We are currently experiencing problems with our ticketing system. Please proceed to our booking platform to purchase tickets.

Author: Clay Evans

Get loud and get moving with Step Afrika! at CU-Boulder Sept. 19

Dance troupe brings full theatrical performance of unique American form to Colorado for the first time

BOULDER, Colo. — Brian Williams has a request of anyone planning to attend Colorado’s first full dance concert by Step Afrika! at Macky Auditorium Sept. 19: Get loud and get moving.

“We love the ballet,” says Williams, who founded the first dance company dedicated to African American stepping 20 years ago, “but we aren’t the ballet. We don’t want you to sit and be quiet. We want you to make as much noise as you want, yell, scream, clap and holler. The more energy you have, the more energy we have.”

The group also will offer a free public workshop in stepping from 10 to 11:30 a.m. the day of the concert in the Charlotte York Irey Theatre on the CU-Boulder campus.

“We’re all about the relationship with the audience, so we really do want everyone to make music with us,” Williams says.

Step Afrika! fuses the unique, percussive tradition of stepping — in which multiple dancers use clapping, footwork, athletic maneuvers and calling out to create music and high-energy rhythmic dance — with strikingly similar traditions that developed independently in southern Africa.

Stepping traces its roots to campus marching bands, military drill teams and traditional religious call-and-response in African American churches. It came into its own as a ritual for fraternities and sororities at traditionally black colleges and universities in the early 20thcentury. The form was virtually unknown outside those communities until it was shown in Spike Lee’s 1988 musical film, “School Daze.”

“Stepping is a uniquely American art form that’s just now starting to get recognition as a serious dance style,” Williams says. He first learned how to step while a student at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

He founded Step Afrika! in 1994 after seeing South African workers performing “gumboot” dancing, a close cousin to stepping even though the two styles developed independently on opposite sides of the world.

“The idea was to use the arts to build bridges between different communities together,” he says. The company has performed thousands of times around the world with Appalachian cloggers, Irish step dancers, jazz musicians, symphonies and gospel choirs.

Step Afrika!

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 19

WHERE: Macky Auditorium, University of Colorado Boulder campus

TICKETS: $14 and up

FREE PUBLIC WORKSHOP: 10 to 11:30 a.m. Friday, Sept. 19, Charlotte York Irey Theatre, CU-Boulder

INFO: www.cupresents.org or 303-492-8008

Upcoming Events View all events

The Current

Apr 12-20, 2019

The Current

Dance works by faculty and guest artists
Starting at $18

Experience the dynamic works off CU Theatre & Dance Department's dance faculty and the Roser Guest Artist. From the micro-undulations of...

Boulder Laptop Orchestra (BLOrk)

Apr 20, 2019

Boulder Laptop Orchestra (BLOrk)

Songs of Space

Boldly going where no laptop orchestra has gone before, the Boulder Laptop Orchestra integrates technology with performers in an electro-acoustic ense...

Campus Orchestra

Apr 23, 2019

Campus Orchestra

Free concert

The Campus Orchestra, comprised of music and non-music majors, performs a wide range of repertoire from the baroque through contemporary periods in bo...