The Kennedy Center

StepAfrika!



Biography

StepAfrika! is the first professional company in the world dedicated to the tradition of stepping. Founded in December 1994, the company is critically-acclaimed for its efforts to promote an understanding of and appreciation for stepping and the dance tradition's use as an educational tool for young people worldwide. StepAfrika reaches tens of thousands of Americans each year and has performed on many stages in North & South America, Europe, Africa and the Caribbean. Based in Washington, DC, StepAfrika serves as a cultural ambassador for the United States, representing the nation at events around the world through special invitations from American embassies.

Stepping is a unique dance tradition created by African American college students. In stepping, the body is used as an instrument to create intricate rhythms and sounds through a combination of footsteps, claps and spoken word. The tradition grew out of the song and dance rituals practiced by historically African American fraternities and sororities in the early 1900s. Stepping comes from a long and rich tradition in African-based communities that use movement, words and sounds to communicate allegiance to a group.

Though stepping is traditionally aligned with college fraternities, the art form is universal and highly appealing to young people. Today, stepping can be found in high, middle and elementary schools across the US as well as in churches and community-based organizations. The form is also spreading its wings to new venues and participants, such as Latino and Asian American Greek-letter organizations.

StepAfrika completes an annual 50-city tour of American colleges and universities from Maine to Mississippi. The company is a model for the use of stepping in educational settings, espousing themes such as teamwork, academic achievement and cross-cultural understanding. StepAfrika frequently conducts residencies, master classes and in-school performances for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Washington Performing Arts Society, the Smithsonian Institution and in schools and community-based organizations around the world.

Stepping is without question a rising art form and an important part of America’s artistic and cultural heritage. As stated by historian Jacqui Malone and author of “Steppin’ on the Blues”, stepping is “one of the most exciting dance forms to evolve in the twentieth century.”

Watch Past Performances

Video 8/21/2017: New Frontiers: Back to School Youth Rally

In observance of the Great American Eclipse, our nation’s first full solar eclipse in decades, the New Frontiers: Back to School Youth Rally will feature ‘stellar” youth performances by StepAfrika, Split this Rock, Washington Performing Arts’ Children of the Gospel, and The Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Washington, accompanied by the NEWorks House Band.

Make the Kennedy Center your solar eclipse destination! Come early to experience the eclipse at the Kennedy Center, and then join us for free interactive space and eclipse themed workshops led by Boys and Girls Club from 4-5:30 pm in the Grand Foyer and on the River Terrace.

Presented in collaboration with NEWorks Productions and the Mann Center for the Performing Arts (Philadelphia, PA)

Step Afrika!