African-American dance company Step Afrika! will perform at the Saint Mary’s University Page Theatre on Saturday, February 3, at 7:30 p.m. Winona local Nathan Graff will open the show with a solo tap performance.
Ranked among the top 10 African-American dance companies in the U.S., Step Afrika! is dedicated to the tradition of stepping. Founded in 1994, Step Afrika! is based in Washington, D.C. The company travels the world, visiting 10 different countries and performing for more than 50,000 people each year.
Step Afrika! delivers a compelling artistic experience by blending percussive dance styles popular among African-American fraternities and sororities at historically black colleges and universities, traditional West and South African dances, and an assortment of contemporary dance and art forms.
The company will perform Tribute, Ndlamu, and Iscathulo, among others. Each dance features components of the stepping tradition, as well as elements of African history and culture. The audience is encouraged to participate during the performances by clapping, stomping, cheering, and calling out in response. This lively interaction has been part of the stepping tradition since its beginnings.
Opening for Step Afrika! is 18-year-old Nathan Graff, a Cotter High School senior and Winona local. Graff has been tapping at the Minnesota Conservatory of the Arts since a young age, largely under the direction of Christine Martin. He was recently named a Tap Scholar by the internationally known Chicago Human Rhythm Project and had the opportunity to study under founder and artistic director Lane Alexander. Graff will perform a solo choreographed for him by Alexander and set to Thelonius Monk’s “In Walked Bud.” His solo will be a fusion of rhythm tap and jazz with fast footwork and musical creativity.
Prior to the show, the public is invited to a free stepping workshop with Step Afrika! in the Gostomski Fieldhouse Gymnasium on the Saint Mary’s campus. The workshop will begin at 12:30 p.m. and is open to all ages. No stepping experience is required. Please wear sneakers or soft-soled shoes.
Tickets for Step Afrika! are $27 for adults and $24 for students and senior citizens. They may be purchased at pagetheatre.org or by calling 507-457-1715 from noon to 6 p.m. on weekdays. Tickets are not required for those attending the stepping workshop.
About the Performance Center
Serving over 25,000 visitors per year, the goal of the Performance Center at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota is to be Southeast Minnesota’s premiere performing arts center, bringing artists and community together through imaginative programming, unique collaborations, a welcoming atmosphere, and exceptional service. The Performance Center strives to be the venue through which artists and community connect, where audiences can experience a variety of cultures through quality performances of music, theatre and dance, and discover the relevance of the arts in their daily lives.
About Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota
Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota awakens, nurtures, and empowers learners to ethical lives of leadership and service. At Saint Mary’s, students find in every classroom — whether in person or online — a relationship-driven, person-centered education. Through intense inquiry, students discover the truths in the world and the character within. Founded in 1912 and accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota enrolls 5,700 students at its residential undergraduate college in Winona and its schools of graduate and professional programs, based in Minneapolis but extending worldwide. Saint Mary’s offers respected and affordable programs in a variety of areas leading to bachelor’s, bachelor’s completion, master’s, certificate, specialist, and doctoral degrees. Learn more at smumn.edu.