Despite snowstorms and postponements, an electric, energetic crowd filled Lisner Auditorium Sunday night for “Step Your Game Up,” Alpha Phi Alpha’s 13th annual step show that featured step teams from schools along the East Coast and the D.C. area.
The show, which featured a judged competition of various step teams – some from the D.C. area, some from beyond and many representing various multicultural Greek-letter organizations – was composed of high-energy performances in which dancers used their entire bodies to create rhythm and percussion. The dancing is traditionally associated with black colleges and has its roots in many forms of traditional African dance.
GW’s Alpha Phi Alpha chapter did not participate, but it organized and hosted the event. Ticket proceeds benefited the Black Genesis Scholarship Fund, March for Babies, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Fund, and the Haiti Relief Fund.
Although Sunday’s event had been rescheduled from Feb. 6 due to snow, Shakir Cannon-Moye, a senior and president of Alpha Phi Alpha, said the event was well-attended.
The master of ceremonies, actress and recording artist Amanda Diva, guided the enthusiasm of a loud, participatory crowd that was eager to show support for its fraternities, sororities, friends and family.
“We appreciated the crowd. The crowd gave us a lot of energy,” said Isaac Mireku, one of the guest performers and a member of the winning squad, Phi Beta Sigma’s “No Mercy” step company.
Many of the participating teams gave themed performances. The Phi Beta Sigma team did a spoof of “Guitar Hero,” beginning its performance with a skit about “Step Hero.”
The only sorority to participate, Delta Sigma Theta had a theme of “take down the frats.” Dramatizing its performance with a vampire-like flare, the team declared, “We’re after the frats. They know we are unstoppable. And we are out for blood.”
Other teams sported memorable names. Iota Phi Theta called its team “The Untouchables,” Phi Beta Sigma declared themselves “No Mercy” and another Alpha Phi Alpha chapter from Long Island went by “The A-Team.”
Not all teams were college-aged, either. First to perform was an elementary school-aged, all-girls team called “Evolution.” GW freshman Joel Uyenco said this team was his favorite.
“I was happy to see young people participating, getting involved,” he said.
The show also featured a performance by hip-hop artist Youngsta “The 80s Baby.” The artist, coming all the way from Chicago, pulled a few members of the audience on stage to sing and dance.
After each team had a chance to perform, the judges calculated their scores while a dancing, cheering crowd, directed by Diva, voted “American-idol style” for its favorite team. Forty-two percent of the text-message votes went to “The A-team,” followed by 21 percent for the “No Mercy” Sigmas.
Still, the judges, not text messages, determined the victors. Diva called for a drum roll, then announced the runner-ups: the Deltas and “The A-Team.” The “No Mercy” Sigmas were pronounced the winners.
“There was a lot of competition,” said Kent Acquah-Abbiw, a member of the “No Mercy” company. “We’re glad we came out on top. We put a lot of hard work into this, so we’re glad it paid off.”
GW freshman Jasmine Ellis said the step show brought her back to her childhood.
“I grew up in a Greek family, and my parents were in college when I was younger,” she said, “so I used to go to step shows a lot. It was great, just like I remembered it.”
In many ways this show was even better and even more elaborate, Ellis said. “They had props. They had music, a DJ, lights, everything – loved it.”