should be the case.

“They are all competing for a trophy, (but) it’s a friendly competition with one another,” Harris said. “So I definitely think it will bring everyone together.”

Branner said the event serves as a way of spreading cultural awareness; something he thinks more people need to see.

“I definitely think it should be an annual thing,” Harris said. “It’s something (the chapters) … like to do, so hopefully they’ll keep the tradition going (in the future).”

Contact Brittney Prather at [email protected]