I rushed Phi Kappa Theta in the spring of my freshman year and found my perfect match with Phi Kappa Theta Alpha Xi Chapter here at Duquesne University. After becoming a pledge brother, my life changed; I was constantly busy with balancing schoolwork, extra-curriculars, and my obligations with the brothers of PhiKap. It was difficult, especially with second semester being much different than the first. Transitioning into college is difficult first semester, but even more so in the second semester because of the month long break you are taking from your academics, not to mention the workload is much larger.
Nonetheless, I quickly found out about the many philanthropic events my fraternity does throughout the year. For those of you that are not in Greek Life or not familiar with the concept of Greek Week, it is a week-long event that takes place during the spring where all the fraternities and sororities compete against each other for the prize of winning Best Chapter on campus. All of the proceeds from each event and accumulative points won throughout the week all goes towards your philanthropy. Phi Kappa Theta works closely with the Children’s Miracle Network through our philanthropy work.
One of the biggest events during Greek Week is Greek Sing, which occurred on the last day: April 8, where each fraternity and sorority are paired together and put on a ten-minute show that includes singing and dancing in accordance with the theme. This year’s theme was Dancing Through the Decades. Our show was Pandora Radio Station: Summer Hits of the 2000s and included music from many different artists like Destiny’s Child, Ciara, LMFAO, Usher, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, and many more. During the first official meeting for Greek Sing to organize practices, the Social Chairs for my fraternity and the Social Chairs for Alpha Gamma Delta (the sorority we were paired with) asked if I could help out with some of the choreography for the show due to my background in competitive dance and theater. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to be on stage again and to teach once more, so I accepted.
During the first two classes of this World Literature course, we discussed the title of the class: Power, Performance, and World Literature. The words power and performance most closely relate to Greek Sing. As choreographer, I wielded power by directing others’ performance through the power of speech and action. The experience to teach and organize over 80 people that have little to no experience ever performing or being on stage was thrilling. While leading, I got the privilege to really get to know everyone and bring together the show and everyone into one big family.
In class, we’ve discussed the different types of power people have on others, such as emotionally or physically. For example, in the movie Real Women Have Curves about a first generation Mexican-American teenager, Ana on the verge of becoming a woman. Ana’s parents possess a lot of power on her decisions and her self-worth. Another example is when our class watched Beyoncé’s visual album, Lemonade, where she took the pain she was feeling and put it into power through the visual and her music. In addition, the roles of power can be seen in our reading of Purple Hibiscus, when Kambili’s father had the power over his family through emotional and psychological abuse, monetary power, and his village status.
Although my power was never used for evil like in Purple Hibiscus or Real Women Have Curves, I did have a lot of it. I controlled the dances that we did, the music we picked, the outfits we wore, the mix that we recorded, the singers we had, and the dancers that were picked out. My job was to put on the best possible performance on stage, something that I truly believe I accomplished.
The performance aspect of this class was represented through many texts such as Lemonade, Purple Hibiscus, and A Question of Power. Through Lemonade, we can see Beyoncé performing her songs with great emotion and attempting to show African American suffrage and history. In Purple Hibiscus, we see the performance of religion through Kambili’s father emotionally and physically abusing his family. A Question of Power shows us the performance of Dan and Sello emotionally on Elizabeth. I believe that these performances are important to note because just like these issues that had happened in these texts, happen today. Through our performance, we wanted to showcase empowerment and a show-stopping carefree attitude. Our performance on Greek Sing day is juxtaposing the heavy texts that we have been reading in class.
The music choice for this show was carefully picked out. From everything to the opening Destiny’s Child number that shouts “Can you keep up?” with our insane energy and dance moves, to the competitive nature of Ciara’s “One, Two Step.” The show continues into Gwen Stefani’s “Hollaback Girl,” an all female dance, in an attempt to respond to the catcalls that women get from men and letting them know it is not okay. The show progresses with a dance battle between the girls and guys, flipping the stereotypical “guy gets the girl” in OutKast’s Hey Ya!. I then have the guys dance to “Soulja Boy” after which follows Usher’s “OMG” for some integration of guys and girls once again, which then transitions into Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody.” The show then changesover into the synth-pop hit “Just Dance” by Lady Gaga in which we perform hand tutting. I then transition into “Boom Boom Pow” with a strong female singer solidifying our Summer Hits of the 2000’s theme with the lyrics “I’m so 3008 and you’re so 2000 and late.” I move into LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem,” which shows our carefree side before hitting the audience with Beyoncé’s powerful “***Flawless” that samples Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. This moment in our show is to empower women to be their own person. I then transition with Pitbull’s “Pause,” again showcasing the amount of fun we can have, before transitioning into the advertisement for Duquesne University, which then takes us to the final number: Rihanna’s “Bitch Better Have My Money;” a song that has been a staple in the music industry for changing the unfair treatment of women regarding money.
The power and performance that we talked about in class can directly correlate with the power and performance aspect of Greek Life’s Greek Sing. I believe that there are many aspects that can be explored with power and performance, some of which are institutionalized through our experiences, religious beliefs, and more.
I want to take this moment to thank all of my PhiKap brothers for constantly being there for me when I would ask them to do stunts or dance moves that weren’t really their style and all of the wonderful AGD girls. We all killed it and went out and put on the best show for everyone. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Check out the full performance here!