Step shows can be found almost everywhere in the United States. Once performed exclusively by African-American Greek fraternities and sororities, which originally helped develop the popularity of step-shows, these performances have spread across the country and around the world. More and more people are becoming involved in the transition from campus institutions and church groups to high schools and local communities.
International Greek Lettered Fraternities and Sororities Under the umbrella of the nine historically black organization, the National Hellenic Council (NPHC) is an international Greek lettered group. . The Greek lettered societies collectively referred to as the “Divine Nine”, each developed as organizations during a period when African Americans were denied basic rights and privileges afforded to other college students.
Some Greek organizations help coordinate middle and high school step competitions, giving younger generations a chance to experience all things stepping. While many organizations and competitions show steps follow in the footsteps of Greek-African American organizations, they also help preserve and enhance their cultural history as well as reinforce the importance of making a difference in their communities. A portion of the proceeds from the step sometimes goes to building scholarship funds or used to help communities. This type of dance gives much more than entertainment to the people involved. It also gives them the opportunity to help in any way they can.
Historically Black Colleges and Universities, or HBCUs, are educational institutions in the United States that were established prior to 1964 with the purpose of serving the African American community.
Communities with Greek letters include:
o Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
o Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
o Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.
o Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
o Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.
o Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc.
o Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.
o Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc.
o Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc.
In the late 1960s, historically black fraternities and sororities began to embrace campuses. Previously, the black greek letter system was used as a rite of passage for pledges, and had a strong role in the college step scene. There are often set steps for each class and groups sometimes playfully mock each other’s styles during competitions and benefits. Each community or brotherhood has its own team. Getting into these organizations provides an enjoyable bonding experience.
Step squad members practice the routine twice a week, which is coordinated by a trainer. Pulling steps from members’ past experience enables teams to combine a variety of steps to keep the audience interested. Members are encouraged to make their own moves and make suggestions about what works and what doesn’t.
Many people may feel discouraged when they see a progressive routine. However, working from the basics is a good way for people to see that more complex steps are just collections of simpler things with some intersection. The presence of “rhythm” can be learned over time if it is not incorporated immediately. Step team members enjoy physical exercise and often aerobic exercise.
The All State HBCU Showdown is one of several national stepping competitions that elevates the one hundred year tradition of walking, a complex performance involving synchronized movement, knocking, singing, speaking, chanting, dance and drama, to the next level.