History of Stepping

    Stepping is a complex performance that melds folk traditions with popular culture and involves synchronized percussive movement, singing, speaking, chanting, and drama. 


    Stepping is also a historical form of communication and storytelling that is widely performed by fraternities and sororities that belong to the National Pan-Hellenic Council, an organization which directs the traditionally African-American national sororities and fraternities.


    Like much African-American music and dance, step dance relies on improvisation, call and response, complex meters, propulsive rhythms and a percussive attack. Stepping dates back to the early 20th century, when Black veterans of World War I enrolled in colleges. Inspired by their military training, they brought to their dances a highly rigorous, drill like component and combined it with elements from other Black dances, just as today's steppers often add hip-hop movements.


    Others say that stepping replaced the doo-woop sounds and cardigan sweaters of the 50s. At around the same time as the "Black Power" Movements and Africa centered movements of the 60s, stepping started to flourish with the incorporation of some traditional African ritual dancing and the incorporation of other elements like cheer leading, tap, gymnastics, etc. Over the years stepping has become very intricate and demanding incorporating props, high levels of gymnastics and other elements found in team sports. It is through these and many other factors that stepping began to become an intimate part of Black Greek Lettered Organizations.


    Stepping now occurs almost everywhere. College and University residence halls have teams, predominantly White fraternities and sororities may step during Greek Week. High school and youth groups step, as well as some church youth groups. Furthermore, stepping is very popular with other culturally-based fraternal organizations--Latin, Asian, and multicultural.


    To see an example of "stepping" you can visit the following website: www.mystepshow.com

Last Modified on May 26, 2022