Step Afrika!, the world’s first professional dance company dedicated to the dance tradition of stepping, makes its Auditorium Theatre debut. Blending stepping with traditional Southern African dances and an array of contemporary dance and art forms, Step Afrika! presents a cohesive, and compelling artistic experience complete with songs, storytelling, humor, and audience participation.
The program concludes with a piece titled Chicago, a percussive symphony using body percussion and up to 5 complex polyrhythms performed simultaneously to narrate a percussive dance “story.” Inspired by a summer spent in the Windy City.
The Auditorium Theatre is located at 50 E. Ida B. Wells Drive, Chicago.
The Story of Step Afrika!
Founded in 1994 by C. Brian Williams, Step Afrika! is the first professional company dedicated to the tradition of stepping—a polyrhythmic, percussive dance form that uses the body as an instrument. Under Mr. Williams’ leadership, stepping has evolved into one of America’s cultural exports, touring more than 50 countries across the globe. Step Afrika! is one of the top 10 African American dance companies in the world. Step Afrika! promotes stepping as a contemporary dance genre through critically acclaimed performances and arts education programs. Creatively engaging audiences in this nascent art form, the Company creates full-length productions that expand on stepping’s unique American history. Step Afrika! blends percussive dance styles practiced by historically African American fraternities and sororities; traditional West and Southern African dances; and an array of contemporary dance and art forms into a cohesive, compelling artistic experience.
Performances are much more than dance shows; they integrate songs, storytelling, humor and audience participation. The blend of technique, agility, and pure energy makes each performance unique and leaves the audience with their hearts pounding.The Company reaches tens of thousands of Americans each year through a 50-city tour of colleges and theatres and performs globally as Washington, DC’s one and only Cultural Ambassador. Step Afrika! has earned Mayor’s Arts Awards for Outstanding Contribution to Arts Education (2005); Innovation in the Arts (2008); and Excellence in an Artistic Discipline (2012); and performed at the White House for President Barack Obama and the First Lady. Critically Acclaimed works, such as The Migration: Reflections on Jacob Lawrenceand Drumfolk, tour to major U.S. cities. Step Afrika! is prominently featured at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History & Culture with an interactive exhibit on the art form of stepping. To learn more, visit www.stepafrika.org.
Biography of Founder and Executive Director C. Brian Williams, Founder and Executive Director of Step Afrika!,is a native of Houston, Texas and graduate of Howard University. He first learned to step as a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. -Beta Chapter, in the Spring of 1989. While living in Southern Africa, he began to research the percussive dance tradition of stepping, exploring the many sides of this exciting, yet under-recognized American art form and founded Step Afrika! in 1994. Williams has performed, lectured,and taught in Europe, Central and South America, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, the Caribbean and throughout the United States. He is a founder of the monumental Step Afrika! International Cultural Festival in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Through Williams’ leadership, stepping has evolved into one of America’s newest cultural exports and inspired the designation of Step Afrika! as Washington, DC’s official “Cultural Ambassador.” Williams has been cited as a “civic/community visionary” by NV Magazine, a “nation builder” by the National Black Caucus of State Legislators, and a “minority business leader” by the Washington Business Journal. He is the recipient of numerous Artist Fellowships; the Distinguished Arts Award from the Coalition for African-Americans in the Performing Arts;and the Pola Nirenska Award for Contemporary Achievement in Dance. He is also featured in Soulstepping, the first book to document the history of stepping. He also earned the 2008 Mayor’s Art Award for Innovation in the Arts and has led the company to multiple Metro DC Dance Awards for “Outstanding New Work”, “Excellence in Stage Design/Multimedia” and “Outstanding Group Performance.” In 2018, Williams received the Mayor’s Arts Award for Visionary Leadership from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities.
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