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

Event Slides Per Node 1415

  • Black dancers use their arms for balance as they kick their left feet up in unison.
  • Black performers sing, clap, and make music with percussive instruments.
  • A Black man holds a stick with both hands and does a high jump.
  • A Black woman waves her outstretched arms as she dances on a stage.
  • A row of Black dancers strike the same pose with arms outstretched diagonally.

Step Afrika!
The Migration: Reflections on Jacob Lawrence

10:00 am Thursday, November 14, 2024
60 minutes

The Step Afrika! production of The Migration: Reflections on Jacob Lawrence uses percussive-dance theatre to tell the history of The Great Migration, the decades-long movement beginning in World War I of more than six million Black Americans migrating from the rural South to the industrial North.

Pulsing, complex poly-rhythms using footsteps (stepping), clapping, and spoken word are a counterpoint to imagery and color motifs from the narrative sequence of paintings called The Migration Series by Jacob Lawrence.

Step Afrika! last performed on the Eisenhower Auditorium stage in 2020. The company tours in over fifty cites annually around the globe to educate, motivate and inspire young people on the power of the arts and its ability to instill core values of teamwork, commitment and discipline.

View The Phillips Collection‘s online resource featuring all sixty panels of painter Jacob Lawrence’s The Migration Series, and watch the video of his personal ties to The Great Migration.

Reserve by October 25, 2024.

Why not make it a full day?

Extend the learning experience with a visit to Palmer Museum of Art to see Jacob Lawrence‘s “Confrontation on the Bridge.” Email Brandi Breslin at bgb56@psu.edu for information about a docent-led or self-guided tour.


Artist Websites: 
Suggested Grades: 
All ages (meets upper school requirement for teaching The Great Migration)
Common Core State Standards: 
English Language Arts — Speaking and Listening
Comprehension and Collaboration
Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas; Literacy in History/Social Studies—Key Ideas and Details
Integration of Knowledge and Ideas
PA Academic Standards: 
Social and Emotional Development
Civics and Government
STEELS Standards
Arts and Humanities
Social Justice Standards: 
Learning for Justice: “What was The Great Migration”