Step Afrika! travels back in time to explore the origins of African American dance forms
Performance Runs from February 28-March 15, 2020!
Step Afrika! returns to New Victory with its newest production, Drumfolk, based on historical events that took place during the 1700s in the Deep South. Building upon the success of The Migration: Reflections on Jacob Lawrence (New Victory 2017), Step Afrika! takes audiences on a journey from the 18th century to present-day America, where body percussion has shaped such modern art forms as hip hop and African American social dance, among others.
Drumfolk explores this transformative movement in American history and honors the survival and evolution of a cultural ethos through rhythm, music and dance. Highlights include: Step Afrika!’s first presentation of dance and drumming traditions from Angola; an exploration of the ring shout, which is an African American dance over 200 years old, rarely seen on our country’s stages; and a contemporary routine of stepping and vocal percussion.
A seminal addition to Step Afrika!’s dance canon, Drumfolk is inspired by the Stono Rebellion of 1739, an uprising of 20 enslaved Africans from Angola who used their drums to start a revolt in South Carolina. Though quickly suppressed, this little-known event sparked the Negro Act of 1740, which prohibited, among many other rights, the Africans’ use of drums. In response, African Americans began to use their bodies as percussive instruments and this act of resistance, resilience and reclamation gave rise to some of the country’s most distinctive movement-based art forms, including stepping, tap, hambone and the ring shout.
“Drumfolk chronicles and celebrates the African American experience in America,” shares C. Brian Williams, Founder and Executive Director of Step Afrika!. “This new production is grounded in an extensive investigation into the tradition of stepping and over 25 years of Step Afrika!’s percussive practice. We’re thrilled to be sharing this history and artistry with our audiences.”
Learn more about Drumfolk at NewVictory.org.