One more program has been added to the current OPAS season. When OPAS officials announced the 2016-17 season, they forewarned Aggieland arts patrons to “Expect the Unexpected!” Before “Once – The Musical” closes the 44th season on April 11 and 12, OPAS will present the international sensation Step Afrika! on Tuesday, March 28, at 7:30pm in Rudder Auditorium.
“This troupe packs more energy into a performance than anything I’ve seen in a very long time! You can’t help but join in. And that’s highly encouraged,” says OPAS Executive Director Anne Black. “In addition to the public performance, we will also be working with university classes, fraternities and sororities on a variety of residency activities.”
Step Afrika! is the first professional dance Company in the world dedicated to the tradition of stepping. The Company began in 1994 as an exchange program with the Soweto Dance Theatre of Johannesburg, South Africa and has expanded to become an international touring Company presenting performance, residencies and workshops worldwide.
Today, the Company continues to promote an appreciation for stepping as a contemporary dance genre and its use as an educational, motivational and healthy tool for young people. Step Afrika! accomplishes this mission through arts education activities, international cultural exchange programs and performances. The troupe believes that the values of teamwork, discipline, and commitment are essential to success in stepping and throughout life. They structure performances and educational programs to connect intimately with our audiences and create a positive influence on students’ lives.
The troupe’s program on March 28 features these works:
Tribute – Choreographed by Jakari Sherman – Tribute pays homage to the African American step show. Based on steps and styles seen in step shows across the U.S., Tribute expands on stepping’s roots by increasing the length of the step from the traditional 2 minutes to 10 minutes. It combines the distinct stepping styles from different fraternities and sororities and blends them together to showcase the incredible variety of stepping. Tribute includes all the exciting elements found in the step show–the use of props, ripples and floor work, creative formations and audience participation.
Ndlamu – Choreographed by Jackie Semela – Ndlamu is a traditional dance of the Zulu people. For more than 20 years, Step Afrika! has studied the dance form through the Company’s long-standing partnership with the Soweto Dance Theater of Johannesburg, South Africa.
Isicathulo – Choreographed by Jackie Semela – Isicathulo or “the gumboot dance” is a tradition created by South African workers who labored in the oppressive mining industry of then-apartheid South Africa. Isolated from their families for long periods, the miners transformed their rubber boots into percussive instruments to not only entertain but to share secret messages with each other. Isicathulo is one of the most popular dance forms in South Africa and contains striking similarities to the African-American tradition of stepping.
Solo – Choreographed by Christopher Brient
Chicago – Choreographed by Jakari Sherman – Chicago finds the rhythm in everyday situations. It is a percussive symphony using body percussion and up to 5 complex polyrhythms performed simultaneously in order to narrate a percussive dance “story.” Inspired by a summer spent in the Windy City, this ground-breaking work transforms the 100-year old, folkloric tradition of stepping into contemporary performance art.
Over the past 19 years, Step Afrika! has grown to become one of the top 10 African American Dance Companies in the U.S. and the largest African American led arts organization in Washington, D.C. Each year, the Company performs in 10 countries for more than 50,000 people and touches 23,000 youth through its arts education programs.
Step Afrika! gets people moving – towards college, towards a greater appreciation for the arts, and towards a better understanding of each other.
Texas A&M University students receive two free tickets, with a valid student identification, at the MSC Box Office. All other tickets are $10 and are on sale now at the MSC Box Office (979) 845-1234 and online at www.MSCOPAS.org.