ETSU Buctainment welcomed Step Afrika, one of the top ten African American dance companies in the United States, to the Culp Auditorium on Wednesday, bringing an electrifying experience of dance, culture and entertainment to students.
Based in Washington D.C., Step Afrika is a company founded in 1994 dedicated to motivating, educating and performing in such a way that highlights cultural and artistic heritage.
The group focuses primarily on stepping, a form of percussive dance in which the body is used as an instrument through stomping, clapping, snapping and vocal song, creating sounds and rhythms just as any other instrument does.
“Step Afrika transforms the theater into a space where everyone can make music and dance,” said C. Brain Williams, founder and executive producer of Step Afrika.
During their performance on campus last week, ETSU students and faculty found themselves dancing and clapping along to the group’s one of a kind music.
Audience participation was strongly encouraged. Those in attendance were not only able to witness a great show but also had the opportunity to be in it.
In addition to shouting and applauding at all the right moments, selected volunteers were invited on stage and treated to a mini-lesson where they were taught some basic step moves.
Some volunteers were even offered a costume change and a chance to be on center stage so everyone could appreciate their newfound skills.
Energy in the audience remained exciting and upbeat throughout the performance. Energy on stage, too, was not only lively and cheerful but warm and affectionate, as members of Step Afrika embraced their audience with a message of love and togetherness.
“Step Afrika gets people moving – towards college, towards a greater appreciation for the arts and towards a better understanding of each other,” Williams said.
Dance styles represented in the show, by the seven participating performers, included fraternity and sorority stepping styles, South African Gumboot dance and Zulu dance and a change of suitable wardrobe was introduced for each one.
The event incorporated props, skits, drum solos and just a hint of mime. Utilizing their many talents of comedy, dancing, singing and acting, Step Afrika produced a show unlike any other.
Possibly the best part of the entire event, though, occurred near the end of the show when Step Afrika performers announced (to the delight of everyone in the audience) that all ETSU students in attendance are now eligible for the Step Afrika Scholar’s Program.
For more information on Step Afrika or their scholarship program, visit www.stepafrika.org.