Many years ago, African tribes used dance as a means of communication between individuals in the community and separate tribes. As time, and history, moved forward, the dance steps used by generations of tribal Africans has transformed into a different, although similar, kind of expression for many fraternities and sororities today.
Now, in the form of synchronized movements, heavy beats and stomping, various African-American Greek organizations have taken the movements and made them their own.
In the United States, stepping, as the dance is called, has transformed from the developments of the dance in the early 1900’s through the decades and into the forefront of today’s hip hop world.
And, while hip hop isn’t always the main topic of conversation on the CSU campus, November’s annual Hip Hop Explosion motivates many students to bust a move and/or eagerly anticipate attending the event.
This year’s Hip Hop Explosion will be held Saturday at 7p.m. in the Lincoln Center and will feature six competing teams, in addition to other performances such as comedy acts, singers and rappers. Although most of the performers are members of black Greek organizations, anyone is welcome to compete.
“Basically it is a step show competition,” said Quill Phillips, who is one of the coordinators for the event. “It is made up of predominantly black sororities and fraternities but anyone is allowed to compete.”
The Greeks started the competition 13 years ago and have worked closely with the CSU’s Black Student Alliance ever since, said Phillips.
The show will also consist of various judges who elect winners of the competition based on a variety of criteria and categories.
“We have a panel of 5 judges that choose one sorority or fraternity as the winner each year,” Phillips said. “The competitors will be judged on synchronization, use of props and time. The teams have 10 minutes to complete their step and we start with the youngest Greek organization and finish with the oldest Greek organization.”
The event, said Phillips, has received a positive response since its conception.
“We sell out every year,” Phillips said. “We also do a very good job of advertising.”
Zeta Phi Beta member Adesuwa Eoaiho is one of the many competitors in this year’s competition and is a seasoned veteran when it comes to dance. She has been dancing and competing since high school.
“I did professional dancing in Germany in high school,” Eoaiho said. “My high school coach was in this sorority (Zeta Phi Beta) and that’s how I got started stepping.”
Many of the teams can be made up of multiple sororities or even multiple colleges, Eoaiho said, making it somewhat difficult to get the group together for practicing, but creating an atmosphere open to different talents.
“Sometimes we combine the chapters,” said Eoaiho. “I step for Zeta Phi Beta, but I could go join another group if I wanted to . when we combine teams we try to get together to practice, but its really tough with everyone’s schedules.”
Each sorority is known for a certain style of stepping, she said, and doves are Zeta Phi Beta’s theme. Each group is responsible for coming up with an original routine each year and can use the create freedom to create pieces that only get better by the year.
“We think we came up with the best show ever this year,” said Eoaiho.
Tickets for the Hip Hop Explosion are available at the Lincoln Center. For more information visit the CSU Black Student Services Web site.
Staff writer Chris Seegers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.