Stage Afrika!, a dance company dependent out of Washington, D.C., that emphasizes the artwork of stepping, will make its Owensboro debut at RiverPark Centre at 7 p.m. Monday.
The experienced dance company, which was founded in 1994, brings together percussive dance types that are practiced by historically African American fraternities and sororities throughout the United States, alongside with standard African dances these types of as Zulu, coupled with a selection of present-day dance variations and artwork varieties whilst integrating tracks, storytelling and humor.
“The performance that we are bringing to Kentucky (and) to the RiverPark Center definitely … introduces audiences to the art form of stepping, both as traditional and present-day models, and also the final results of our very first excursion to Africa in 1994,” stated C. Brian Williams, founder and govt producer of Stage Afrika! “Some of the dances that we execute in the show … include some of the dances that we discovered from that excursion from 28 a long time ago.”
The organization is designed up of 14 total-time dancers who are faculty graduates, with various of them that attended traditionally Black schools and universities (HBCU) and are users of historically Black Greek fraternities and sororities, who acquired their location as a result of a “highly-competitive” two-day audition process.
For Williams, doing arts was normally a section of his upbringing in Houston, Texas.
“I’ve often been a patron, an audience member, a supporter of the arts ever considering that I was incredibly younger. The arts have been a large part of my daily life,” Williams said.
Williams was launched to the art type of stepping when he enrolled at Howard University in the late 80s, eventually starting to be a member of the Beta chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., where by he realized how to action. But he was also finding extra thrilled about learning about the culture of in which stepping arrived from.
“That kind of started a incredible desire in the continent of Africa and really wanting to travel there, just as a result of distinctive lessons I took on campus,” Williams reported. “By the time I was graduating, and I was starting off to glance at what I would do put up-graduation, I really needed to head quickly to the continent of Africa and perform and just variety of investigate some of the cultures and traditions there.”
Williams graduated with a diploma in promoting from Howard University University of Business enterprise in 1990 and moved to the independent place of Lesotho, which is surrounded fully by South Africa, to live and educate for a year though also discovering his private pursuits.
“…When I very first figured out how to step, there was not a large amount of data out there in phrases of in which the artwork sort arrived from and how it actually even developed in African American communities,” Williams mentioned. “…There was not a good deal of specifics about where on the continent for which the art sort came (from).”
The Phase Afrika! Worldwide Cultural Festival debuted in December 1994 in Johannesburg as an exchange system with the Soweto Dance Theatre.
Williams attributes the time frame that he was absent from household helped him form what the exhibit has grow to be.
“It was interesting to be in South Africa in 1994 …,” Williams reported. “The country was rising from 50 (to) 60 yrs of apartheid … that generally divided Blacks and whites. …So, I’m dwelling there … before apartheid officially finishes as a kind of govt …. And I’m there … when Nelson Mandela is elected as president of the country. So, our general performance of Stage Afrika! pays tribute to Nelson Mandela as the to start with president of a democratic Republic of South Africa and it also celebrates the Zulu dance of South Africa, which is just one of the most powerful properly-recognized traditions. So, the audience will not just get African American artwork sorts, but South African art kinds that South Africans have been singing and training for around 28 several years.
“Anybody who loves African drumming and standard motion, this is heading to be a actually distinctive present.”
Because then, the team has toured to more than 60 nations around the world, have been showcased at the Smithsonian’s Nationwide Museum of African American History & Culture as the world’s initially stepping interactive show and at present ranked as one particular of the prime 10 African American dance companies in the place. The group has also executed on Broadway, making its debut of “The Migration: Reflections on Jacob Lawrence” in November 2017 at the New Victory Theater in New York Town.
The company has also done for President George W. Bush on the White Household grounds and experienced the prospect to showcase their talents in the East Wing for President Barack Obama in 2016 as element of his Black Historical past Month Reception, which Williams recalls fondly.
“It was remarkable to be in that dwelling, the people’s household, the American people’s house and to convey an African-American custom and share it with all cultures of the United States of The us,” Williams said. “… It was a terrific, surreal, excellent honor to do that.”
For Monday’s present, Williams desires the efficiency to be an knowledge for all to get pleasure from and be a part of.
“When Stage Afrika! enters the theater, we genuinely want to build a house the place anyone can make music and get pleasure from this percussive artwork form of stepping, as properly as these other additional standard African (stories),” Williams mentioned. “This is not a functionality that (it is) demanded for you to sit and just enjoy. We definitely want the viewers to experience free and make noise, to yell at the artists with any luck , fantastic factors and to help us make seem. When we phase on the phase, we are essentially attempting to flip that stage and that total theater into our drum and the audience helps us make songs.”
And he is psyched to have the exhibit be done in entrance of a crowd the moment once again.
“I’m so glad to be capable to arrive again to performing, getting back again into the theater and coming jointly all over again in areas as securely as we can,” Williams said. “This is a really special prospect. The American theater is a extremely wonderful, distinctive area and I simply cannot wait to get back in it ….”
Prosperous Jorn, government director of RiverPark Middle, said Move Afrika! will be a diverse but entertaining working experience.
“I’ve witnessed a show at a scheduling conference and it is an unquestionably wonderful show,” Jorn explained. “It’s some thing that’s never ever been in Owensboro that has by no means been in Owensboro prior to. It is totally lovely ….”