Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Step Afrika! [Show Review]

Recently a colleague informed me of the upcoming local performance of Step Afrika!, a traveling troupe which celebrates the art for m of stepping. From the spelling of the name and from the picture on the front of the announcement I received, I wrongly assumed that Step Afrika! was a show put on by a traveling troupe of South Africans in the musical tradition of Ipi Ntombi, one of my personal favorites, and the stepping referred to was the South African gumboot dance.

However, I as I sat in the venue waiting for the program to begin, I learned, much to my chagrin, that the troupe featured only one native South African. The rest of the troupe came from colleges and universities around the country, namely Howard University in Washington, D.C.

And as the show began, I was even further disappointed. Though the opening sequence featured the most intricate, well-choreographed step routine I have ever witnessed, I did not want to spend my Sunday evening watching a ninety minute step show, so I looked around for the exit.

However, just as I was plotting my escape, the show switched gears, and for the next eighty minutes or so, the troupe led the audience on a virtual cavalcade of excitement, entertainment, and education.

Following the opening sequence which demonstrated stepping as performed by African American fraternities and sororities and provided an explanation to include a historical background in the form of a very entertaining sketch, the troupe masterfully and artfully linked that tradition to older traditions such as traditional African dance, the South African gumboot dance, and African American dance, before bringing it all full-circle with a spectacular step finale.

During the audience participation segments, I looked around at the mostly white audience in an attempt to gauge their reaction. And perhaps I should have been offended when one of a quartet of seemingly septuagenarian white ladies to my right clapped her hands together and exclaimed with glee at the very height of the performance, “This is just like negro river dancing!” I thought it was quite funny.

However, the show did not stop with the performance. Beginning on Monday, the troupe went into several local schools to work with the children as part of their arts-in-education outreach program, Stepping in Schools.

I thoroughly enjoyed the program as did my family. And if Step Afrika! is ever in your area, do yourself a favor and take in a show. You will be glad you did.


Denisha said...

Awesome video!! I love that they show the historical aspects of stepping as opposed to people thinking it's just black folks wearing Greek letters dancing. I've never seen them perform but I'll google to see if they have any shows near Chicago.

Alan said...

"Step Afrika! Brings It Home" Please read it at http://wp.me/pC3Xj-i8

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