Founded in 1994 as the first professional company dedicated to the tradition of stepping, “Step Afrika!” delivered a high-energy performance Monday to the diverse crowd that filled Plachta Auditorium on Monday.
The performance was part of Central Michigan University’s Black History Month events, sponsored by the Program Board and the Multicultural Academic Student Association.
“Step shows are big across the United States, but we haven’t had one at CMU in a while,” said D’Wayne Jenkins, assistant director of MASS. “This performance shows the relevance that stepping still has, while also being entertaining and educational.”
“Step Afrika!” has performed throughout the U.S. and globally, including at the White House in Washington D.C. Members blend their percussive dance style, traditionally practiced by African-American fraternities and sororities, with influences from a variety of dance forms.
Their performance included songs, storytelling, humor and participation from the audience, inviting some students on stage to step with them.
One student invited on stage was Saginaw sophomore Brianna Haynes.
“I really enjoyed this performance and would definitely see it again,” she said. “It brings awareness to stepping and black Greek culture as well.”
In stepping, the human body is used to create intricate rhythms and sounds with footsteps, claps and spoken word. Students were enthusiastic at the performance, cheering loudly and clapping back to the performers.
“Step Afrika!” is used as an educational tool for young people, teaching teamwork, academic achievement and cross-cultural understanding.
Students said they were eager to see a performance like “Step Afrika!” again at CMU.
“It’s part of a culture people don’t get to see very often,” said Illinois senior Crystal Hutson. “Once you see it, it’s a completely different experience and it’s easy to explain and appreciate.”