MILWAUKEE — Step Afrika! is stepping onto the stage at the Marcus Performing Arts Center, and it turns out they’re going to stay a while.
Step Afrika! will hold a three-day residency at the Marcus Center from Jan. 18 to 20, the Marcus Center announced on Thursday. Step Afrika! is an award-winning African American step dance company.
Step Afrika!, founded in 1994, was the first professional dance company in the world that focused on stepping.
“Stepping is a percussive, highly-energetic art form first developed through the song and dance rituals performed by African-American fraternities and sororities. In stepping, the body becomes an instrument, using footsteps, claps and spoken word to produce complex poly-rhythms,” according to Step Afrika!
The company said it blends traditional stepping with western and southern African dances, contemporary dance and other arts forms — such as songs, storytelling and humor — into its shows.
The residency starts on Wednesday, with an intermediate dance workshop for adults at the Bradley Pavilion. Donald Driver, Green Bay Packers veteran and community advocate, will be in attendance. The workshop runs from 6 to 7 p.m. Pre-registration is required. Register by contacting Leah Townsend, Marcus Center’s community engagement and programming specialist, at email@example.com.
At 7:30 p.m., Driver will emcee a “Divine 9 Roll Call Showcase.” The Divine 9 is “a coalition of the nine largest historically African American Greek-letter fraternities and sororities,” including Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. and Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc. Berthena Brister, the president of National Pan-Hellenic Council of Milwaukee, will speak as well. The showcase, located at Wilson Theater at Vogel Hall, is free and open to the public.
On Thursday, "Step Afrika! will host a youth dance workshop with Driver and area high school students at the Bradley Pavilion from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.. Pre-registration is required. Register by contacting Townsend at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Step Afrika! promotes stepping as an educational tool for young people, focusing on teamwork, academic achievement and cross-cultural understanding,” according to the Marcus Center.
At 7:30 p.m., Step Afrika! will perform at Uihlein Hall. Driver will moderate a post-show Q&A session with company performers. Tickets for the public performance are available, here.
On Friday at 10 a.m., there will be a Step Afrika! student matinee performance for 2,000 Milwaukee-area kids at Uihlein Hall. That show is already sold out.