As a fan of dance, my expectations were high when I found out that I would be attending “Step Afrika’s Step Xplosion at Strathmore. The event which wasn’t an all-out competition, but more or a less a celebration of stepping and, how it helps children on their journey into adulthood.
Founded in 1994 as the first professional company dedicated to the tradition of stepping, Step Afrika! ranks as one of the top ten African American dance companies in the United States. The acoustics in the venue were perfect to bring out the toe thumping sounds of the steppers throughout the various routines. The first act of the night was Step Afrika.
Dressed in traditional African attire, Step Afrika opened the show with an impressive routine set to the beats of African Drums. Displaying remarkable gymnastics skills mixed with ae inspiring chirography it was a sight to see, with my favorite moment being the display of Capoeira a Brazilian martial arts style.
Following the impressive opening, was the Howard University-based step team of Alpha Phi Alpha. I’ve seen the step team of Alpha Phi Alpha in the past, and per the usual, they gave an awe-inspiring performance. Dressed in Roman Gladiator style attire, the group danced in Sync as well as showing a loyal brotherhood.
Two of the younger step teams The Royal Diamonds Step Team & Eklipse were also impressive. Eklipse followed the Alpha’s while The Royal Diamonds appeared later in the show. While both teams were younger than the others, they displayed dance skills beyond their age.
Black girl joy & sisterhood were prevalent in both all-female steps team, The Lady Raiders, and The Paint Branch Electric Steppers. Up first was The Paint Branch Electric Steppers. The group was a confident group of young women showcasing a touching bond of sisterhood. I first became familiar with the group after seeing in last summer’s documentary, Step.
Hailing from Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Greenbelt, Maryland, the highlight of the night for me was The Lady Raiders. Using the backdrop of “Whole Step,” (a homage to Whole Foods), The Lady Raiders incorporated comedy into their natural routine.
The last act of the night was Dem Raider Boyz Step Squad, founded in 2001, like The Lady Raiders, they also hail from Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Greenbelt, Maryland. The young men used comedy as well a Sword in The Stone them to highlight their dance skills.
After the last act of the night, all the teams were invited back on stage for a jam session with musician Rowan Corbett. Seeing all the unity of various ages and genders, all for the love of dance, was the perfect close to the night.
If you are a fan of dance, I highly recommend checking out Step Afrika, the next time there’s a show in the DMV.
Final Grade: A-