Step into the storytelling and interactive experience of Step Afrika! with HT@MTC. Founded in 1994 by C. Brian Williams and featured at the Smithsonian’s new National Museum of African American History and Culture, they are the first professional company dedicated to the tradition of stepping. They are a group of talented and compelling individuals who combine percussive dance styles, traditional West and Southern African dances, and an array of contemporary dance and art forms to engage audiences and promote cross-cultural understanding. Together they are highly acclaimed and serve as a beacon of innovation and education within an artistic discipline.
*This season, we're offering discounted, group, and multi-show rates. Call the box office at 803.407.5011 for details.
C. Brian Williams, Founder & Executive Producer
Lamar Lovelace, Executive Director
Mfoniso Akpan, Artistic Director
Kristen L. Taylor, Company and Communications Manager
Conrad R. Kelly II, Assistant Artistic Directors
Artis Olds, Director of Arts Education and Community Programs
Misha Michel, Arts Education and Production Assistant
Conrad Kelly II
Learn more about Step Afrika!
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STEP AFRIKA! PROGRAM
Tribute pays homage to the African American step show. The work combines the distinct stepping styles from different fraternities and sororities and blends them together to showcase the incredible variety of stepping. Tribute includes all the exciting elements of the step show--the use of props, ripples and floor work, creative formations and audience participation. (Choreographed by Jakari Sherman)
Ndlamu is a traditional dance of the Zulu people and for more than 25 years, Step Afrika! has studied the dance form through the Company’s long-standing partnership with the Soweto Dance Theater. Step Afrika! makes this Ndlamu uniquely its own featuring solos created by each dancer as well as the addition of contemporary movement. (Choreographed by Jackie Semela)
Isicathulo or “the gumboot dance” is a tradition created by South African workers who labored in the oppressive mining industry of then-apartheid South Africa. Isolated from their families for long periods, the miners transformed their rubber boots into percussive instruments to not only entertain but to share secret messages with each other. Isicathulo has become one of the most popular dance forms in South Africa and has striking similarities to the African-American tradition of stepping. (Choreographed by Jackie Semela)
Traditionally, stepping is performed by groups, big and small. In this Solo, Step Afrika! investigates the form at its most intimate level.
Chicago finds the rhythm in everyday situations. It is a percussive symphony using body percussion and up to 5 complex polyrhythms performed simultaneously in order to narrate a percussive dance “story.” Inspired by a summer spent in the Windy City, this ground-breaking work transforms the 100-year old, folkloric tradition of stepping into contemporary performance art. (Choreographed by Jakari Sherman)
Audience participation has been a part of the step tradition since its inception in the 1900’s - members of the audience are invited to clap, stomp, cheer and participate in call and response with the Artists.
The Story of Step Afrika!
Founded in 1994 by C. Brian Williams, Step Afrika! is the first professional company dedicated to the tradition of stepping—a polyrhythmic, percussive dance form that uses the body as an instrument. Under Mr. Williams’ leadership, stepping has evolved into one of America’s cultural exports, touring more than 50 countries across the globe. Step Afrika! is one of the top 10 African American dance companies in the world. Step Afrika! promotes stepping as a contemporary dance genre through critically acclaimed performances and arts education programs. Creatively engaging audiences in this nascent art form, the Company creates full-length productions that expand on stepping’s unique American history.
Step Afrika! blends percussive dance styles practiced by historically African American fraternities and sororities; traditional West and Southern African dances; and an array of contemporary dance and art forms into a cohesive, compelling artistic experience. Performances are much more than dance shows; they integrate songs, storytelling, humor and audience participation. The blend of technique, agility, and pure energy makes each performance unique and leaves the audience with their hearts pounding.
The Company reaches tens of thousands of Americans each year through a 50-city tour of colleges and theatres and performs globally as Washington, DC’s one and only Cultural Ambassador. Step Afrika! has earned Mayor’s Arts Awards for Outstanding Contribution to Arts Education (2005); Innovation in the Arts (2008); and Excellence in an Artistic Discipline (2012); and performed at the White House for President Barack Obama and the First Lady.
