There was not one moment of silence in Wilks Theatre on Saturday, April 7.

People sat shoulder to shoulder, drawing their knees toward themselves when someone had to squeeze by. There were open seats here and there, maybe three or four in a row if you were lucky, but the 500-seat theater was packed with students and families alike. Chatter, laughter and eager greetings filled the theater.

Step Show is hosted by the Miami University NPHC, which serves as the governing body for Miami’s traditionally African American fraternities and sororities. Miami’s NPHC is comprised of six Greek Letter Organizations: Alpha Phi Alpha, Alpha Kappa Alpha, Delta Sigma Theta, Kappa Alpha Psi, Phi Beta Sigma and Zeta Phi Beta.

The event is both a showcase and a competition. This year includes two exhibition performances and four competitive teams who each represented a different chapter. Four judges critiqued the teams onon originality, precision, showmanship and adherence to the theme, “What’s on T.V.?”

“When it comes to stepping, there is a shared sense of pride and history for black Greek letter orgs,” said Rhonda Baldwin, emcee and member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. “We want to take this time to share a little bit with you.”

The first competition team was a group of girls from Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. The lights in Wilks were dimmed and a video shot on an iPhone was projected onto the screen. It was a fictional skit to set up their performance and starred one of their sorority sisters going through her busy day and ultimately suffering a heart attack.

At the side of the stage, the girl from the video lay on a table, “unconscious,” while another girl in a white doctor’s coat stood over her. Five girls strutted onto to the stage in bright pink scrubs.

This was Ethel’s Anatomy.

Their sister’s heart rate was terribly slow, the doctor told them. They had to step to bring her back to life.

The five girls began stepping. They moved in unison.

Stepping is not performed to music. Instead, their bodies serve as the instruments, creating various rhythmic patterns.

They clapped with their hands in front of them, then to either side, then with their hands below one lifted leg. They stomped their Converse on the wooden stage with crisp thuds.

Each routine also involved spoken word that they recited to the rhythm of their movements.

“Rest if you must, but don’t you quit!” the five girls shouted together.

Teams performed spoken word about their specific chapter, including information such as their motto, the year they were founded and their values.

“Deltas are all that!” the group of girls from Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. called out, wearing loose jeans, red crop tops, Converse and plaid shirts.

“PBs got soul!” the three guys of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. shouted. The theme of their pre-filmed video was a Sports Center Countdown.

“We are so sweet!” chanted the girls of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. as they performed various routines to try and escape the T.V. that they were trapped in.

The audience cheered at the more complex rhythmic patterns. Someone in the crowd would shout “Hold it!” when a performer froze standing on one foot. After the performances, fellow chapter members in the audience would call out their organization’s chants.

“Skee weee!” the sisters of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. squealed.

Ultimately it was the team representing Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., the girls who had to step their way out of being trapped inside a T.V., who took home first place.

 

fentermc@miamioh.edu

 

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