As I searched for a last course to fill my general education requirement, I wanted the course to be special. I wanted a course that I gave me a hands on experience outside of the typical engineering courses that I took. A close friend of mine suggested FAA 110 as such a course, and I am so glad that she did. FAA 110 became the favorite class that I took at University of Illinois. I had very little knowledge nor experience in arts and I was able to enjoy the amazing performances and museums that were held at our university.
February 7, 2020 was a perfect Friday night at the Colwell Playhouse in Kranner Center for Performing Arts. A spectacular performance entitled “ Step Afrika ! : Drumfolk” shared the story that took place when South Carolina passed The Negro Act of 1740.
I attended Step Afrika! on February 7, 2020 at The Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. The performance definitely built a strong sense of community. There were many parts where they danced in unison perfectly. They were all doing the exact same movement at the same exact time. It was unbelievable. I believe moving in ripples is a stronger sense of unity than moving in unison. Knowing when the person before you is going and then moving at the right time is such a hard thing to do. Especially when there are like 7 people ahead of you and you have to know exactly when each of them moves. It was like their minds were connected and they were communicating with each other the whole time.
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
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
On Feb 7th, 2020, “Step Afrika!”, a signature African-American drum performance was performed at the Colwell Playhouse (Krannert Center for Performing Arts); and it amazed the audiences with its special art forms, including the tap dance and stepping.
It was an amazing performance! With the strong passion, high-energy, and creativity of performers, audiences had an incredibly amazing experience. They invited audiences to fully enjoy and participate in the performance through a devised process with the cast and great interaction.