FYIDC: Stepping Back Home

by Editorial

Step Afrika! returns to “Stomping Grounds” for home performance series.
By Tiffani Long

Step Afrika! celebrates stepping, an art form born at African American fraternities and based in African traditions. (photo Tony Powell)

Energetic, rhythmic, synchronized, riveting, and passionate. These are some of the words that describe the dance tradition of stepping.

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You may be familiar with stepping from movies such as, “School Daze” and “Stomp the Yard”, step shows hosted by historically African American fraternities and sororities, or your own personal experience. But, did you know you have a world renowned professional step company right in your own backyard?

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Step Afrika! is their name, stepping is their game, and they are based out of Washington, D.C. Founded in 1994, the company works to culturally educate and foster an appreciation of stepping.  They have performed around the nation in several cities and schools, toured around the world, and been featured by several news outlets and books.

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  Today, the company even serves as a cultural ambassador for the United States!

Although now world renowned, Step Afrika! has not forgotten its roots.  From June 15th through June 26th, the company returned to the District to marvel audiences on their home stage at the Atlas Performing Arts Center for a home performance series.  Tickets sold out quickly for performances as people flocked to take a step narrated journey through history in, “The Migration: Reflections on Jacob Lawrence”.

The series offered a dance interpretation of artist, Jacob Lawrence’s images reflecting the lives of African Americans during The Great Migration.  The performance began in an African setting, where performers provided an exhilarating drum call performance showcasing the significance of the drum and how it survived the transition with Africans as they were transported to America.  Following this, the performers stepped on through history to showcase the ups and downs of life for African Americans in the South and the musical and spiritual traditions that developed, such as the patting juba, hambone, ring shout, spirituals, tap dancing, and stepping.  Following this segment, the journey continued on to The Great Migration era, as performers were depicted leaving loved ones in the South on trains leading to a life of opportunities in the North.

Step Afrika! provided a high energy and interactive stepping performance that immersed their audience in culture and history.   The company has left their mark at home with this performance series and will step their way to Lebanon and London next.  For more information on the company and tour dates, visit http://www.stepafrika.org.

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