Culture » Performing Arts

A Step Up

Colorado College step show bridges communities



Colorado College sits adjacent to bustling downtown Colorado Springs and its residential neighborhoods and just feet from the Fine Arts Center. Yet the two worlds -- the population of CC and the general populace of Colorado Springs -- seldom meet and mingle.

But at least one organization on the CC campus wants to see that change. In a determined effort to further reach out to the Colorado Springs community, The Colorado College Black Student Union (BSU) has organized its fourth annual Step Show and competition.

Step is a style of dance that combines rhythmic stomping, clapping and synchronized body movements not unlike military drills. More recently, it also incorporates jazz and hip-hop moves. Occasionally, props such as canes are used in the routines. Stepping reaches back almost 100 years and is most commonly associated with African-American fraternities and sororities.

The show is a part of the Black History Celebration, a larger event organized every year by the BSU in conjunction with Black History month. This year the show's theme is "Creating the Village."

According to Amanda Addison, co-president of the BSU, the theme represents a celebration of Colorado Springs and the Colorado College communities.

"In African culture, the village represents the ultimate effort and collaboration between people," she said. Following that principle, BSU seeks to collaborate with the members of the Colorado Springs community, to create, educate and nourish our village.

While CC has no official chapters of African-American fraternities or sororities on campus, there are students who are members of national chapters. For example, the president of the sorority Delta Sigma Theta lives on CC's campus. But the closest chapter is in Denver. Likewise, two fraternities with chapters in Denver -- Omega Psi Phi and Kappa Alpha Psi -- also have members at CC. All three Greek organizations will be participating in the show.

Joining them will be four high-school step teams, two of which are from Denver. Locally, step teams from Sierra and Rampart high schools are also on the program.

Local talk-radio personality and African-American community leader P.M. Wynn will host this year's show.

This year's performances will take on a slightly different format. Due to the number of fraternities and sororities that were unable to attend, the BSU decided to do away with the competition and just showcase local talent instead.

Addison is not disappointed. "Being on the CC campus, we don't get a lot of exposure to our own culture," she said. "Our goal is to educate the college community about Black history and the African-American community that's here in the Springs."

By providing residents a chance to learn about CC's unique environment while simultaneously giving the students an opportunity to learn more about their neighbors in the broader Colorado Springs community, BSU hopes to achieve just that.

BSU plans to donate 25 percent of the show's proceeds to the EMB (Ella Mae Branson) Sickle Cell Association, a local charity that provides counseling and support for Sickle Cell patients and their families.

--Suzanne Becker

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