HBCU Delaware State University Wins ’23 National Step Championship In Harlem

April 29, 2023

More than 1,000 step and performing arts enthusiasts from 18 different states traveled to Harlem over the weekend to see the best in the country.

See them compete on the legendary Apollo Theater stage for the 2023 National high school and Collegiate Step championships. The all-female squad from one of the nation’s oldest historically black colleges (HBCU) in the country took home the top prize: “iSTEP” from Delaware State University (DSU) was crowned the 2023 National Collegiate Performing Arts (NCPA)TM National Step Champions. 

At the high school level, New York high school teams dominated the field, with “Queen Crusaders” of Monsignor Scanlan High School in the Bronx taking home 1st place, and Brentwood High School in Long Island taking 2nd in the 2023 National High School Performing Arts (NHSPA)TM Step Championships. 

Meet 2023 Collegiate Step Champions from Delaware State University: “iSTEP” 

iSTEP stands for “I Step Towards Exceptional Performance.” The all-women team celebrated its 10-year anniversary this year. This is a significant achievement for any team, and the team coach, Lindsey Hyppolite, deserves the credit for leading them to glory.


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Prior to winning the national step championship, they practiced their signature moves competing in other step competitions and homecoming showcases. DSU was one of three HBCUs in the competition, along with Howard and Lincoln.    

DSU won the top prize of $5,000 and 20% was donated to Graham Windham, a Harlem-based charter with a mission to make a life-altering difference with children, youth, and families. All teams in the top three won a cash prize, and the top five teams were awarded All-American status.  

“We’re celebrating 10 years of iStep and to just to be somewhere so monumental, so historical, and achieve the first-place title at the National Collegiate Performing Arts competition is an honor and a blessing,” said Lindsey Hyppolite, coach of iSTEP. “Our hard work in the last decade has not gone in vain!” 

Second place was awarded to Tufts “Envy” (a women’s team); they won $2,000 of which 20% was donated to six Harlem-based charities. Tufts “BlackOut” (all men’s team), and former reigning champion, took 3rd place this year, winning $1,000, with 20% donated to Eagle Academy for Young Men of Harlem and Mott Hall High School. Lincoln University and Howard University took 4th and 5th place respectively and were also awarded All-American status.  

Meet 2023 High School Step Champions: Monsignor Scanlan’s “Queen Crusaders” 

Monsignor Scanlan High School (all-women’s team) won the top prize of $1,500 and All-American status. This is an incredible achievement for these talented performers, whose hard work and dedication to their craft led them to the world-famous Apollo stage.  Queen Crusader’s stepper Taniyah Flores summed up the experience for the entire team. 

“They made us feel so welcome and comfortable…it was just a great experience!” 

All of the remaining high school teams were awarded cash prizes and the top three teams earned All-American honors, 2nd place, Brentwood High School, Long Island, 3rd Place, New Rochelle High School, and 4th Place, Nottingham High School (New Jersey).  

The competition was hosted by Emmy-winner Caridad De La Luz; the red carpet was hosted by radio and TV personality Dr. Bob Lee of WBLS.  

“I’d like to congratulate winners Delaware State University and Monsignor Scanlan High School, as well as all the incredible performers for bringing their ‘A game’ to the Apollo this weekend,” said Jessica “Remo” Saul, Executive Producer of the NCPA and NHSPA championships. “Their ongoing commitment to their craft, their alma maters, and each other play a significant role in keeping the treasured art form of step alive. The 2023 championships were a rousing success, with audience members and supporters alike raving about the talent and showmanship the performers brought to the legendary stage.” 

UpStaged is the parent company of the NCPA and NHSPA. According to UpStaged CEO Stephan Hartman, the 2024 competition will include additional college performing arts genres, including gospel, hip hop, and spoken word, as well as job fairs and more. 

“UpStaged loves Harlem, the vibe, the vibrant culture, the rich history, and eclectic diversity,” said Mr. Hartman. “For 2024, we are planning a much bigger event with a full four days of competitions, panels, and more. We think Harlem is the best place to host the 2024 championships, as it stimulated so much economic activity for the community, with audience members traveling to the event from 18 different states. Other cities have already reached out to us, offering support and infrastructure to make it an annual event in their city. Ultimately, the decision will depend on a range of factors, including local infrastructure and transportation options, overall costs, and logistics of hosting the event.”

 UpStaged Entertainment Group  

UpStaged Entertainment Group is an NYC-based diversified performing arts platform empowering the nation’s student performers to compete for national championships, like student-athletes, across 25 genres (e.g., step, comedy, a cappella) in premier venues and virtual platforms. Operating under National Collegiate Performing Arts (NCPA)™ and National High School Performing Arts (NHSPA)™ brands, UpStaged brings cohesiveness to historically siloed performing arts communities. To learn more about UpStaged visit https://www.upstagedu.com/   

National Collegiate Performing Arts (NCPA)™  

The NCPA organizes the nation’s dynamic student performers and their universities – like President Roosevelt’s goal in forming the NCAA in 1906 – to 1) Implement a comprehensive competition structure across performing arts genres 2) elevate collegiate performing arts to a national stage providing recognition like college athletes 3) financially support historically underfunded college performing arts.    

National High School Performing Arts (NHSPA)™  

The NHSPA organizes the nation’s dynamic student performers and their high schools – like President Roosevelt’s goal in forming the NCAA in 1906 – to 1) Implement a comprehensive competition structure across performing arts genres 2) elevate collegiate performing arts to a national stage providing recognition like college athletes 3) financially support historically underfunded high school performing arts.  

Photo credit: 1) NCPA Winners: Delaware State University team “iSTEP”. 2) 2023 NHSPA National Step Champions “Queen Crusaders,” Monsignor Scanlan High School.


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