Penn State College of Arts and Architecture
Center for the Performing Arts at Penn State

Event Slides Per Node 1415

Step Afrika!

7:30 pm Friday, January 31, 2020

Step Afrika!, the first professional company dedicated to the tradition of stepping, blends percussive dance styles practiced by historically African-American fraternities and sororities, African traditional dance, and influences from various other dance and art forms.

The Washington, D.C., troupe, which will perform the world premiere of Drumfolk at Penn State, integrates songs, storytelling, humor, and audience participation into its productions. Drumfolk is an exploration of the drum as an instrument of community, resilience, and determination. The Negro Act of 1740, a reaction to the Stono Rebellion of 1739 in South Carolina, took away from enslaved Africans the rights to assemble, read, and use drums. In response, they internalized the rhythm of the drum and began to use their bodies as percussive instruments.

Drumfolk will feature Step Afrika!’s first presentation of traditional masked dances from West Africa; a choreographic investigation of the ring shout, a 200-plus-year-old African-American percussive dance rarely seen on American stages; and a contemporary work exploring the ways the drum was reclaimed through mediums such as stepping and vocal percussion.

After the performance, dancers will engage in a discussion with audience members.

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Adult $42
University Park Student $15
18 and Younger $32

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support provided by
McQuaide Blasko Endowment

Sandra Zaremba and Richard Brown provide support for engagement programming related to this performance. Susan and Lewis Steinberg also provide support for one of the engagement events.

New England Foundation for the Arts logo

The presentation of Step Afrika! was made possible by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project, with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Step Afrika! is a presentation of the Reflection Project, a multi-year initiative funded in part by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

This event is part of a season-long focus, The American Experience: Through an African-American Lens.

Artist Websites: 

Secondary Events on Each Event

Evening Exchange with Penn State Dance Groups

7:00 pm Tuesday, January 28, 2020

100 Thomas Building
Corner of Shortlidge and Pollock roads, University Park

Free and open to the public

This showcase will feature members of Step Afrika! plus a variety of Penn State dance clubs and organizations, including Nritya, Caliente Dance Company, Dark Storm, AKAs, Zetas, and Alphas. MCs will include Hope Faulk, Amy Dupain Vashaw, Haniel Tracey, and Jamihl Braimah.

Stepping Workshop with C. Brian Williams

7:00 pm Thursday, January 30, 2020

State College Municipal Building Community Room
243 S. Allen St., State College

Free and open to the public

A partnership with the Borough of State College

The founder and executive director of Step Afrika! will explore the meaning behind stepping and the development of the art form. Members of Step Afrika! will also lead a beginner demonstration and workshop.

Artistic Viewpoints

6:30 pm Friday, January 31, 2020

Eisenhower Auditorium

Artistic Viewpoints, an informal moderated discussion featuring C. Brian Williams, Step Afrika! founder and executive director, is offered one hour before the performance and is free for ticket holders. Artistic Viewpoints regularly fills to capacity, so seating is available on a first-arrival basis.