Katie Higgins / For The Lantern
Members of several fraternities and sororities will come together this weekend to tribute African culture.
The National Pan-Hellenic Council’s 26th annual Step Show is slated for Saturday, in the Mershon Auditorium from 7-9 p.m. Doors open at 6 p.m.
The signature event held at the Wexner Center for the Arts will kick off both Ohio State’s African American Heritage Festival and Greek Week. After practicing for months, NPHC’s nine traditionally African-American sororities and fraternities will compete by performing their self-choreographed dance routines in front of what organizers expect to be a crowd of several thousand.
Stepping, a form of dance taken from Africa, forces dancers to use their hands and feet to keep a constant and consistent beat. It combines traditional African dance with American pop culture and incorporates aspects of skits and video.
“It’s a tribute to western Africa, but the teams definitely put in some of the modernization of pop culture and some of their organizational themes,” said Khristopher Johnson-Deloatch, Step Show chair and a fourth-year in economics. “We just want to give the best diverse experience as possible to as many students as possible.”
Even though it is a Greek event, anyone interested is encouraged to come, Johnson-Deloatch said. Comedian William Horton, more commonly known as Spank, is scheduled to host the show, and DJ Lo-Key, a Cleveland-based DJ whose real name is Mike Haru, is set to provide music.
In order to get the most points, teams must score well in all five categories: Step Show promotion, team costumes, crowd interaction, dance precision and team energy. The show splits competitors up by gender with sororities against sororities and fraternities against fraternities. Each organization will bring one alumnus familiar with stepping to judge the competition. Both the highest and lowest scores will be thrown out and a final score, made up of at most 700 points, will stand, Johnson-Deloatch said.
There is no particular fraternity or sorority with a stepping stronghold. Each of the last several years has brought with it a new winner, said Johnson-Deloatch. At this point, most of the team members know their routine by heart and can perform it well with their group, but their success depends on their execution of the steps.
“Everybody in my chapter, we all know the steps,” said Andrew Offorjebe, a fourth-year in consumer science and finance, who will be competing for his last time with Phi Beta Sigma fraternity. “The question is are you able to execute perfectly, precisely and then when the show comes are you able to not just remake what you did in practice but are you able to do it better?”
While the competition is intense, it does not tend to turn into anything unsportsmanlike.
“It’s all friendly,” said Kejuan Johnson, a second-year in operations management, who is competing for the first time with Iota Phi Theta fraternity. “We’re going to talk our smack but (fraternities) know we’re going to respect each other at the end of the day.”
Even if they are not stepping, many members of the fraternities and sororities will indirectly participate in the event, either through promotion, working with the video production or some other means.
“People that can’t step, we try and have some type of aspect that allows them to get their shine,” Offorjebe said. “We are incorporating as many people as possible … it’s always a chapter effort.”
Tickets went on sale Monday and can be purchased for $10 with a BuckID or $15 the day of the show from the Wexner Center website.