Step Afrika brings the beat with their feet

Step Afrika performed a Zulu dance featuring acrobatics and high kicks in DPAC on Tuesday, April 5.

Step Afrika performers created the rhythm for their dances using their shoes, feet and hands rather than instruments on Tuesday at 7:30 in DPAC.

The event was presented by the Center for Inclusive Excellence, Dance Team, Black Student Union, Arts and Ideas and SUAB.

Allie Carroll, SUAB events coordinator, spearheaded the event after she saw Step Afrika perform at a conference.

“They were so talented and unlike any other performer I had ever seen, and I knew they would reach a large group of students, even some that don’t typically come to SUAB’s events,” said Carroll.

After a competition-style dance-off between the men and women of Step Afrika, the group provided a historical background of their polyrhythmic dance form.

The group preformed a dance genre called step, which originated in African culture and was popularized by African American college students in fraternities and sororities.

The dancers explained that the mission of step is to uplift cultures and show love and community.

In their dances, the steppers would call out phrases like “brothers and sisters” and “I love my frat” which would correspond with a movement in the dance.

The performers called on the audience for participation by clapping and stomping along with them.

Fifteen audience members were called up on stage to learn to perform step.

One segment featured a Zulu dance often performed for weddings, deaths and celebrating harvests.

Dressed in traditional Zulu attire, the dancers performed while keeping beat with dum dum drums and a whistle.

Senior Fernando Rodriguez was onstage during a performance of the Zulu dance. Rodriguez tried to repeat the dance moves that the performers did.

“I loved the fact that it was interactive. You have to be open-minded and be able to have fun with it,” Rodriguez said.

He continued, “I feel like I looked like a fool, but it was all in good fun and it was all love. Everybody was having fun, so I loved it. I didn’t think I learned the dance moves! I felt like I tried, so what they do and the way they do it is a craft, it’s an art.”

The next dance was a South African gumboot dance which used the same concept of stepping, but incorporated slapping boots. In a comedic skit, the group demonstrated how mine workers used their boots to communicate with one another while working.

Freshman Miguel Arias said, “I really like the skit they did with the supervisor, it was really, really good. I’ve never seen something like that before.”

Seven out of Step Afrika’s 11 full-time world-traveling dancers performed at the event. When they are not traveling, the dancers spend their time at their head quarters in Washington D.C. rehearsing. They are also Washington D.C.’s cultural ambassadors.

Freshman Tanaja Jordan said, “I wish we had more stuff like this. I want Greek life on this campus so I can do stuff like that. I was thinking about starting a step team.”

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