Students celebrate culture through dance

Margaret Bendorf

Margaret Bendorf

“Stepping is not just a dance, it’s our culture, it’s the way we live, eat, think, breathe,” a voice stated at the African American Step and Drill Show on Saturday night, Feb. 12. The show exposed audiences to a major aspect of the black culture.

“None of us have seen anything like this before,” said junior Kim Lindell.

The event, as a whole, was definitely an experience SDSU has not presented before. The Iowa State University Marching Cyclone Drill Team and Cyclone Steps performed last year in the Volstorff Ball Room. Rozhyer Aware, program advisor for Multicultural Affairs, said she received very positive feedback after last year’s show and that many students wanted it back. Recognizing that SDSU is now a Division I school, Aware decided to bring more teams for a bigger and better show.

Little did she know that one other team would be added to the program. At a Black Student Alliance (BSA) meeting three weeks ago, Aware proposed the idea of SDSU students putting together a step team of their own.

“The students loved it!” Aware said.

Other teams, like the University of Nebraska Omaha’s Phi Beta Sigma and Zeta Phi Beta may have been practicing as early as December, but their experience does not reach above and beyond that of BSA’s. Diana Lauritson, president of the Tao Alpha chapter of Zeta Phi Beta, said this was the first time their team had ever performed. The team members were eager for this opportunity.

“It’s fun to expose people to black Greek organizations,” said Tania Parker of Zeta Phi Beta.

Troy Ezell from Phi Beta Sigma was just as eager to put all their practice to use.

“We work real hard, we’re real proud, and I think we’ll do really good,” Ezell said.

Master of Ceremony, comedian Derrick “DJ” Thompson, started the show with a little humorous flavor of his own and continued adding it between performances. He also reminded everyone of the importance of all cultures coming together to form, what he called a “uniculture”. This mindset prevailed not only in the different cultures represented by the audience, but also in the performances. The Cyclone Steps had one Asian-American on their team, and one member of Zeta Phi Beta, a traditionally African-American sorority, is Caucasian.

Each performance brought its own unique aspect, and besides stepping, no two were alike at all. The BSA started things off with the guys and girls “challenging” each other on which group had better moves, but came together in the end and stepped as a team. The Cyclone Steps came next with a story line about a girl showing interest in joining the steps team. Then Phi Beta Sigma brought the crowd to life with their Frankenstein theme. “The Omaha guys (Phi Beta Sigma) were definitely the best,” said freshman Emily Hammerquist.

The show then took a short intermission for a raffle drawing, sponsored by the Minority Peer Mentor Program. Zeta Phi Beta followed their brothers’ act, incorporating much of their history and purpose into the introduction. The Marching Cyclone Drill Team gave their audience a grand finale, bringing drums, trumpets, trombones and the steps team all onto the stage.

A mixed audience came away with a better understanding, and perhaps appreciation of, the importance of step dance in black culture.