Steppin’ it out: The Divine 9 prepares for Homecoming performances



By Jennifer Abreu

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Students may have caught sight of the Divine 9 Black Greek Letter Organizations stepping or strolling on UK’s campus before and during events like Stompapalooza or during “yard shows.” Stomp … clap … step… And this Friday you can catch them at the National Pan-Hellenic Council Step Show in Memorial Coliseum at 7:30 p.m.

Six organizations of the NPHC will be performing at the show.

NPHC is a coalition of the largest historically African-American Greek fraternities and sororities. Out of the nine NPHC organizations, six will be competing at the step show this year: Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. and Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc.

Not only is the stepshow an opportunity for students to have a real college experience, but it is also a great way to help out in the community, said NPHC President Josh Ridgeway.

“The biggest importance is that it is our biggest fundraiser of the year, and our donation goes to Big Brothers Big Sisters,” Ridgeway said.

This year’s step show is a different one for NPHC because this is only the second year they have collaborated with Student Activities Board.

“What we’re most excited about this year is that we have been working together with SAB, Student Government and the Student Affairs Office to make sure that we have an incredible step show,” Ridgeway sa­­id.

Working together with other organizations on campus has been working for NPHC, and it’s helped them build a community at UK and in Lexington, Ridgeway said.

“We are excited that the campus is becoming more aware of it, and we’re starting to get more people involved,” he said.

Ridgeway said the idea of working with SAB came from both sides, and the partnership promises a successful step show on Friday.

“People can expect a whole lot of excitement, strolling and stepping,” he said.

Ridgeway guaranteed that students will leave Memorial Coliseum that night wanting to come back for more step because of the excitement and enthusiasm given off by all the different organizations that will be performing.

James Frazier, a pharmacy student at UK who is also a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., said his organization will be bringing something different to the show.

“We actually do something called hopping.” Frazier said.

Hopping is different from stepping, but Omega Psi Phi is rumored to have been responsible for implementing both forms into the Black Greek Letter Organizations. In hopping, members jump into the air to execute the motions, which include spinning and even the splits. It is a tradition that has been a part of Omega Psi Phi since the 1950s, Frazier said.

“With stepping, the movements are grounded for the most part,” Frazier said. “Hopping is basically putting the claps, the kicks and different motions … in the air.”

Harris said staying up in the air is more intense. “There are times we are completely airborne,” he said.

Because hopping is so challenging and intensive with all the jumping, Omega Psi Phi needs to dedicate a lot of time for practice. Practices for Omega Psi Phi start as early as summer and include intensive conditioning, Frazier said.

“It’s almost like practice in football, basketball or other sports where you have to get in condition first, before you do any of the actual play,” he said.

As the day of performance approaches and the excitement and expectations increase, so does the amount of hours Omega Psi Phi has to practice.

“The week before the show we practice every day, sometimes twice a day, to make sure we are as precise as possible,” Frazier said.

Other organizations will be contributing to the show with their distinct traditions and themes. Frazier said he is excited about the diversity, and anticipates this year’s show to be very creative.

“Everybody has their own unique thing that they do,” he said. “It’s fun. It’s exciting to see how they do it. Some of them have video, some of them have sound bytes, costumes and props.”

This year’s homecoming theme is Cats Set Sail, and Frazier said each organization will incorporate that theme into their traditional performances.

As far as Omega Psi Phi, Frazier didn’t reveal much about their performance on Friday evening, but gives the crowd a little taste.

“We are definitely going to hop,” he said. “We are going to incorporate some new things, just trying to spice it up a little bit and keep the energy pumped up.”

All organizations have been putting not only their physical efforts into the preparation for the show, but also their hearts, their passion for competing, performing and, most of all, stepping.

Kristen Payne-Stikes, step master of the UK chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha, said stepping is just as important to her organization as a whole as it is to her personally. “Stepping is something that unifies our organization,” she said.

Stepping is both a hobby and a passion for Payne-Stikes; but competing is what challenges her with all the long practices, sweaty clothes and the stress of balancing school, a life off campus and stepping.

“There are times you don’t want to practice, but once you win you know your hard work has paid off.” Payne-Stikes said.

Payne-Stikes said sometimes practices will last late into the night and, as students, they really have to learn how to prioritize.

She said discipline is one of the most important things you have to have as part of a stepping chapter, but Alpha Kappa Alpha transforms that serious discipline and tough practice into a sassy, feminine performance.

“Our thing is about being pretty, very precise and still energetic,” Payne-Stikes said. That is what their tradition calls for and that’s what the Alpha Kappa Alpha girls will be bringing onto the floor  Friday night, she said.

Payne-Stikes describes in one simple sentence what most students performing  at the Step Show are feeling.

“I am so excited for Friday,” she said.

Ridgeway believes a true college experience is not complete until you attend a step show. “I think this is something every college student should go to at least once before they graduate,” she said.

Tickets are $10 with a valid student ID or $12 for general public in advance, available at the Student Center Ticket Office or on