Critically Acclaimed works, such as The Migration: Reflections on Jacob Lawrence and Drumfolk, tour to major U.S. cities. Step Afrika! is prominently featured at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History & Culture with an interactive exhibit on the art form of stepping.
To learn more, visit www.stepafrika.org.
Meet The Creative Team
NIOMI COLLARD, Lighting Designer/Production Manager of Step Afrika!, is a Washington DC and Tampa FL based lighting and projections designer. Niomi has designed lights and video on stage with Synetic Theater Company, The Source Festival, GALA Hispanic Theater, and was nominated for a DC Regional Award for Outstanding Production in a Play for KLYTMNESTRA by Dane Figueroa Edidi at Theater Alliance (2020). Niomi has been behind the camera as lighting director for PBS NewsHour, and designed lighting throughout the Smithsonian’s many museums. She has assisted designs at The Studio Theatre and Rorschach Theatre Company. Niomi helps lead TechOps for DragonCon in Atlanta, GA every Labor Day weekend, and is a graduate of the American University in Washington, D.C. Niomi joined Step Afrika! in 2017 and her favorite color is R318 Mayan Sun.
MFONISO AKPAN, Artistic Director of Step Afrika!, has trained extensively in tap, ballet, jazz, modern, African dance and step. While attending the State University of New York at Stony Brook, she majored in biochemistry and cultivated her stepping skills as a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Mfon began her training at the Bernice Johnson Cultural Arts Center and has performed at Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, the Apollo Theater, the Brooklyn Academy of Music and Lincoln Center. Mfon toured with the off-Broadway show "Hoofin' 2 Hittin," where she was a featured stepper and dancer.
C. BRIAN WILLIAMS, Founder and Executive Producer of Step Afrika!, is a native of Houston, Texas and graduate of Howard University. He is a National Heritage Fellow as designated by the National Endowment of the Arts, the nation's highest honor in the folk and traditional arts. Brian first learned to step as a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. — Beta Chapter, in the Spring of 1989. While living in Southern Africa, he began to research the percussive dance tradition of stepping, exploring the many sides of this exciting, yet under-recognized American art form and founded Step Afrika! in 1994. Williams has performed, lectured and taught in Europe, Central and South America, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, the Caribbean and throughout the United States. He is the founder of the monumental Step Afrika! International Cultural Festival in Johannesburg, South Africa. Through Williams’ leadership, stepping has evolved into one of America’s newest cultural exports and inspired the designation of Step Afrika! as Washington, D.C.’s official “Cultural Ambassador.” Williams has been cited as a “civic/community visionary” by NV Magazine, a “nation builder” by the National Black Caucus of State Legislators and a “minority business leader” by the Washington Business Journal. He is the recipient of numerous Artist Fellowships; the Distinguished Arts Award from the Coalition for African-Americans in the Performing Arts; the Pola Nirenska Award for Contemporary Achievement in Dance. He is also featured in Soulstepping, the first book to document the history of stepping. He also earned the 2008 Mayor’s Art Award for Innovation in the Arts and has led the company to multiple Metro DC Dance Awards for “Outstanding New Work,” “Excellence in Stage Design/ Multimedia” and “Outstanding Group Performance.” In 2018, Williams received the Mayor’s Arts Award for Visionary Leadership from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities.
Meet The Company
ARIEL DYKES is from Gainesville, Florida. She received an Associate of Arts Degree in Musical Theatre from Santa Fe College and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance from the University of Florida. She has trained in traditional and post-modern dance, jazz, voice, and acting and worked with such artists as Ailey Dancers Nathaniel Hunt and Samantha Barriento, Tony Award-winner Scott Coulter, and world-renowned choreographer and performer Galen Hooks. She was introduced to stepping and strolling as a member of the Iota Lambda Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., where she choreographed step routines for the chapter and UF’s National Panhellenic Council.
