The Epsilon Chapter of Zeta Tau Alpha (University of Arkansas) is “stepping” its way into the national spotlight. The chapter’s step dance will be featured on MTV2’s new docu-series, “Sprite Step Off,” that premiered on Sunday, Jan. 31, at 3 p.m., Eastern time. The show, hosted by hip-hop star and actor Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, will follow six teams of fraternity and sorority members as they prepare for the Sprite Step Off, the world’s largest national step team competition.
Stepping is a form of dance that incorporates cheerleading, military, and drill-team moves into elaborate synchronized group routines. Step dance can be traced to African roots and has been made popular by National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) groups. ZTA’s Epsilon Chapter will be featured in the show along with teams from NPHC groups Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.; Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.; Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc.; Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.; and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Of the 90 teams participating throughout the competition, ZTA (a member of the National Panhellenic Conference or NPC) is the only non-NPHC group represented.
“Our chapter became involved in stepping about 15 years ago,” says Alexandra Kosmitis, step team participant and former Epsilon Chapter president. “The Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority at our school hosts an annual step show. They invite all sororities and fraternities to compete in it. We have been keeping up the tradition ever since.”
When Sprite Step Off hosted a qualifying round on the University of Arkansas campus October, 2009, the women used their step dance experience to join the competition. After winning, the chapter was approached a production team to participate in the “Sprite Step Off” show. After approval from ZTA National Officers, Epsilon Chapter began filming with an MTV crew in December.
“It has been very interesting to have camera crews follow us around, and it took us awhile to get accustomed to wearing microphones while practicing,” Alex says. “But we feel very grateful to have this opportunity.”
On Saturday, Jan. 30, Epsilon Chapter won both the Regional Semi-finals and Finals of the competition in Houston, Texas. On Feb. 20, the chapter, along with 11 other regional winners (six fraternities and six sororities) will meet in Atlanta to compete in the National Finals.
“Our step team is just so thrilled to be a part of this experience,” Alex says. “I believe it speaks volumes about our Greek community and diversity. We have a lot of support from our families, friends, and sisters. We just really want to win!”
With winning also comes many perks—one of which is scholarship opportunities. After winning the qualifying round, ZTA participants received a combined $5,500 to go toward their education. Placing in the Regional Semi-Final could provide $4,500 to $8,000 more in scholarship money, while a Regional Final placement would secure an additional $10,000 to $20,000. The first place team in the National Finals will receive $100,000.
To learn more about the Sprite Step Off competition, visit http://www.spritestepoff.com/home.
For more information on MTV’s six-part docu-series featuring Epsilon Chapter, go to http://www.mtv.com/shows/sprite_step_off/series.jhtml.
In photo on right: Hip-hop star, actor and “Sprite Step Off” host Chris “Ludacris” Bridges surprises Epsilon Chapter step team members at a recent practice.
In photos below: Epsilon Chapter members perform their "Matrix" step routine.