Tag Archives: Drumfolk

It Has Come To End

Written by Jackie Dominguez

When I was picking my classes for Spring 2020 my advisor suggested that FAA 110 would be a fun class to take. However, what I didn’t know was that FAA 110 would become my favorite class I’ve ever taken in my college career. When the semester first started, I realized that class would be meeting on Wednesday mornings and also be meeting on the scheduled event days. When I found that out I wanted to drop the class because I thought it would interfere with my social life, I’m so grateful that I didn’t!

FAA 110 provided me so much more than free performances, I truly believe it gave me a new pair of eyes for art. I have never been the type of person to attend performances or visit museums during my free time and that is simply because I just never gave art the opportunity to be appreciated. This course allowed me to have a better insight on the amazing opportunities the University provides students with that are often not taken advantage of. I truly enjoyed this course because whenever I attended class and the events, it felt like academics wasn’t the one thing constantly on my mind but instead my own feelings. I’ll never forget when Professor Collins said this in class, “Your voice is important. Never allow your voice to be stifield…Not only in this class but in everything!” This really has stuck with me and will continue to, because no professors in my college career ever made me feel like my opinion truly mattered enough to make a change. I’m so glad that FAA 110 taught me about the beauty of art but also that there is power within myself.

I’ll never forget the first performance I attended, Shanghai Ballet. What a masterpiece, I never thought I would be able to appreciate a performance without any words being spoken. However, I learned that art doesn’t have to say much, you just have to allow art to speak to you. I’ll always remember this performance as the first performance that brought me to tears. I wish more people were able to see this performance through my  perspective. 

Step Afrika!: Drumfolk was the second performance I attended in the Krannert Art Performance Center. As a history major that specifically loves African American history I can honestly say, I wish this performance never ended. This performance tells the story of how African Americans were stripped away from their culture and have had to continue to fight for till this day. There were so many different elements that overall made the performance unforgettable!

The third performance I attended was Jonathan Swensen’s cello performance. I never thought I would have truly enjoyed a cello performance, but I also never thought it would bring me to tears. Jonathan Swensen’s performance allowed me to reflect on my thoughts and let all my little broken pieces in me feel like they were put back together just by simply listening.

The fourth performance that I attended was Micheal Barenboin and the West Eastern Divan Ensemble. I was fortunate enough to be seated in the front row, this allowed me to get a view that I felt like no one else in the room had. The orchestra players were unbelievably talented and anyone could tell that these performances have played their instruments their whole life. This performance was truly unforgettable.

Cabaret, a true masterpiece full of meticulous details that truly made the show shine! This musical not only made you feel like you could connect with the characters such as Sally, Clifford, Fraulein Schneider or even Herr Schultz but it made you feel like you were part of the show!

Virgo – Man Dem: While watching this performance, I must admit that I was a little lost. I didn’t quite understand why the dancers were making weird movements that didn’t go along with the music. I think that’s the beauty of art. Sometimes no one understands because it’s not always for the audience, sometimes it’s for the artist himself. What I learned through this performance is that I as an audience member would not be doing my job if I were to not make the effort to at least understand. Sometimes you’ve got to be able to listen to yourself and be okay with no one else understanding. 

Drum Tao: Out of all the performances I have gotten the opportunity to attend, Drum Tao is by far one of my favorite performances for multiple reasons. It was a performance that showed me that art has the ability to completely ease your mind away from your problems even if it’s just for a while.

The Container: This was the first and last performance I viewed through the online database. This production showed me how refugees seeking refuge have to endure. This really touched me because it made me think of the difficulties a lot of my family members had to go through in order to provide me and siblings a better life. 

FAA 110 provided me so much more that what I could’ve learned in a classroom. I promise to always to try to convince friends to take this course because it truly has been one of my favorite courses I have ever taken. I just want to thank Dr.Collins and Dr. Robinson for making the course so exciting and enjoyable!

The Final Blog: A Semester in Review

Written By: Zackarya Faci

Let me start off by saying this has been the most enjoyable course I have taken in all my four years here at the university. I was able to explore the arts and earn a new appreciation for them–something engineering students don’t often find themselves doing. I looked forward to coming to class, since we were always either doing a cool activity or taking an interesting tour, and spend my evenings in the Krannert Center. Sadly, we were not able to spend the entire semester together due to COVID-19, but I was still able to explore beautiful performances online through Digital Theatre+. Here’s a recap of the performances seen throughout the semester:

The Butterfly Lovers

The first performance we saw as a class was The Shanghai Ballet performing “The Butterfly Lovers” at the start of the Chinese New Year. I had never seen a ballet prior and was half-expecting to be bored by the event. However, that was definitely not the case. I was enamored by how well they were able to tell a story without ever saying a single word. The skillful movements and intentional lighting were enough to convey the exact emotions felt onstage.

Drumfolk

The next performance, by Step Afrika!, I enjoyed even more. They brought history to life with the their percussive talents. With a simple stage and intriguing costume design, it was easy to focus on what the performers wanted us to see.

