Step Afrika Steps it Up

Rhythmic beats, loud laughter and overwhelming appreciation for cultural art permeated throughout Ira Allen Chapel on Saturday night.The internationally acclaimed step team, Step Afrika, wowed University students and Burlington residents in a free show dedicated to the teamwork, academic achievement and cross-culture understanding.Opening the show was UVM’s own step team, Urban Flava. Exact coordination and clever conversation not only introduced Step Afrika but also exemplified the extraordinary talent and dedication that Urban Flava possesses.Beginning Step Afrika’s performance was a comical and informative presentation on the roots of stepping in American history.The six-member team gave a hilarious reenactment of what it was to pledge for a black fraternity and the hazing involved.Pride was communicated throughout the act, recalling the bonding of African Americans on primarily white campuses across America.Audience participation was called for next, and 15 volunteers were selected from the crowd to perform on stage.After a quick instructional practice, the members of UVM’s very own Unity Step Team gave a performance of ambitious standards.The volunteers were kept on stage in order to witness up-close the next act up close, which changed the setting to that of a Zhou tribe in South Africa.With tribal drums, costumes and chants, Step Afrika gave a wonderfully imaginative replication of some customs alien to America.Next, the audience was taken to the mines of South Africa where, due to language barriers, a style known as “gumbo” was created to communicate. This form of stepping, mixed with American hip-hop, impressed the audience.To finish off the show, Step Afrika gave a performance of tap dancing, snapping, clapping and alternating “sh” and “ah” noises, which the audience soaked up in somber admiration. “I don’t say this to every school,” said member Brian McCollum to the audience, “you gave us so much energy up here. Thank you!”Step Afrika left the stage to a standing ovation. After the show, audience members were abuzz about the performance while children replicated dance movements in the aisles. The six members of Step Afrika were swarmed by groups of fans, all vying to congratulate them.”It made me want to dance,” said sophomore Sean Lees. Laughter and good cheercould be heard all around University Avenue as audience members filed out and into thenight, alight with an appreciation for cultural diversity.