Step Africa! brings “Drumfolk” to Arena Stage, describing a little-known event in African American history

Step Afrika’s five-year partnership! and Arena Stage in DC begins Tuesday with “Drumfolk,” which will run through June 26.

Step Afrika’s five-year partnership! and Arena Stage in DC starts Tuesday with “Drumfolk“Will last until June 26.

“We’ll be at the Arena Stage for 32 performances,”. “I am very pleased that the audience in Washington, DC, can see this work live and in person. …

Founder C. Brian Williams told WTOP that Step Afrika! is “the world’s first professional company dedicated to the fine form of stepping, a striking art form that uses the body as a tool.”

The play is inspired by a little-known historical event in Colonial America, the Ston Uprising of 1739, which Williams called “one of the largest African uprisings against the institution of slavery in the New World.”

Williams said: “It was not in this collection of Africans. They fought against the institution of slavery in 1739; they started a riot that was suppressed. “

The enslaved people used drums to send signals to each other during the uprising, so the colonists wrote to the King of England asking permission to pass the Negro law of 1740. “The colonists made the drum an illegal weapon and took away the drum,” Williams said.

But they could not stop the rhythm: “As soon as the drum is taken from the Africans, we see that it begins to live in the human body.”

Don’t expect a theatrical play; “Dramfolk” is a clear dance performance.

“These are dancers inspired by this movement, so we take a historical moment and interpret it through our body,” Williams said. “Artists of Step Africa! are the best in this step art form in the world. I have gathered 16 of the most beautiful dancers who practice and love the tradition of stepping.

In addition to dancers, you’ll also see vocal performers and instrumentalists, including local beatboxer Christilez Bacon. “He brings his vocal percussion skills combined with our body percussion to create really interesting magic on stage,” Williams said. “Then we have amazing percussionists, traditional African drummers who complement.”

The costume reflects the historical echoes of the performance. “We go from the costumes of the period itself to American history of the early 1700s and to the present,” Williams said.

It was part of Williams ’personal quest to uncover his true story, and the incident was something he didn’t know about.

“As an African-American, as a descendant of ancestors who were enslaved, this is a big part of our history, and I’m confused as to why I never found out about it,” Williams said. “I’ve studied African American history all my life, but I’ve had to do it outside of the traditional school system. I went to Howard University … just to learn more about my history. ”

He invites people of all backgrounds to study this story because it is the complete history of America.

“We need to be involved in this process,” Williams said. “We need to be open to these stories and be prepared to accept them and be able to deal with the difficulties that cause some of these stories, and fight them, reconcile them, and then hopefully make much better decisions in the future. … The full story has not been told yet. “

Listen to our full conversation here.

As on WTOP Facebook and follow the WTOP Twitter and Instagram join the conversation on this article and others.

Get the latest news and daily headlines to your inbox by signing up here.

© 2022 WTOP. All rights reserved. This website is not intended for users in the European Economic Area.

Source link