Annual Step Show draws students, alumni for dance

by Margarette Nelson | 5/13/14 2:04pm

Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity will host the 23rd annual Green Key Step Show this Saturday evening in the Hopkins Center’s Moore Theater. This year’s “FIFA World Cup” theme will be incorporated through costumes and video clips shown during the performance.

Members of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, Lambda Upsilon Lambda fraternity and Omega Psi Phi fraternity as well as three dance groups — Ujima, Sheba and Street Soul — will dance at the show.

Step routines, percussive dances where performers use their bodies to produce complicated rhythms and sounds, can be performed alone, but stepping is more commonly done in small groups.

Step has long been practiced by historically black fraternities and sororities, but its origins are imprecise. The dances may be competitive, but they are also performances.

Alpha Phi Alpha president Josh Rivers ’15 said that though the dances are most popular in the South, they have long been an Alpha Phi Alpha tradition on campus. The dances, which focus on quick movements, are highly customizable, so performers must be extremely precise in order to dance a routine well, Rivers said.

“A lot of work has gone into it,” he said. “We’re all working equally hard on perfecting the steps,”

Jenieri Cyrus ’14, an Omega Psi Phi member and first-time Step Show performer, said that growing up, his father took him to performances at colleges near his home in North Carolina. He recalls being struck by the variation among the dances, he said.

“You have to really be there to see it, everyone does it differently,” Cyrus said.

Cyrus is a member of his fraternity’s Cambridge, Massachusetts, chapter and said he anticipates that members from the Boston area will visit his show on campus and perhaps dance as well.

LUL often hosts a stroll show, a related dance type that emphasizes synchronized movement and specific performance formations, during Winter Carnival.

Alpha Phi Alpha’s seven active members will perform in this year’s show, which they have planned since winter term, Rivers said. Members have organized choreography, video production and logistics for the event, he said.

Vic Williams ’16, responsible for choreographing Alpha Phi Alpha’s dance, said the fraternity has been working on its routine since the beginning of the term. The group promoted the Step Show with a video of members rehearsing sent in an email to campus on May 8.

“The goal for this year is to try and one up and continue to raise the bar,” Williams said.

In past years, the show filled Leede Arena to capacity. Moore Theater is a smaller venue, though Dartmouth 105 will serve as overflow space, Rivers said.

Sheba co-director Sheya Jabouin ’15 said the change will require a “mental adjustment, because it’s so different.” Dance troupes typically do not perform step routines, she said.

“We just usually focus on hip hop music because it’s a crowd pleaser,” Jabouin said.

Sheba co-director George Sy ’15, who performed in last year’s show, described the atmosphere as “really fun” with “a lot of energy in the crowd.”

The Step Show also provides exposure for participating Greek organizations and can help attract new members, Williams said.

“A lot of people don’t really know about minority fraternities and sororities,” Williams said. “It’s a way to show people what you’ve been working on.”

Alumni often return to campus to watch or participate in performances, Rivers said.