Dig Baton Rouge

Step Up or Step Aside

By Catie Santos

“Step show has also sparked new friendships because we all share a special bond of aching muscles, sweat, and tears. It is my favorite event of the year.”

The National Pan-Hellenic Council’s 2014 Step Up or Step Aside Step Show will take place in the Baton Rouge River Center Arena downtown on Friday Oct. 31 at 7 p.m. This will be NPHC’s 6th annual Step Show, a competition that pits LSU’s sororities against each other.

Stepping is an art form where the body is used as an instrument to create elaborate rhythms and sounds using a combination of footsteps, stomps, handclaps, and spoken words. Stepping has deep roots in African culture, based on communities that used movements and sound to communicate and show allegiances.

The modern step show can be traced back to the early 1900s, when historically African American fraternities and sororities would perform similar dance and music rituals, typically high-spirited cheers promoting their organization.

Kaci McClure, a member of NPHC sorority Zeta Phi Beta, sees stepping as a representation of the cultural history of her organization and takes pride in performing step routines with her sisters in countless step shows.

“It is more than a type of dance routine or a hand sign, it is a connection to minority history, our founders, and each other,” McClure said. “No matter what color, NPHC members stand for their founders’ values and the advancement of equality.”

LSU’s 11 Panhellenic (PHC) sororities each form their own team and are assigned an NPHC fraternity or sorority, whose members help the team learn and develop their own steps. Each team has its own theme for the show, and uses that theme to form a coordinating step routine. Jian Massucco, nutritional science major, is the Step Show Chair for Kappa Alpha Theta, whose NPHC fraternity partner is Alpha Phi Alpha.

“NPHC partners with PHC by helping us develop our baselines of the steps we perform,” Massucco said. “They teach us unique movements and steps to incorporate with the steps that we create, and overall, they provide us with great feedback and critiques to help us look our best.” The successful partnerships between PHC and NPHC groups through the years have contributed to Step Show’s continued success as well as sparked many friendships between the different organizations.

Step team members utilize music, props, costumes, and their own bodies to present a rhythmic, dynamic story to the audiences. Preparing for step show requires months of hard work, and the long practices and late nights often pave the way for lasting friendships with other team member. Emma Castay, elementary education major, has been a member of Kappa Alpha Theta’s step show team for two years and sees it as one of the highlights of fall.

“It’s a great way to meet new people early in the year and to bond with people of all ages,” Castay said.

Step Show continues to be a popular event because it involves more than just the members of the team. Each sorority has their own section at the arena, and many members dress up to coordinate with their team’s theme. Crowd participation is factored into the final scores, and many sororities actively incorporate their audience members in their routines by teaching them to shout specific phrases and cheers at certain times during the performance.

Alexa Tafaro, biological sciences major and member of Zeta Tau Alpha’s step show team, was actively involved on the dance team in high school and loves the opportunity that step show provides.

“It’s such a great feeling to work together and practice your routine and then to compete the final product makes me so proud,” Tafaro said. “Step show has also sparked new friendships because we all share a special bond of aching muscles, sweat, and tears. It is my favorite event of the year.”

The step show teams will take the stage on Halloween night and give it their all as they show off the routines they have worked painstakingly on for months, hoping to take home the glory associated with winning first place.

 

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