Step Afrika! comes to Brooklyn

Members of Step Afrika! from Washington, DC.

Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts at Brooklyn College continues its 2015-16 season on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016 at 2 pm with Step Afrika! The dancers of Step Afrika! use their bodies as instruments, combining traditional step choreography with other styles including tap, modern, and hip hop to create an enthralling, high-energy performance.

Opening for the company will be the award-winning, Brooklyn-based step group Regime. As an art form, stepping is an important part of America’s artistic and cultural heritage. In stepping, the body is used as an instrument to create intricate rhythms and sounds through a combination of footsteps, claps and the spoken word. It is based on a long and rich tradition in African-based communities that uses movement, words and sounds to communicate allegiance to a group. It draws movements from African foot dances, such as Gumboot, originally conceived by miners in South Africa as an alternative to drumming, which was banned by authorities.

The stepping tradition in the United States grew out of song and dance rituals practiced by historically African American fraternities and sororities, beginning in the early 1900s. Today, stepping is not only practiced on college campuses; it can also be found in schools, churches, and community organizations around the country. The form is also spreading its wings to new venues and participants, such as Latino and Asian American Greek-letter organizations.

Founded in December 1994, Step Afrika! (C. Brian Williams, founder and executive director; Jakari Sherman, artistic director) is the first professional company in the world dedicated to the art of stepping, a unique art form originating in African American fraternities and based in rich African traditions. The company is celebrated worldwide for its efforts to promote an appreciation for stepping and the dance tradition’s use as an educational tool for young people. Step Afrika! reaches tens of thousands of Americans each year and has performed on many stages in North & South America, Europe, Asia, Africa and the Caribbean.

Based in Washington, DC, Step Afrika! is DC’s first and only cultural ambassador representing the city and nation at events around the world. The company completes an annual 50-city tour of colleges and theaters from Maine to Mississippi and is a national model for the use of stepping in education, espousing themes such as teamwork, academic achievement and cross-cultural understanding.

Step Afrika! is a frequent partner of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the Washington Performing Arts Society and has graced some of America’s most prestigious stages from the White House to New York City’s Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.

Step Afrika! is Washington DC’s first and only cultural ambassador representing the city and nation at events around the world.

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