BY SARAH PORTERFIELD
SC Staff Writer
The Patricia Graham Step Show served as a finale for African American Heritage Month. The step show included both members of Greek life and dance teams at Abeloff Center on Saturday, March 2, at 7:30 PM.
Cornelia Sewell-Allen, Coordinator of the Office of Multicultural Affairs and one of the main organizers of the event, said the purpose of the event was to get people involved, have a good time and share some of the heritage of stepping.
In the ten minute presentation by Sewell-Allen and Jazmyn Pulley, Greek Affairs Advisers, a video called “History of Stepping: A PBS Production” was shown. The video clip explained that stepping began by mixing military drill exercises with traditional African foot dances.
Stepping is a rhythmic pattern that involves stomping and clapping, a combination of body movements in recurring beats, almost like a dance. It has become a part of the culture of Greek life and can even be used as a right of passage.
The African American Heritage Month committee hopes to make the step show an annual tradition. The committee has named the show after Dr. Patricia Graham, Department Chair of Intercultural and Interdisciplinary Studies and director of Voices of Triumph Gospel Choir, who is retiring after 36 years of service.
Hostess Tambria Lee described Dr. Graham as having a “sweet voice and big smile.”
Student Phillip Anthony called her “a role model and mentor” as well as “the foxiest professor on campus.” He ended his introduction by exclaiming, “She be fly!”
He along with Efia King and other members of the African American Heritage Month Committee presented Graham with flowers and an award.
The five groups who performed stepping were ESU Explosion team, Mu Sigma Upsilon, Gamma Sigma, Kutztown Explosive team, and Eric Jeffe as the “Sigma Tron.” The Praise Team composed of five members also sang a few gospel songs both at the beginning and middle of the show.
Interspersed between the stepping and dancing performances were various competitions including best “sexy walk,” best stepping, and “Name that Tune.”
Co-hosts Kevin Dolce and Tambria Lee additionally offered commentary on the performances and game contestants.
Three judges determined the winners of the show. Fred Butler, one of the judges, said he enjoyed the show though stepping has changed from when he was in Greek life. He said it currently involves “more dancing and hopping” than during his time.
The ESU sorority winner was Mu Sigma Upsilon who performed several routines in colorful costumes. The fraternity winner was Eric Jeffe as the “Sigma Tron.” He began his show by acting as a robot coming out of a large box. One stunt he performed was a flip with a chair. The crowd clapped loudly several times during his performance including when he threw off his mask and outer shirt.
After the show members from the stepping teams were asked about why they step and what they like best about stepping. Many said they loved the performing aspect of it and the feeling of being on stage in front of people. Some commented on the feeling of togetherness when performing and the community that develops as a response. Others said it was their love of making rhythms and beats that motivated them to step. Jeffe “Sigma Tron” said “I do it for my fraternity, to represent them well and get others to join; the more the better.”
Though some audience members complained about no discount prices for children, the miscommunication about what time the show started, and thought it dragged a bit, many audience members said they enjoyed it.
Over one hundred people attended the step show. Ticket seller Efia King was hoping for more people but said, “The people who are here are meant to be here.”
The show ended around 9:45 PM, and there was an after party at the Glare Hookah Lounge at 10 PM. The African American Heritage Month has now officially ended with stomps, claps and steps. Many consider it to have been a great success.
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