The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

Step Afrika! captivates audience with electric stepping performance

The+company+visited+Washington+and+Lee+on+Jan.+24+and+inspired+guests+to+dance+and+clap+along.+Audience+interaction+was+central+to+the+show+as+performers+encouraged+the+400+guests+in+Keller+Theatre+to+clap+along+with+the+beat.
The company visited Washington and Lee on Jan. 24 and inspired guests to dance and clap along. Audience interaction was central to the show as performers encouraged the 400 guests in Keller Theatre to clap along with the beat.
Since the early 1900s, stepping has provided an outlet for members of historically Black Greek organizations, often referred to as the Divine Nine, to show pride for their fraternities and sororities and build community. Step Afrika! celebrated this pride on stage as they had their step “sisters” and “brothers” face off in a dance battle.

 

Claps and stomps echoed through the Lenfest Center for the Arts on Jan. 24 as the dancers of Step Afrika! rocked the stage with a high-energy performance. Step Afrika! was founded in 1994 and is the first professional dance company dedicated to the tradition of stepping.

 

The Step Afrika! dancers took audience members to South Africa with their “Gumboot Dance” routine. The style dates back more than a century to when migrant mine workers created a tapping code to communicate with one another. Different numbers of taps and smacks on the sides of their rubber work boots signified different words and phrases, and the sounds slowly evolved into their own form of dance.

 

Stepping, rooted in the histories of historically African American sororities and fraternities, is a percussive dance form in which footsteps, claps, snaps and spoken word combine to form complex rhythms. No music played over the speakers as the dancers took the stage – they made their own beats to move to.

 

In some routines, the dancers of Step Afrika blended the stepping style born in Divine Nine fraternities and sororities with traditional African dance. In these pieces, they included drums and whistles to make their already catchy rhythms even more complex.
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Emma Malinak, Managing Editor

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