Step Afrika! returns to Brooklyn
Apr 12, 2018 | 2409 views | 1 1 comments | 219 219 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Photo by Sekou Luke
Photo by Sekou Luke
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By Natalie Rios nrios@queensledger.com

Step Afrika! is making its triumphant return to the Brooklyn Center for Performing Arts this Spring. On April 28th, at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. the Step Afrika! performers will conclude the 2017-18 Kumble Theater season.

Founded in 1994 by C. Brian Williams, Step Afrika! is the first professional company in the world dedicated to the art of stepping. Stepping, or step dancing, is a form of African American percussive dance in which the participant's entire body is used as an instrument. With only their bodies, steppers produce complex rhythms and sounds through a mixture of footsteps, spoken word and hand claps.

Williams, the executive director of Step Afrika!, first learned to step as a member of his fraternity in 1989. After visiting Southern Africa, he began to research the many aspects of this fascinating, yet under-recognized American art form that is stepping.

Today, Williams has performed, lectured, and taught in Europe, South & Central America, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, the Caribbean, and throughout the United States.

Step Afrika! represents far more than simply stepping itself. Step Afrika! integrates songs, storytelling, humor, and audience participation during its performances. As an innovative arts education program, the goal is to foster teamwork, academic achievement, and cross-cultural understanding.

These public performances will be part of a three day Brooklyn residency that also includes educational shows for children. In reference to the upcoming show at the Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts, Williams said, "Brooklyn audiences bring out our absolute best."

“We plan to have a very good time on stage and in Brooklyn," Williams added.

The performance will also include an excerpt from The Migration: Reflections on Jacob Lawrence. This will be the company's latest dance-theater work inspired by the visual artist's groundbreaking "The Migration Series."

"The Migration Series" chronicles the stories of African-American migrants moving from the South to the North in the early 20th Century.

Over the past two decades, the company has grown to become one of the top 10 African American dance companies in the U.S.

This cultural sensation grew to be what it is today with the help of the Kennedy Center's education department, Washington Performing Arts Society's Concert-in-Schools Program, and the Arts for Every Student Program which helped develop the many Step Afrika! workshops available for grades K-12.

Step Afrika! has been recognized for its cultural achievements with several awards that include, the Mayor's Arts Awards for Outstanding Contribution to Arts Education (2005), Innovation in the Arts (2008), and Excellence in an Artistic Discipline (2012).

Most notably, the troupe performed at the White House for President Barack Obama and First Lady, Michelle Obama at the 2016 Presidential Black History Month Reception.

The company is also proudly featured at the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History & Culture with the world's first ever stepping interactive.

"It's exciting for me to watch the artists transfer the energy and excitement of Brooklyn into their performances,” said Williams. “The Company is thrilled to once again be a part of Brooklyn Center's season and perform in one of the greatest cities in the world.

Tickets for the public performances are $35 and can be purchased at BrooklynCenter.org or by calling the box office at 718-951-4500

Day-of-show tickets should be purchased at Kumble Theater on the downtown Brooklyn campus of LIU, located at 1 University Plaza, or by calling the Kumble Theater box office at 718-488-1624.
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Julie Watson
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April 13, 2018