Step Afrika! stops by Lied Center for education and fun

The second performance of the season at the Lied features performers telling a story that's hundreds of years old.

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – The Lied Center’s 2021/2022 season continues on Friday with Step Afrika! and their new performance, “Drumfolk”. The show is fast-paced and fun, and you might just learn something from it.

It’s all based on the art of stepping. As performer Ayana Ogunsunlade explains it, “Stepping is a polyrhythmic, percussive form of dance that actually uses the body as its instrument. So in addition to being unique in that way, Step Afrika! is also one of the only dance companies that integrates an arts education curriculum into its framework.”

That education is accomplished in two ways. First, the performers spend time visiting schools wherever they go on tour, teaching students some steps and a little history. Second, there’s a good chance you’ll pick up a few things during their performance about elements of African American culture that gave rise to stepping.

“‘Drumfolk’ helps to tie in all those dots and really helps open people’s eyes up to how stepping came about”, says dancer Pelham Warner. He continues: “Tapping, hamboning, the ring shout, a lot of different traditional African American styles formed here in America after we were striped of our drums.”

That stripping of drums Warner is referring to is the aftermath of the 1700s Stono Rebellion. Lawmakers took the drums, a form of communication, away from slaves. The slaves, undeterred, used their own bodies in place of drums. Fast forward a few hundred years, and you get stepping in its current form.

The entertainment and education aspects of the show go hand in hand, says performer Dionne Eleby. “You can expect to be educated, you can expect to leave the theater not only wanting to know more about the Drumfolk, but also looking into your own history and your own heritage, especially the Black history of Lincoln, Nebraska.”

Tickets are still available, and this performance will also be live-streamed if you want to enjoy it from your own home.

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