Step Afrika! visits Oakland

SPB hosted Step Afrika! on Jan. 27 in the banquet rooms in the Oakland Center to perform for the students at Oakland University. Step Afrika! is the first worldwide company dedicated to promoting the tradition of stepping as a motivational, healthy tool for individuals.

Sarah Lawrence

On Jan. 27, the Student Program Board of Oakland University welcomed members of Step Afrika! to perform in the Banquet Rooms of the Oakland Center as one of the semester’s diversity events.

Step Afrika! is the first worldwide company dedicated to promoting the tradition of stepping as a motivational, healthy tool for individuals.

This tradition is an important element to America’s cultural and artistic heritage where participants use their bodies to create rhythms and sounds in a combination of spoken word, clapping and stomping.  Stepping includes various elements of tap, modern and hip-hop dance styles.

This organization began as an exchange program with the Soweto Dance Theater of Johannesburg, South Africa and has since expanded into an international phenomenon.

Since its beginnings in 1994, the organization has grown to become one of the top African American dance companies in the country.  The group offers various college scholarships and performs over 50,000 shows each year.

“I had been looking at events that were being held on other campuses, and when I came across Step Afrika! I was immediately drawn in,” Munjot Singh, Diversity Director for Student Program Board, said. “This was something I had never seen before and I wanted to find a way to bring it to OU, especially as part of African Celebration Month.”

The event opened with an introduction and history of the dance company and its involvement with Greek Life.  It then quickly transitioned into a string of unique dance numbers which explained various stories surrounded around African culture.

Members from Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. were included in the event as guest performers.

Throughout the show, three of the Step Afrika! performers brought audience members onstage to participate in the Step Afrika! Step Explosion activity. Each of the volunteers were taught a series of four basic stepping movements before performing the number in front of the audience.

Two of these volunteers were brought backstage for further instruction before being part of a larger number later in the show.

“I believe that the performance was a great addition to our campus environment,” Singh said. “Each performer did an awesome job interacting with the audience and created an amazing atmosphere. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I thought it was great that they worked together to teach members of the audience about the history of stepping, as well as having them perform on stage with them.”

At the conclusion of the show, members of dance crew were introduced before announcing that each person in attendance is now eligible for the Step Afrika! Scholars Program. This is a scholarship offered to 10 undergraduate students who attend a university that hosted a Step Afrika! performance in their most recent season.

For more information about how to apply for the Step Afrika! Scholars Program or for ways to become involved with the organization, visit stepafrika.org/arts-education/scholars-program/ or email [email protected]