Assignment 2: Cultural Expansion Paper
April 11, 2014
What is stepping or step-dancing? It is a form of percussive dance in which participants entire body is used as an instrument to produce complex rhythms and sounds through a mixture of footsteps, spoken word, and hand claps. Basically, a step is a collection of rhythms made by using the hands and feet, and occasionally props such as canes. Responding to chants or calls, a team stomps their feet or claps hands to a base beat along with moving into different formations. In actuality there is more to stepping than this and the rich history of this form of entertainment that is very interesting. Stepping began in the early African American slave community which they used as a form of communication and keeping hold of traditional aspects of the denied culture. It served mainly as a link back to African tribal dance, which in many areas at the time was prohibited. Call-and-response folk songs helped the slaves to survive culturally and to spread word about important matters, such as the Underground Railroad. Several generations later, Black World War II veterans added in a military march theme to the sounds, while Motown grooves and Hip-Hop energy added more entertainment and increased the appeal of the art form. In the late 1960s, historically Black fraternities and sororities began embracing stepping at college campuses which has also been embraced here at the Missouri University of Science Technology. There are often specific steps to each chapter and sometimes the groups playfully mock each other's styles during competitions and benefits. Every black fraternities and sororities here at Missouri S&T have their own kind of stepping that symbolizes what fraternity or sorority they represent. The most popular step routines have been passed down and many of the songs are still used and housed in each Fraternities and Sororities history archives. Many times a step performance ends or incorporates the use of a chant that is associated with the respected organization. A chant is a song that is worded or has a rhythm specific to that organization.
On March 8, 2014 I attended the 8th Annual Dance XXXplosion presented by the Epislon Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity. The Dance XXXplosion is Missouri’s longest running collegiate dance competition that is annually held on the campus at Leach Theatre and it was my first time attending. When I heard the stories of how great last year’s Dance XXXplosion I thought I go to this event and see what was all the talk about. Also most of my football teammates where attending this Dance XXXplosion because they were part of the black fraternity. As I entered the building all I could see was all the different fraternities and sororities stepping around and yelling