Point of View

March 9, 2010, 5:54 pm
Filed under: Family Fun

Performers from Step Afrika! stepped their way into Miami-Dade County Public Schools as part of the Adrienne Arsht Center’s Beyond Boundaries Residency Program. This education initiative brings the finest local, national and internationally known teaching artists into Miami-Dade County Public School classrooms for multiple-day visits that provide an in-depth and multi-faceted exploration of the performing arts.  The Washington DC-based Step Afrika!, the first and only professional dance company dedicated to the preservation and promotion of stepping, was in 4 schools the week of March 2nd  introducing stepping and promoting higher education to more than 100 student of all ages. 

Stepping is a unique dance tradition created by African American college students in which 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 1900’s and comes from a long and rich tradition in African-based communities.

Students from Academy of Arts & Minds High School, Booker T. Washington High School, Southwood Middle School, and Holmes Elementary School were taught the basic claps, positions, and rhythms by dance professionals from Step Afrika! in master classes designed especially for students.   In addition, Southwood Middle culminated their week of workshops with an in-school lecture demonstration on Friday for 125 students that featured the 30 dance students who had participated in the master classes during the week.  

Photo by Deanna Costa.

Step Afrika! finished up their week in Miami with a free, standing-room-only performance at the Center’s Family Fest on Saturday, March 6th in the Knight Concert Hall.  Family Fest is a day of free performances and activities that provide parents opportunites to introduce kids to the arts.  Beginning at 11:30 am in the Thomson Plaza for the Arts, the outdoor activities featured performances by local entertainers, a make and take craft, face painting, and lots of fun. At 2 pm the crowds moved to the Knight Concert Hall to witness the 10 member Step Afrika! troupe rock the house with an electrifying performance that included audience participation and a special performance by students from Holmes Elementary.  After spending the week with 3 of the company members, students from Holmes opened the Step Afrika! show performing an original step piece that was choreographed by the students with the help of the Step Afrika! teaching artist.  The Step Afrika! performance was the culmination of a fabulous week of learning and dancing that brought together more than 2000 people for a stomping good time.

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