Stepping, history at DUC

Dedra McDowell

Next week Western will experience a unique blend of high-energy stepping and history.

Step Afrika!, a percussive dance troupe, will perform Tuesday night at 7 p.m. in the Downing University Center theater.

The company’s tour began Aug. 18. Western will be its second stop in Kentucky before moving on to Texas and Washington.

The dance ensemble, which was established in 1996 and is based in Washington, D.C., is a product of the members’ annual trips to the Step Afrika! International Cultural Festival held in Soweto, South Africa, according to the troupe’s Web site.

“Step Afrika! has three main goals,” said C. Brian Williams, the company’s director. “To share the tradition of stepping, to promote and preserve the history of stepping, and to use stepping as a educational tool and motivation for young children.”

Step Afrika! incorporates the African-American fraternity and sorority art form of stepping with traditional tap, modern, hip-hop and south African dance. It’s all in an effort to “unite communities of the world through dialogue and stepping,” Williams said.

The company usually travels with six members and has performed across college campuses and the world, including Africa and Europe.

“We saw them at a NACA (National Association for Campus Activities) national convention, and they basically amazed and awed the crowd,” said Azuredee Garland, a Campus Activity Board assistant.

That prompted CAB members to contact the company in hopes of bringing them to Western. CAB was almost unable to book Step Afrika! because of the high demand for the performers.

CAB expects the show to draw a large crowd because of the popularity of Western’s step shows.

“They teach the history of stepping,” Garland said. “Those who don’t know the history will learn from it and be entertained.”

Reach Dedra McDowell at [email protected]