Part 1: The Genesis
It began with singing. Brothers would gather in the quad and sing. They eventually graduated to dancing and from there stepping. You can go to some yards down south and they call it a "Sing" instead of a "Step-show". The white fraternities started the singing part, but the black fraternities took it to another level (Much like we did with basketball and football). I don't think that any one fraternity can lay claim to stepping, more than likely it evolved. One thing I do know was that the Omegas and the Sigma's were the first to do it. Sororities didn't start stepping until several years after the fraternities.
Part 2: The Evolution
Stepping began with groups of guys singing a-cappella, and when groups like the Temptations and the Four Tops were popular in the 50's and 60's brothers started mimicking their steps. This was how stepping evolved. This is why it is called "Stepping" now. Brothers would try to come up with the best steps while they were singing to please the ladies. If you got the ladies you got more recruits. Much like it is today.
Others say that stepping replaced the doo woop sounds and cardigan sweaters of the 50's. At around the same time as the "Black Power" Movements and Africa centered movements of the 60's, stepping started to flourish with the incorporation of some traditional African ritual dancing and the incorporation of other elements like cheer leading, tap, gymnastics, etc. Over the years stepping has become very intricate and demanding incorporating props, high levels of gymnastics and other elements found in team sports. Please note that some people want to give the credit to the South African Boot Dance, but it would be unfair to ignore everything that stepping was in the beginning and it is now.
Part 3: Sigma Stepping
Phi Beta Sigma stepping evolved even more with the contributions of Bro. Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana. He introduced certain steps from his traditional African culture, which used dance as a celebration of "coming of age". The coming of age ceremonies, or rites of passage, is when a young man comes into manhood. This is intimately tied to the pledge process, which is itself Masonic & Afro-centric in origin and method. The cane was used by Bro. Nkrumah in his stepping ritual. Stepping is supposed to be done as a celebration of "crossing", or "going over", or "coming into manhood". From this brothers began to create and build. Over the years Sigma's have been known for numerous unique and identifiable steps. A few of the most popular steps are:
The Sigma "Nut-Cracker"
"The Passage" s.k.a. "The African Step"
"The Bad step"
"Hands and Feet"
"The Cotton Club"
"Up Jumped the Devil"
"The Blind Fold Step" (With or without a cane)
The Nut-Cracker is the most common and well known. The original Nut-Cracker originated in the late 70's. Any Sigma Chapter can lay claim to it in some form or fashion.
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