Third Annual Step Show coming to Washburn

Matthew L. Self

The Step Show will be held at 7 p.m. on Feb. 28 at White Concert Hall. The performance will be free to Washburn students who bring their student IDs as well as Greeks wearing their letters. General admission for non-students will be $5. Washburn University will host the third annual Step Show which will feature unique and exciting performances by the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity and the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority along with other groups invited from colleges in Kansas. The Step Show is a one-of-a-kind performance that teaches the audience about African-American culture and history while also giving the audience an incredible display of gymnastics and break dancing. Students who haven’t seen this performance in the past are sure to be blown away by the impressive talent that will be hosted at White Concert Hall.

The Step Show can be described as a percussive dance where the performer’s entire body is used as an instrument during the show. A mixture of hand claps, music, and stomping feet are used during the performance which is where the Step Show gets its name. Each different ‘stepping’ group is unique in that they each tell a different story and have a different performance that they spend months perfecting to create an amazing show for the audience.

The Step Show is tied with the group known as the Divine Nine which is a gathering of fraternities and sororities that are steeped in the history of African-Americans. Two of the Divine Nine are currently at Washburn: Alpha Kappa Alpha and Kappa Alpha Psi. Many famous and college-educated African-Americans were and are members of one of the fraternities or sororities associated with the Divine Nine including Dr. Martin Luther King who was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha.

Cedrick Henderson-Smith, a junior at Washburn who is studying criminal justice, helped to organize this year’s Step Show.

“I saw the Step Show in my freshman year and I was really impressed by the performance. Seeing it for the first time made me want to get involved,” Cedrick said. “I became a member of Kappa Alpha Psi my sophomore year and this year I am the chairman of the event. The performance is a good opportunity for students to see something they haven’t seen before and be able to witness the talents of the performers and learn more about black history.”

Danielle Dempsey-Swopes, the Director of the University Diversity and Inclusion department, spoke about the history of the step shows in America.

“Lots of universities around the country their historically African American and their fraternities and sororities have a history of forming step shows. It comes from a tradition when slaves were brought from Africa to the Americas, people used clapping and singing in lots of ways of communicating and so as part of being connected to those historic roots these historic organizations put on these shows for one another to communicate their ideals and their history,” Dempsey-Swopes said. “It’s a really great, fun black history month performance.”