Step Afrika! continues the celebration of its 25th anniversary with an expansive national tour highlighting its newly commissioned work, Drumfolk. The piece, based on historical events that took place during the 1700s in the Deep South, debuts in selected arts centers and college campuses from January through November 2020.
“Drumfolk is the second work by Step Afrika! that celebrates and chronicles the African American experience in America,” shared C. Brian Williams, founder and executive director. “This new production is grounded in extensive research and more than 25 years of Step Afrika!’s percussive practice and investigation into the tradition of stepping. We’re thrilled to be sharing it with our audiences.”
Drumfolk is inspired by the Stono Rebellion of 1739, an uprising of 20 enslaved Africans from Angola who used their drums to start a revolt in South Carolina. Although the rebellion was suppressed, this little-known event in American history forever changed African American life and culture. When Africans lost the right to use their drums through The Negro Act of 1740, they began to use their bodies as percussive instruments in response. This act of survival and activism earned them the name of “Drumfolk.” Step Afrika!’s Drumfolk explores this pivotal moment in history and honors the succeeding cultural evolution.
Drumfolk takes audiences on a journey from the 17th century, when the African drum found itself in the then-colony of South Carolina, to present-day America where the instrument has shaped new art forms like hip hop and African American social dance. Highlights include: Step Afrika!’s first presentation of dance and drumming traditions from Angola; an exploration of the ring shout, a 200-plus-year-old African American dance rarely seen on our country’s stages; and a contemporary routine of stepping and vocal percussion.
Drumfolk makes its stop in Delaware March 29 – April 5, 2020 at the Delaware Art Museum with a performance at The Grand Opera House April 3. Step Afrika!’s residency in each venue will include feature-length performances for the general public as well as student matinees, master classes, and workshops. For more information, visit www.stepafrika.org.
About Step Afrika!
Founded in 1994 by C. Brian Williams, Step Afrika! is the world’s first professional company dedicated to the tradition of stepping—a dance form that uses the body as an instrument.
With 14 full-time dancers, Step Afrika! is one of the top 10 U.S. African American dance companies. The Company reaches thousands each year through a 50-city tour of American colleges and theaters and performs globally as an official U.S. Cultural Ambassador.
About the Delaware Art Museum
For more than 100 years, the Museum has served as a primary arts and cultural institution in Delaware. It is alive with experiences, discoveries, and activities to connect people with art and with each other. Originally created in 1912 to honor the renowned illustrator and Wilmington-native, Howard Pyle, the Museum’s collection has grown to over 12,000 works of art in its building and sculpture garden. Also recognized for British Pre-Raphaelite art, the Museum is home to the largest and most important Pre-Raphaelite collection outside of the United Kingdom and a growing collection of significant contemporary art. Visit delart.org to for the latest exhibitions, programs, and performances or connect with us via social media.