NY’s Poet Laureate Kayden Hern Headline Step Championship At Harlem’s Apollo  

February 24, 2023

This Saturday, UpStaged Entertainment Group (UEG), is home of the National Collegiate Performing Arts (NCPA)™ and the National High School Performing Arts (NHSPA)™.

The Harlem School of the Arts (HSA), hosts a “Selection Saturday” NCPA and NHSPA Step Championship bracket announcements and celebratory events of spoken word, step, and hip-hop performances and celebrity panel. 

Newly named New York Poet Laureate Kayden Hern, a nine-year-old honor student born and raised in Harlem, will be delivering a spoken word performance. This invitation-only event serves as a culminating moment in Black History Month, with an afternoon recognizing the indigenous African art form of “Step,” combined with the honoring and celebrating of African American performers. 

Saturday’s events include a step class tutorial led by Step legend and Players Club Entertainment Founder Ed Nelson, a singing performance by Sarafina Belafonte, granddaughter of acclaimed actor-activist Harry Belafonte, and dance performances by HSA hip hop dancers and defending NCPA Step Champion Tufts Blackout. The celebrity performing artist panel, “From Harlem to Hollywood” features Nelson, Belafonte, and Tony and Grammy-nominated Broadway star Phillip Boykin. The panelists will discuss their journey to the stage (Broadway, Hollywood, and beyond), with the goal of inspiring the next generation of performing artists. 

The afternoon will conclude with the “Selection Saturday” unveiling of two “March Madness” type college and high school step team brackets matchups that feature the nation’s best student step teams and reveal the NCPA and NHSPA Step Championships venue and other exciting new developments.   

“By celebrating African American student performing arts history, culture, and excellence at HSA, the premiere Harlem student performing arts institution, we help elevate their voices and highlight their achievements,” said Victoria Duruh, UEG’s Chief Talent Officer. 

Harlem School of the Arts was recently renovated and has expanded the use of its modernized facility, making it one of the most unique venues in New York City.  


“HSA is thrilled to be hosting UpStaged’s Selection Saturday. This celebration of Black performing arts and artists will no doubt be a spirited display of joy and excellence for our students and community,” said James C. Horton, HSA President. 

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. 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 UEG https://www.upstagedu.com/ 

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

National High School Performing Arts (NHSPA)™ 

The National High School Performing Arts (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 comprehensive competition structure across performing arts genres 2) elevate collegiate performing arts to a national stage providing recognition similar to college athletes 3) financially support historically underfunded high school performing arts. 

Harlem School of the Arts, The Herb Alpert Center 

Harlem School of the Arts, The Herb Alpert Center (HSA) is a cultural institution uniquely positioned at the intersection of arts, education, and social justice. Founded in 1964, HSA offers world-class training in music, dance, theater, musical theater, and media & design to children ages 2-18, and encourages students to reach their full potential through interdisciplinary arts training that celebrates the rich complexity of the African American community.  To learn more about the Harlem School of the Arts, please visit www.HSAnyc.org

Photo credit: 2020 NCPA Step Champions, Tufts University Team “Blackout” celebrates their win at Lincoln Center.


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