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Step Teams Compete to Be Named 'Best in Brooklyn'

By Janet Upadhye | April 30, 2014 4:48pm
 Five step teams will compete at Long Island University for the title of "Best in Brooklyn."
Five step teams will compete at Long Island University for the title of "Best in Brooklyn."
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Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc.

FORT GREENE — Five step teams from New York City are set to compete in Brooklyn's first college step competition for the title of "Best in Brooklyn."

Steppers have up to 15 minutes this weekend to stomp their hearts out in front of a panel of eight judges who will score them on categories such as creativity, precision, difficulty, costume and synchronization during Long Island University's inaugural "Rise of an Empire Step Competition."

The competition is a first for Brooklyn, where fraternity and sorority steppers practice all year round in Fort Greene Park and on Flatbush Avenue and rarely get the chance to compete.

"They perform at picnics and events," said organizer Natasha Lewis, Director of Greek Life at LIU. "But to compete and win in Brooklyn would be major."

"It would mean everything to them."

Step Correct, in Jamaica, Queens, is currently the only other annual step competition in the city, Lewis noted.

Steppers use a combination of footsteps, claps and the spoken word to show pride and allegiance to a group, according to Lewis.

Step has its roots in African dance and became popular among African-American fraternities and sororities in the early 1900s.

"There is a rich and historic heritage to the step movements," she said.

Students involved in Greek life from colleges and universities like LIU Brooklyn, Brooklyn College, College of Staten Island and New York City Tech are set to compete in the competition. Even though cash and a trophy are on the table for the winners, it's the bragging rights that will count. 

"It's a pride thing," Lewis said. "To be the first winners in a Brooklyn competition, that is something they will always have."

The lineup for the competition between the teams of 8-15 has already been set.

"Rise of An Empire" will be held at LIU Brooklyn in the Schwartz Gymnasium at 5p.m. on Saturday, May 3. Advanced tickets cost $15 and can be purchased online.

Below is a video of Long Island University's Delta Sigma Theta performing at the 2013 Step Correct competition.