Last Saturday, when I told my friends that I was going to the Step Show Competition at Strong Auditorium and asked if they wanted to join me, the most common response was a blank stare and the question, ‘What is a Step Show?” Regardless, the Black Students’ Union’s 7th annual Unity Step Show had Strong Auditorium filled almost to capacity. It was the best that I have seen in all my three years as a student at UR.

There were two college step teams competing for a $1,200 cash prize and three high school teams competing for a $250 prize. The two college teams were the University of Buffalo Step Team and Black Reign from Syracuse University. The high school competitors consisted of The Flawless Females from The School Without Walls, The Distinguished Gentlemen from the School of Arts and The Pearls.

The show also included an opening tap dance/hip-hop performance by our very own Ballet Performance Group and a high-energy performance by Indulgence

While the performances were amazing, the most interesting aspect of the show was the audience, as they were unlike any other crowd I had encountered at our school. They duly appreciated and noted every hard move with shouts and loud clapping. The audience was as much involved in the show as the dancers.

After all the dancers performed, the judges started to deliberate. In the meantime, multicultural Greeks from UR, Rochester Institute of Technology and Monroe Community College came on stage to perform their strolls.

Finally, a tense silence blanketed the whole auditorium as the results were announced. First place in the high school competition was awarded to the Distinguished Gentlemen of the school of the arts, while second place went to The Pearls. For the college competition, the Buffalo Step Team came in first, while Black Reign came in second that’s where the controversy exploded as the crowd rose up in frustration.
The host, DJ BabyKat, announced that there would be a ‘dance-off” between Buffalo and Black Reign to determine who would get bragging rights. The instant this was announced, the audience went wild objections and incredulous screams were reverberating around the building.

Black Reign requested that Buffalo’s captain come front and center stage to watch their performance. After they performed their routine, they stared down the Buffalo team. Buffalo retaliated with just their male steppers performing a routine.

DJ BabyKat asked the audience members to cheer for who they felt won. The noise levels determined that Black Reign would go home with the bragging rights, even though they wouldn’t see a piece of the cash prize. At that point, the audience was asked to leave the auditorium as the show had run longer than expected.

I was incredibly sad to leave. If the show stretched another two hours to determine who the ‘real winner” was, I would have had no qualms with staying. I entered Strong with a vague knowledge of what stepping was, and I came out knowing that a step show is not just a performance; it is a cultural experience.

Jung is a member of
the class of 2011.

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