KAYSHON HAWKINS is a dancer, choreographer, and teacher from Henderson, North Carolina. He has been teaching dance for four years, teaching all ages, specializing in hip-hop. He taught at The Pointe! Dance Studio in Greensboro, NC, for two years. Kayshon graduated from Fayetteville State University with a Bachelor's degree in Theatre in 2018, with a profession in audio and sound.
AKIEVIA HICKMAN is a native of Tallahassee, Florida. She received an MBA from Florida A&M University. She is a member of the Beta Alpha chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Trained in hip-hop and jazz, Akievia also studied modern contemporary dance under the direction of Shepiro Hardemon as a member of Mahogany Dance Theatre. She created her own dance company, Killer Heels, which has helped build her into a great choreographer. Akievia was introduced to stepping in high school when she joined the Code Red Step team and furthered her experience in college as a member of the Rampage Step Team.
JABARI JONES is a native of Detroit, Michigan. He started dancing at the age of 8 – inspired by the performances of recording artist, Usher. Prior to Step Afrika!, he was a featured performer for artists such as Aloe Blacc, Detroit 1-8-7, Elijah J, Jacob Latimore, K Jay Music, and The Music Factory. In addition to dancing in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, he has also been an actor in productions of College Boyfriends and Mooz-Lum. Jabari studied English at Morehouse College and immediately joined Step Afrika! upon graduating in 2017. He is a proud member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc.
CONRAD R. KELLY II, Assistant Artistic Director of Step Afrika!, is a native of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where he attended Dillard High School of the Visual and Performing Arts. While attending Florida A & M University, he became a member of the Marching 100 and the Strikers. After college, Conrad became a soloist for The Rolle Project in Las Vegas as well as a dance instructor with Studio 305, where he regularly taught classes in hip-hop, contemporary and jazz dance. Conrad plans to use his performing and teaching experiences to open a mentoring program for young male dancers.
ISAIAH O'CONNOR is from Miami, Florida. He received a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University. In college, Isaiah joined the Strikers Dance Troupe under the direction of Shepiro Hardemon and studied hip-hop, modern, and urban soul. He aspires to use his talents to learn about performing while also giving back to those who helped him.
ANESIA SANDIFER is a native of Augusta, Georgia. She attended the University of Georgia where she received a BBA in Finance and a minor in Dance. She also became a member of the Zeta Psi chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc, where she served as Step Master. Anesia was a full scholarship recipient at the 2015 Debbie Allen Summer Intensive in Los Angeles, CA. She has performed on ESPN for the Special Olympics 2015 World Games as a dancer for O.A.R. and Siedah Garrett.
VALENCIA ODEYKA EMONNI SPRINGER is a native of Brooklyn, New York. Valencia received a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and served as the first “Stand Queen” (captain) with the Ambassadors of Sound Marching band at Virginia Union University. She studied ballet, jazz, African, hip-hop, and contemporary dance at Restoration Youth Arts Academy and has performed with Forces of Nature and Dance Africa (Brooklyn). Valencia is a proud member of the Nu Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc. and the Eta Psi Chapter of Tau Beta Sigma National Honorary band sorority.
PELHAM WARNER is from The Bronx, New York and attended Dutchess Community College. As a teenager, Pelham was a member of The Players Club Steppers. He then found his home stepping with the Harlem, New York-based group, The Order of the Feather Fraternity, where he served as the team’s Step Master and captain for five years. He is blessed to have the opportunity to continue his passion for stepping, performing, and teaching with Step Afrika!
ROBERT WARNSLEY is a native of Chicago, Illinois. He graduated from Illinois State University with a BS in Information Technology. Robert learned to step and stroll as a member of the Eta Tau chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. In addition to stepping, he practices hip-hop and Chicago-style footworking.