On Wednesday, Feb. 13, the EUC here at UNCG came alive with music and dance through the incredible dance group, Step Afrika! Step Afrika! is a non-profit dance organization founded in 1994 dedicated to sharing the African-American tradition of “stepping.” The dance group tours internationally and hosts an annual workshop for people to learn how to step.
Step Afrika! performed a riveting show in the EUC auditorium last Wednesday, as the audience was incorporated throughout the entire display. From call and response to even inviting people on stage to dance with them, this event included each person in the audience and was as exciting as promised.
The show began with a stepping performance similar to what UNCG sororities and fraternities perform here on campus. This was followed by dancer Matthew Evans giving an introduction to what stepping is and where it derived from.
Evans goes on to state, “In the early 1900s, African Americans began to attend colleges and universities in large numbers. And in doing so, a need was created for us [African-Americans] to form our own organizations called fraternities and sororities. As a part of their daily activities, these students would sometimes gather on campus to sing songs, chants and perform basic movement in either a line or a circle. This could be considered the precursor for stepping.”
Evans goes on to explain that these public displays were performed to show love, pride, and respect for these organizations. But it was also done in the spirit of community, similar to traditional African tribal dances.
The performers then called on 10 audience members to join them on stage to learn the basics of stepping. This included a few of the basics, such as “Attention,” “Around the World Clap,” and how to call and respond with other steppers.
These audience members were then able to watch the next section of the routine on stage, as well as two members who danced with the performers as well.
This next section was a traditional African dance. Two of the dancers played the drums for the other dancers. It was an exciting, extremely fast-paced and non-stop mixture of solos, duets and dance battles between the performers. The routine connected stepping to the historical roots of African dancing.
The group closed with another step routine similar to the beginning of the performance.
Overall, this show was packed with exciting step routines, audience engagement, and traditional African dances.
This group not only shared the history of a dance that is very popular on this campus, but also promotes diversity by encouraging students to be more involved in the history of African-American culture.