Exploring the History of Step



Written by Soumia Hammi, Jessica Finol, Kerren Dieuveille, and Imani Woodin


During slavery, African-Americans were forbidden from beating on drums during the 1740s because plantation owners feared that it signaled a slave uprising. Therefore, enslaved African-Americans would use their bodies to beat out rhythms. This dance style eventually evolved into jigging and then tap dancing. During the 1900s, Black fraternities and sororities in colleges and universities began the style known as stepping. 


The first official Greek Step Show, a major event in which sororities and fraternities celebrate new initiations, was held at Howard University in 1976, where stepping became established as the recognizable style known now. Today, stepping has become a way for Greek organizations to show spirit and pride in their respective sorority or fraternity. In addition, many high schools have step teams that perform for pep rallies. In 2019, the World of Step, an international stepping community, was created to embrace the inclusivity of step. Haka, Zapateo Peruano, Taino Culture, Irish Step Dance, and more are also included and celebrated as unique and cultural forms of stepping by the World of Step.


StepAfrika! holds the title of “Washington, DC’s only cultural ambassador” and after seeing them perform live you will understand why. StepAfrika! is a performing arts company devoted to the tradition of stepping. Originally an exchange program with the Soweto Dance Theatre of Johannesburg, StepAfrika! has grown into an organization with a presence on Broadway, an international footprint, and a level of community engagement able to reach students from pre-school to high school. With almost three decades worth of history and a dedicated group of 14 full time dancers StepAfrika! is sure to step up to the plate in Miami!


Learn more about Step Afrika! and get your tickets for their performance on Friday, March 10th, 2023 at The Moss Center.



Article Sources: 

..::BlackOut - Tufts University All-Male Step Team::.. - powered by ASO -

Stepping | performance | Britannica

Stepping has roots in Africa: Roots of stepping | The Collegian (kstatecollegian.com)