Loud music and chanting leaked through the doors of Lamberton Hall as colorful lights illuminated the stage and audience members cheered in excitement for a series of dance performances.
Lehigh’s Cultural Greek Council organizations and community members had congregated for the annual Yard Show, which took place on Feb. 24 at 7 p.m.
The event is meant to honor the organization’s past traditions. The show included dances from members of Kappa Alpha Psi, Sigma Gamma Rho, Lambda Theta Alpha, Mu Sigma Upsilon and Phi Sigma Chi.
The performers wore uniforms showcasing the colors of each of their organizations, and each of their dances varied in pace. Some groups delivered fast dances with sharp movements, while others chose to perform pieces to slower rhythms.
Mariah Alvarado, ‘25, a member of Mu Sigma Upsilon, said the traditions they honored in the performances included stepping, saluting and strolling.
Alvarado said stepping is a rhythmic movement and intense dance, with meaning tracing back to African-based communities who used it to send messages and communicate allegiance.
Jennifer Ocampo-Castaneda, the president of the council, said during the dances they salute in different languages to show respect for different ethnicities.
Alvarado said she salutes to her sorority sisters in the audience and pays respect to their multicultural backgrounds by doing so in 22 different languages.
“Every time we perform at a Yard Show or any Greek event, we salute to the audience, but really we’re saluting our sisters or alumni to say thank you for everything you’ve done for us,” Alvarado said.
Strolling, which Alvarado said means “party walking,” is a dance performed in a synchronized line. She said it is less intense than stepping, where every movement has to be powerful and detailed.
Ocampo-Castaneda said the Yard Show allows people to understand what the council represents and offers students of color a different side of life they may not have known exists at Lehigh.
“Cultural Greeks don’t get enough recognition on campus,” Alvarado said. “This is one night for anybody from the student body to come and understand a little bit more about what we do.”
Despite each organization’s differences, Alvarado said it is a night to look around the room and recognize that the council is one family.
Ivery Marquez, ‘23, a member of Lambda Theta Alpha, said the Yard Show is not an event that occurs often or one that everyone knows about.
The most important thing, she said, is to bring as many new eyes to the event and experience traditions that are sacred to each organization.
During the preparation for the event, Lambda Theta Alpha alumni teach the current members different strolls as a way to honor their history in the Yard Show.
Marquez, who has been a member of Lambda Theta Alpha since her sophomore year, said she has performed in every Yard Show since joining.
Marquez said learning the dances each year has made her more confident. Now, as a senior, she said it’s nice to pass the baton down to younger members of her organization by teaching them these traditions.
In addition to using the time to teach, the organizations use practices and rehearsals as a bonding opportunity.
“Rehearsing does bring us closer together, and it also creates a space where we can really learn more about each other,” Ocampo-Castaneda said.
Practice schedules vary for each organization, but Ocampo-Castaneda said her sorority, Mu Sigma Upsilon, rehearses twice a week.
She said dances may come naturally and quicker to some members compared to others. Recognizing this helps them learn how to communicate with and support one another.
Despite the type of dance, Ocampo-Castaneda said members try to keep practices at a high energy level.
“It’s one of those things where you push yourself and it might not be comfortable if you’re not a natural dancer,” Marquez said. “But I get to feel more connected to my organization and proud of what I accomplished.”