Somi

Somi is a Jazz musician who performed some songs from her recent album. I never really listened to Jazz music before, so I am glad I attended this performance. Somi’s songs were so soothing yet powerful all at the same time. She also sang about some issues that were important to me.

Anna Deavere Smith

Seeing Smith perform was a bit of a curve ball to me. I was not sure what to expect when heading to this performance. It was not like any of the other performances we have seen; this was a one-woman show. She recreated interviews she conducted and did so with a lot of emotion. While being funny, yet serious, her impersonations of her interviewees sold the show.

Cabaret

The night of Unofficial the class attended Cabaret–which was very fitting. Cabaret was a comedic, scandalous musical set in 1930s Germany. Many scenes were risqué, but honestly it was refreshing to see a performance that was more adult-oriented. This was also the first performance I’ve seen that had subtitles above the stage–something I found very interesting.

The Merchant of Venice

The Merchant of Venice was the first performance I viewed online after in-person classes were postponed. It was a witty comedy that touched upon some serious topics. I read the play in high school so it was nice to revisit it and see how the performance compared to simply reading the play.

The Container

The Container was a very unique performance. Being performed in a shipping container with low light really set the mood for the entire performance. The choice to perform in a shipping container was ingenious, and I wish I could have been there to see it performed live. The story was already compelling and sincere as is, but being there in person would have been a whole new level of immersion.

Metamorphosis

The final performance I viewed this semester was Metamorphosis. This was definitely a wacky one. The movements by the performers were flamboyant and exaggerated–fitting with the peculiar story. The performance was also in Japanese, so I had to follow along with subtitles. Metamorphosis opened my mind to watch other forms of media that may not be in a language I understand.

Closing Thoughts

A sincere thank you goes out to Dr. Collins and Prof. Robinson. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from this class, but I took away more than I could have ever asked for. They always had so much energy and never failed to brighten up my day. They also helped us explore the arts in ways a typical class could never. Thank you for helping me explore performances I probably would have never seen on my own. Thank you for making my final semester a great one! 🙂

Step Africa! Rhythmical History of Resistance

By Aejin Shin.

I watched an African-American drumfolk performance ‘Step Africa!’ on February 7, 2020 at the Colwell Playhouse. Actually, I knew little about American history before watching this performance. I was born and educated in Korea and just a month has passed since I came to America. So, I just expected that this drumfolk performance would be a fun and interesting one.

People waiting for the beginning of the performance

However, the performance was quite different from what I had expected. Yes, the rhythm at the beginning was exciting and several performers danced like one body. Colorful choreography caught my eyes. They danced and sang to the beat, which made me feel like dancing and singing together in between. But the deep sense of struggle hidden in their jubilant rhythm was something I had not expected. I came back home and studied more about American history. Here’s what I’ve found.

Before starting the show

History behind ‘Step Africa!’

On September 1739, the largest slave revolt in U.S. history took place near the Stono River. The slaves left no clues as to why or how they revolted. The message of the rebellion is told only by  white men who subdued the slaves. However, you can also find interesting features on that record. The drumbeat played a very central role in the revolt. Plantation farm owners were afraid of the drumbeat even after the riot was quelled. So, they made a bill that would ban slaves from using drums in 1740. But the slaves did not give in to them. They made rhythms by using their bodies and continued the African spirit in their own way. My country, Korea, also has a tragic history of being forcibly occupied by Japan. Many were brutally sacrificed, but my forefathers sublimated their suffering to satire and humor in order not to lose the soul of the nation. Because we share a similar history, I could sympathize with the stories in the performance.

Explanations about the founders of the Colwell Playhouse

Impressive Points of the Performance

The performance recounted the events of 1739. The performers used their hands and feet to create rhythms and sang in loud voices. The most impressive thing was that they communicated with the audience and made it a part of the performance. They skillfully elicited a favorable response, and the audience was willing to be part of the performance. I’m not sure if they intended this point, but this seemed to overlap with the images of black slaves who joined the rebels through the drumming in 1739. Also, the most important significance of the performance is that it revealed the history of the U.S that has been overshadowed. We have not learned about many people who fought bravely against injustice. The performance reminds us of many people who fought for a free America in a smart way – through fun, exciting rhythms. I strongly recommend going to this concert!

A Standing Ovation to “Drumfolk”

On February 7, 2020 at 7:30pm, the Colwell Playhouse in the Kranner Center for the Performing Arts Presented a spectacular performance entitled “ Step Afrika ! : Drumfolk”. This performance brought about expression through body movements, stepping to be more specific, when drums were taken away from African Americans through a legislative law in America in 1740.

Written by Lydia Amezcua-Ramirez

A few minutes before the performance began, I noticed that my ticket matched the seats and thought “wow this would be a cool shot” along with the ominous background of a single spotlight.

