Leah Seupersad, 404-413-1354
Members of sororities and fraternities at Georgia State University practiced all year to be ready for Georgia State University's annual Greek Showcase.
For Kortney Easterly, it was her first time performing with Delta Sigma Theta Sorority's Zeta Phi Chapter, which is just one of the many Greek organizations at GSU who step to entertain audiences and educate them about the history and purpose of their organizations.
"Stepping is a great way that African-Americans were able to express their artistic and musical creative talents. So when we are stepping we're giving people a little snippet of the many talents that Delta Sigma Theta Inc. has," said Easterly, president of the Zeta Phi Chapter and a senior double majoring in journalism and sociology.
Steppers use chants, their hands, feet and other body parts to create rhythmic patterns. The organizations are judged at competitions for the full-fledged productions they create that demonstrate precision, synchronization and the ability to wow the crowd.
"When you see stepping it looks so easy, but it's extremely difficult," Easterly said, "I love learning the different transitions of the steps and I love seeing how things come together."
During this month's GSU Greek Showcase, the Deltas stepped as mimes.
"We wanted to do something new and innovative," Easterly said. "Basically the concept was displaying these ladies who have everything and what would happen if we took away their voices, looks, creativity and swagger."
The GSU Alpha Kappa Alpha Eta Mu Chapter, who won the GSU competition, performed a routine based off of the movie "Coming to America," which portrays an African prince traveling to America to find a wife that he can respect for her intelligence and will.
"Prince Hakim was looking for the best step team to call his own step team. So he traveled to America and that's when we stepped and he fell in love with us," said Ericka Tummings, a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Eta Mu chapter.
The Greek Showcase was sponsored by Spotlight Programs Board.
Historically, stepping has been widely popularized by member organizations from the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC), which nationally coordinates the nine historically black Greek letter fraternities and sororities. However, movies like "Stomp the Yard," "Drumline" and popular television shows such as "America's Best Dance Crew" have helped bring stepping to the mainstream.
"I'm naturally a performer and I love being on stage and I love the adrenaline," said Tummings, a senior biology major who was also a former member of the GSU cheer team.
Tummings said the keys to a good step performance are precision and energy.
"You also have to keep the steps exciting, because some step shows can get boring or repetitive, so it has to be some wow factor in there to capture the audience and judges so you can stand out," she said.
Greek organizations have stepped at various events around Atlanta, including local middle schools and the Atlanta Boys and Girls Club. The GSU AKA's even won second place in the Sprite regional competition in Atlanta.
"It took a lot of hard work, time, effort and energy," Tummings said.
Besides its entertainment value and competitive nature, stepping is a popular way for members to bond while they have fun promoting the organization and its mission.
"Greek organizations are really here for scholarship and service and serving as a role model on our campus and in the community. Stepping is a way for us to make it more public," Tummings said. "The step team allows us to present our organization for people who may be interested in joining or people who just like stepping and want to see us perform."
April 18, 2011