By ANGELA MAURONI
Step Afrika!, the first professional program dedicated to the art of stepping, visited Allegheny to participate in Black History Month. Invited by Gator Activities Programming (GAP) and The Association for the Advancement of Black Culture (ABC), Step Afrika! performed at Allegheny for the second time on Feb. 14, 2013.
Grace Beah, ‘14, is Chair of Black History Month for ABC, and was very excited to see them perform again.
“As a freshmen at Allegheny I saw them perform on campus, and it was extraordinary. They were energetic, charismatic and extremely talented,” said Beah.
The event started off with an introduction from GAP committee leaders Alexander Neal, ‘15, and Autumn Parker, ‘16.
“They were here two years ago and now they’re back for an electric performance,” announced Parker.
From the minute the seven performers came onto the stage, their energy was apparent. They stepped and joked tirelessly. They began with an introductory group dance and then split into teams of men versus women. The audience started becoming more involved as the dance-off went on and the volume of their cheers determined the winner.
After the women’s team won twice, narrowly beating the men on the second round, the group danced together again, and then called for volunteers from the audience to come up on stage. The volunteers worked through a basic dance on stage while the member teaching them continuously joked, keeping it comical. They got the audience involved as well by prompting them to keep beats with clapping. All but one male and one female volunteer returned to their seats as the remaining two were ushered backstage.
Two of the Step Afrika! members came onto stage with drums and played a slow rhythm that built up into a high energy beat, at which point a third member danced onto the stage dressed in traditional African attire. The rest of the members did the same and performed traditional African dances with high energy until the two volunteers who were taken backstage were brought back out in similar attire. The two volunteers had to mimic the traditional dance moves that the Step Afrika! members demonstrated.
After being crowned king and queen, the two volunteers finally returned to their seats.
Once the stage was cleared, a single member walked back on and explained the history of the boots he was wearing, which were used for communication between Africans who spoke different languages and worked together in the mines. The miners would slap the sides of the boots to communicate and eventually the rhythms they made led to them dancing during their breaks.
They proceeded to do a skit of workers and their supervisor doing this new style of dancing, which included a highly comical repartee between the characters.
Andrew Skelly, ‘17, was as impressed as Beah was two years ago.
“It was very cultured and interesting to see,” said Skelly. “I could tell they worked really hard to make it entertaining and comical, and I liked how they got the audience involved.”
The members all came together at the end to talk about the Step Afrika! program and share their website details. They performed together once more, this time keeping the audience highly involved by keeping them clapping to the beat and cheering when prompted to. They ended with introductions of each individual dancer. The members received a standing ovation at the close of the performance.