History of the Drum

For African Americans, the drum symbolized community, resilience, and determination throughout history in America. When that instrument of theirs was banned, they decided to use their bodies as a means to produce another form of music to express their messages. In the performance, the dancers would chant “they took away our drums..but they could not stop the beat”, and would use their body movements to illustrate that. This showed the idea of freedom and resistance as soon as they began to chant that and continued to express themselves in other ways possible.

Dance as an instrument

The dancers would conduct movements with their bodies using heavy stepping, tapping, clapping, and more which brought the message across that they would not be defeated, showing defiance against the legislation and their determination to continue creating rhythm. The dances that were performed were strongly executed which to me proved the confidence that all dancers should have to deliver their performance well.

The Dancers using stepping as strong indicators of rhythmical music.

As shown in the picture above, the dancers use exaggerated arm and leg movements to showcase the severity and the magnitude of their message through dance. The dancers worked together to bring across a strong performance in each act, staying on cue with one another in terms of body movement and facial expression. This is an example of the dancers using their bodies as instruments because they were making sounds using different parts of their bodies.

A standing ovation from everyone in the audience. What a great feeling it must have been for the performers!

At the very end of the performance a sense of community was shown throughout the audience. Everyone from the audience gradually stood up to give the performers the standing ovation that they truly deserved for their amazing performance. Not only this, but throughout the performance the performers would ask one side of the audience to clap along with their hands and the other side of the audience would be asked to clap too, but in a distinct rhythm. A standing ovation from everyone was well deserved to the performers who claimed it was only their third time performing. This was a performance that everyone must see if they get the chance to because I know I got chills since the very beginning of it.

Step Africa! : Drumfolk, a Story About Freedom.

written by Zeying Lang

Flashing back to the story happened in 1739, and following the fantastic dance crew to unveil the history behind contemporary African culture. To experience, to touch, their bravery, and the hereditary beats…

Step Africa!: Drumfolk. https://krannertcenter.com/events/step-afrika-drumfolk
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“Clap, snap, and stamp”– the pounding of the Drumfolk

Drumfolk is a highly impressive performance that brought by Step Afrika, the world’s first professional company dedicated to the tradition of steeping. Performers will use their own bodies as an instrument to create their own beat. The Drumfolk was performed on February 6th at Colwell Playhouse

Written by Bingchen Li

Bodies as instruments

Drumfolk brought the spirit and energy to everyone in the show. The reason why performers use their own bodies as an instrument is because of the banning of the drum in 1740. We all know that we have a really dark and grieved history back to that uncivilized time. African Americans cannot use drums because of discrimination. However, as Dr. David said “They took the drums away… but they could not stop the beat.” Even they physically could not play the drum, but they could steeping!

Fabulous stage setting before the performance started
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Step Afrika! Stepping Into Resistance, Resilience, and Reclamation

What a perfect Friday night for a history major with a concentration in African American studies. Drumfolk shares the story that takes us back to when South Carolina passed The Negro Act of 1740 which would change the life of African Americans forever. The Negro Act prohibited slaves from reading, moving freely, gathering in groups, growing their own food, and even having their own instruments. However, Drumfolk showed the audience that they can take away the drums but they cannot stop the beat.

Before the performance that would that would showcase resistance, resilience, and reclamation.
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Revitalizing Black Movements in History: “Drumfolk”

The performers of Step Afrika! gave an unforgettable performance that allowed the audience to reflect on the history of America through the cultural significance of the beat.

Written by Grace Chen

An excited audience waiting for the performance to begin.

Step Afrika performed their new show Drumfolk on Friday, February 7th at the Colwell Playhouse in the Krannert Center of Performing Arts. The performers captured the attention of the audience with its exciting beats and eye-catching dance moves. They also told the history of black Americans and the fight for their rights.

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The Fight for Musical Freedom

The performance of Step Afrika!’s show, Drumfolk, blew the audience away with their dancing, vocals, and story-telling!

By Moises Sedano

Drumfolk is about resistance and fighting for what’s right. In this case, Africans lost their right to use drums so to fight back, they made music with their bodies.

My ticket to the show!
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Keeping the Beat Alive with Step Afrika!

Drumfolk: The second work by Step Afrika! that chronicles and celebrates the African-American experience in early America. With extensive research and years of percussive practice, Drumfolk explores historical events and the use of the drum as an instrument of community, resilience, and determination.

The performance occurred on a cold, snowy night. A sharp contrast from the intense performance of Step Afrika!.

Written by Zackarya Faci

Drumfolk, by Step Afrika!, was performed in the Colwell Playhouse at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts on February 7th, 2020. It was a tense performance as they told a story of oppression and perseverance. Using their voice, bodies, drums, and dance, they were able to recreate the emotions felt by many Africans in the 1740s. It was around this time that their freedom and culture was being restricted as a result of the actions of the Stono Rebellion. As seen in the performance, many Africans would not be easily suppressed and fought back against the new restrictions.

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