Let KPK Introduce You To…Black Greek Fraternity/Sorority Stepping

Kaetrena Davis Kendrick, M.S.L.S.

University of South Carolina Lancaster

Choreography and costuming for: “Maximum”

Group: TVXQ

Album: Keep Your Head Down

Album Release Date: January 5, 2011

Press Play to watch a live performance of “Maximum” by TVXQ.

“Maximum” choreography and concepts echo the traditional stepping performances of …)

Fraternity: Alpha Phi Alpha (AΦA) (the oldest African-American/Black Greek Letter Organization).

Founded: December 4, 1906 at Cornell University

AΦA’s signature stepping choreography: “Train,’” including synchronized hand or arm movements evocative of ancient Egyptian culture.

AΦA’s common performance elements, particularly for neophyte (new member) debuts: militarized or stealth-like costuming and/or masks/face coverings and hoods.*

Press Play to watch AΦA members perform a “train” step sequence (timestamp 2:51).

Press Play to watch AΦA neophytes (new members) debut on their campus.

ELEMENTS OF NOTE:

Introduction of individual members with ultimate group performance

  • Performer entrance is intense with high drama
  • All-male performers
  • Presentation points are to manifest gravity and high levels of athleticism, endurance, and self-confidence
  • Train step (footwork)
  • Synchronized and staggered arm movements
  • Hoods and covered faces, use of black military-like/stealth-like costuming
  • Songs or chants center on challenging others and overcoming obstacles, male posturing is performed (see English interpretation of “Maximum” lyrics)
  • Call-and-response performance

TRADE OFFS:

  • AΦA’s Egyptian hand formations vs. TVXQ’s mostly neutral hands or closed fists (TVXQ’s choreography includes general index-finger pointing throughout and a quick Kung Fu salute at 4:21)
  • AΦA’s call-and-response limited to fraternity members vs. TVXQ’s call-and-response with fans (who are not TVXQ group members)
  • AΦA’s militarized costuming evokes Black Panther significance in African-American culture vs. TVXQ’s stealth costuming evokes history of martial arts reconnaissance and stealth in Asian culture.

*KPK recognizes that masks are also used in Kpop talent training to disguise the identity of company trainees (those who are “pre-debut”). We also note that masks are worn by Black Greek neophytes to protect their identity until they are finally revealed at their probate (debut) show.

Learn more about Alpha Phi Alpha.

What is stepping?

See also: SHINee echoing Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated; Rain/Bi echoing Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity.

Happy Watching!

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

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