It’s more than the rhythm. It’s more than the dancing. It’s more than the music. It’s stepping. And while Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines step as “to move by raising the foot and bringing it down elsewhere or by moving each foot in succession,” stepping involves much more than that.
In Elizabeth Khalil’s article “Steppin’ Out,” Rashid Darden says that “stepping incorporates cheerleading, military, and drill-team moves, especially the call-and-response element inherent in those forms. That aspect is not only important to the energy of stepping, but to the cultural history to which stepping provides a link.”
So, where do you find step shows? Everywhere. Although African American Greek fraternities and sororities originally helped to develop the popularity of the step shows, they are spreading across the country and around the world. From campus organizations and church groups to high schools and local communities, more and more people are becoming involved in stepping.
As the popularity of step show continues to grow, so do the crowds. Events such as the Annual East Coast Step Show attract thousands of spectators—in 2003, approximately 6,000 people attended to cheer on the 15 competitors. Even junior high and high school step shows draw exceptional crowds.
Many of the step show organizations and competitions follow in the footsteps of the African American Greek organizations; they not only preserve and promote their cultural history, but also realize the importance of making a difference in their communities. Sometimes, a portion of proceeds from the step shows goes to build scholarship funds or goes to help the communities. Other Greek organizations help to coordinate step competitions in middle and high schools, giving the younger generations an opportunity to experience what stepping is all about. While step shows are often viewed as entertainment or an extracurricular activity, they provide much more than entertainment to the people involved.
Are you interested yet? Even if your high school is not involved in step shows and performances, it’s not too late! Many colleges and universities across the country offer opportunities to become involved. Whether you’re involved in a Greek sorority or fraternity or another campus organization, stepping can provide you with a chance to express yourself through music, rhythm, and dance.