Culture, expression and old-fashioned competition.
These were the elements for the Extravaganza Step Show that took place Friday in the Marshall Student Center Oval Theater.
The event was organized by the National Pan-Hellenic Council — also known as the “Divine Nine”, which is a collaborative organization of nine historically African-American and multicultural Greek-lettered fraternities and sororities.
According to Malik Waters, a brother of the Iota Phi Theta Fraternity and Parliamentarian for the Council, the show creates a space where Divine Nine organizations can compete against each other in a step show fashion to represent for their specific organization and attract new faces to the multicultural Greek community.
“This also brings alumni back to the campus to celebrate black culture and … the opportunity to revisit Greek life,” Waters said.
The return of black alumni also ties into the significance for the Council’s decision to host this event during homecoming weekend.
“This gives them a variety of events to partake in during their visit so that they can remain in Tampa for a longer stay,” Waters said.
Initially, the Step Show was to be held at the USF Baseball Stadium and sponsored by USF Athletics, in hopes of attracting the traffic from the homecoming Parade as it passes Alumni Drive. Due to weather concerns, however, the location was ultimately changed.
“Being that it was a conflict with the scheduling of the Talent Show and Extrav, it took away from the vision of having the step show be a bigger part of Homecoming to showcase the true diversity within the USF community,” Waters said. “We wanted to show both students and non-students a piece of Black culture. A lot of the times, our history can either be forgotten or taken away from us, so we want to share and celebrate it with the community.”
Show attendees were able to watch a total of five performances from two fraternities and three sororities.
Of the participating ladies – Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority – the sisters of Zeta Phi Beta have taken home the victory for two consecutive years.
Jasmine Morton, a sister of the winning sorority, recalled a significant moment in their winning performance, Blue is the New Black, a prison-themed step combination, in which the steppers “broke out of prison.”
“The scene … was my favorite because it was our tribute to the injustice that is currently going on in our society,” Morton said. “Winning the Extravaganza Step Show for the second year in a row proves that all of our hard-work, consistency, creativity, and determination was well worth it.”
Markayla Leggett, a sophomore majoring in criminal justice, recalled the show as entertaining.
“It was amazing. The Iotas were my favorite part,” Leggett said.
In addition to the Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, the FAU Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity also competed in the show.
“Being that this was my first time participating in Extrav as a performer, it was an amazing experience,” Waters said.
In addition to participating for the first time, Waters and his fraternity brothers now have bragging rights as the Extravaganza Step Show 2016 champions.
“Every org left it all on the stage and the resulting win was an overall victory for all the hard work and commitment put in by my brothers and I,” Waters said.
According to Waters, the Council uses stepping – a form of percussive dance with roots in African and Caribbean dance – as a nonverbal form of communication and expression that brings one to an intense flush of excitement and focus.
“The steps also have ties to resistance identities found in Black culture throughout history,” he said.
And for Morton, stepping is a way for people to come together as one and express their talents.
“I started stepping my eighth grade year … and haven’t stopped since,” she said. “Stepping is a way for me to give back to my community while having fun doing it.”