STEP AFRIKA! Stomps Into SMDCAC
College fraternities and sororities, despite their stereotype as havens for youthful debauchery and mayhem, can actually become birthplaces of innovation and creativity. In the early 1990s, the art of stepping, created by African-American college students, swept across college campuses and started a dance movement that has found acceptance in churches and even the Kennedy Center. This weekend, the six-member Step Afrika!, a Washington, D.C.-based dance company that uses the art of stepping, opens at the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center and co-presented by Culture Shock Miami this Saturday, April 6 at 8:00 p.m. The art of stepping uses the body as a percussive instrument where rhythms and sounds, footsteps, claps and spoken word resonate and burst out of the body. It’s a synthesis of jazz, funk, rhythm-and-blues and rap all without using “real” instruments. “You use the tools on your physical body, clapping and stomping and vocals, to create music and dance,” says Nicolle Ugarriza, marketing and communications manager. “Groups are trying to out-do each other, similar to what you see in urban street dancing.” Step Afrika! has a reputation for creating super-dynamic, hyper-kinetic performances that speak to audiences and moves them to their feet. It also appeals to a broad range of people, including young kids, who are exposed to a wide variety of musical forms that they may not otherwise be exposed to — and all of this made with a stomp and a step. Since the MDCAC opened its doors, it has developed programming that appeals to a wider audience, especially families and children. According to Ugarriza, “by co-presenting with Culture Shock Miami, the center hopes to continue to attract the next generation of audience members to enjoy and support the arts. Offering a ticket at $5 to 13-22 year olds to an exciting and relevant performance, we hope to communicate that SMDCAC is a place of quality and affordable presentations.” In the spirit of bringing the community closer to the arts, the center will offer free dance classes for youth and adults starting at age 11 and up on Friday, April 5 at 5:00 p.m. “With every performance we bring to the center, we hope that people go away feeling inspired and moved by the artists that they saw as well as intellectually stimulated.” “Step Afrika!” takes the stage on Saturday, April 6 at 8:00 p.m. at SMDCAC, 10950 SW 211 Street, Cutler Bay; tickets cost $15-$10, $5 for 13-22 year olds; www.SMDCAC.org, (for youth) www.cultureshockmiami.com or 786-573-5300. For free classes space is limited; Carla Hill; 86-573-5319, CarlaH@miamidade.gov.