Alpha Phi Alpha takes second in Midwest step competition

Dan Murtaugh

Alpha Phi Alpha placed second in a regional step show competition Saturday in Indianapolis, keeping members of NU’s oldest historically black fraternity from its first appearance in a national competition.

The competition included about 150 other chapters from the Midwest and Canada. Northwestern’s Alpha Mu chapter was edged out by Central Missouri State University.

Fraternity member Michael Blake, coordinator-elect for For Members Only, also placed second in the Brother of the Year competition.

This year marked the first time NU’s chapter had reached the step show regional finals. They won a statewide competition in February.

Stepping is a form of synchronized dance. Team members – there were six in Alpha Phi’s performance – use their feet and hands to make a rhythmic sound to augment their dance.

Competition judges focused on four aspects of the stepping: originality, choreography, appearance and showmanship. Blake said the NU chapter blew everyone away in the originality category with a segment of their 15-minute performance dedicated to the 1980s cartoon “Voltron.”

“We had three brothers stepping, with three other brothers on their shoulders … and we had the Voltron theme music as a prelude to it,” said Blake, a Medill sophomore. “I don’t know who can get more original than that.”

Winners of the five regional competitions will compete in August at Alpha Phi’s national competition. NU’s chapter still has a chance to make the nationals – if Central Missouri State’s team can’t make the competition, NU’s team is next in line.

Blake said the NU members felt strongly that they were the best team at the competition, but for the sake of brotherhood they didn’t complain about the judging and congratulated the winning team.

Blake’s showing in the Brother of the Year competition was based on his fraternity involvement, academic achievements and extracurricular activities, which include treasurer of FMO and Associated Student Government senator.

Blake said the focus of the competition was brotherhood, and it was brought home for him when he bumped into Malcolm Waiters, a friend of his from elementary school who is now an Alpha Phi member at Miami University of Ohio.

“We were boys before this all started, and now we’re brothers on a deeper level,” Blake said.