Homecoming step show brings life to Foster

Homecoming step show brings life to Foster

In the past, audiences often filled the seats of Foster Auditorium for sports events, lectures, concerts and even graduation ceremonies, but the building stood largely unused until April 2009 when the University announced major renovation plans.

Tonight the National Pan-Hellenic Council will host its annual step show in Foster, the first event in the auditorium since its renovation.

“We are so elated, so ecstatic about this because it really is surreal to be the first event to be hosted in Foster Auditorium, considering the history and especially as it relates to African Americans,” said Temani Beck, the director of NPHC events and a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. “It’s really surreal when you think about how far the University has come. This is a huge milestone.”

The show, hosted by comedian Joe Clair and DJ Serious, will begin at 8 p.m. with doors opening at 7.

Six NPHC fraternities and sororities will participate in the competition, which is traditionally judged by alumni from each of the teams.

Featured performers will include the winners of this year’s Choreography Contest and Talent Show, as well as the University’s Rip Tide Dance Team and the TKO Step Team from Opelika.

Beck is responsible for planning, facilitating and coordinating the entire show, with help from a committee and advisers. Though this is her first year as director, she gained hands-on experience as a committee member for last year’s show.

“We expand the show every year,” Beck said. “Last year we had between 2,300 and 2,500 patrons, and this year we’re reaching for 3,000. We’re also adding new components, like technical capabilities to run short videos to introduce the teams’ shows.”

Beck and others have been planning since late May in order to organize such a huge show, now an official homecoming event. The show’s theme, “The Pride. The Celebration.,” is based on the University’s theme, “Share the Pride, Celebrate the Tide.”

Last year was the first year the Student Government Association co-sponsored the step show, which NPHC has hosted for more than 30 years.

“Every year the amount of tension and intensity behind this show increases,” Beck said. “It’s so unifying, even though there’s always that rivalry and that level of competition.”

Because the show is so deeply rooted in tradition, many alumni and active chapter members make an effort to attend the event along with parents and friends of the participants.

Whether you are greek or not, anyone can enjoy coming out to see the competition and rivalry between organizations, Beck said.

“The fraternities and sororities you love to see step will be competing once again,” Beck said. “They will display their creativity, talent and pride on stage as they battle it out for the top prize.”

Last year’s fraternity winner was Alpha Phi Alpha, and the sorority winner was Delta Sigma Theta.

The teams often begin practicing shortly after school begins in order to learn their steps, said Roderick Avery, a senior and member of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.

“It was definitely a lot of preparation,” Avery said of their victory. “We worked hard, night in and night out, sometimes staying up until 12 or 1 a.m. There were nights when we were sore and sweating, but it paid off in the long run.”

Avery stepped for his fraternity during last year’s show and is returning as their stepmaster this year, a challenge for which he volunteered. Being stepmaster entails deciding which steps to implement and overseeing the direction of the show, along with help from the other team members.

“There’s definitely more pressure this year,” he said. “I feel like we set the bar high. It’s a legacy to uphold. My organization, we take stepping seriously, and we have a passion for it.”

Avery said he expects more creative shows and tougher competition this year, but he’s looking forward to competing as part of his last homecoming at the University.

“I’m ready to make history again,” he said.

Teddy Phillips, a member of Alpha Phi Alpha and president of NPHC, said he expects his fraternity to reclaim its title due to all the time they’ve invested in the show, their stepping and their video.

“I won’t step, but I’ll be onstage,” Phillips said, not wanting to give away anything about the show.

The winning fraternity and sorority receive $700, and the second place teams each receive $400. The winning teams will also perform on Saturday at the Alumni Affairs Homecoming Stage on the Quad.

However, money isn’t the only sought-after reward.

“You get the first place trophy and prize money but also bragging rights for a full year,” Beck said.

Advance tickets are $15 for students and $20 for the general public. All tickets purchased the day of the show will be $20. For ticket information, visit crimsonartstickets.com.

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