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Step Afrika! Returns To Boston - ArtsEmerson Announces DRUMFOLK


Step Afrika! Returns To Boston - ArtsEmerson Announces DRUMFOLK

ArtsEmerson is honored to bring Step Afrika! back to Boston this summer. The company's newest work, Drumfolk, will play a limited two-week engagement from July 22 - August 01, 2020 at the Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre. This Summer Special engagement bridges the current and upcoming ArtsEmerson Seasons and marks the third time the Boston arts organization has hosted Step Afrika! (Step Afrika! in November 2013, and The Migration: Reflections on Jacob Lawrence in May 2018).

Drumfolk is inspired by The Stono Rebellion of 1739, an uprising initiated by 20 enslaved Africans who used their drums to start a revolt in South Carolina. The rebellion was suppressed, and the Negro Act of 1740 took away the rights to assemble, read and use drums from the African people. The production takes audiences on a journey from the then-colony of South Carolina in the 17th century to the present-day, where the instrument has shaped new art forms like hip hop and African American social dance. Drumfolk is a percussive celebration of American history, placing a spotlight on the rhythmic cycle of life that bonds all of us together.

Through music, stepping, patting juba and ring shouts, the remarkable performers of Step Afrika! recreate histories too often left in the margins, and achieve a musical and movement-filled celebration of the human spirit that is perfect for entire families to share together.

Drumfolk will have 12 performances, July 22 - August 01, 2020, at the Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre. Tickets may be purchased at, by phone at 617.824.8400 or in person at the central ticket office for ArtsEmerson, located at the Emerson Paramount Center.

Groups of 10+ attending any performance save between 20%-30%, and ArtsEmerson Package Holders save between 15%-40%, depending on their package plan. For more information and best availability, contact the box office at or 617.824.8400.

"Step Afrika! is building a terrific following in Boston through ArtsEmerson, to me not unlike Montreal's 7 Fingers, which also had a major summer run in the Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre," says ArtsEmerson Artistic Director David Dower. "We are proud to be a commissioner of their latest work. It is a very happy coincidence that they will be on stage during the national gathering of the NAACP. The celebration of the rhythms, resilience, and resistance of the African American culture provides a buoyant moment in the middle of the weighty considerations of that conference and our election season. As ever, with this company, the experience they create is one of communal joy and connection, and we are moved every time- both in our hearts and in our bodies."

"Drumfolk is the result of over 25 years of percussive practice and research by Step Afrika!," states C. Brian Williams, Founder & Executive Director of Step Afrika! "I can't wait for audiences to experience our choreographic investigation of the ring-shout, one of the oldest American percussive dance forms that's rarely seen on stage, as well as an exciting merger of stepping with vocal percussion, also known as 'beatboxing'."

Drumfolk was made possible by the New England Foundation for the Arts' National Dance Project with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Lead Commissioning Support provided by ArtsEmerson, Hancher Auditorium, Eugene Lang Foundation and the Strathmore Performing Arts Center. Additional support provided by Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, The New Victory Theater, Delaware Art Museum, Meany Center for the Performing Arts, The Soraya and the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities.

Founded in 1994 by C. Brian Williams, Step Afrika! is the world's first professional company dedicated to the tradition of stepping-a polyrhythmic, percussive dance form that uses the body as an instrument. 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 new full-length productions that expand on stepping's unique American history.

With 14 full-time dancers and administrative team of 6, Step Afrika! is one of the top 10 U.S. African American dance companies. The Company reaches thousands each year through a 50-city tour of American colleges and theaters and performs globally as an official U.S. Cultural Ambassador. New work, such as The Migration: Reflections on Jacob Lawrence and Drumfolk, tour to major U.S. cities. Step Afrika! is featured at the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History & Culture with the world's first interactive stepping exhibit.

ArtsEmerson is Boston's leading presenter of contemporary world theatre. Our mission is to bring people together to experience powerful performances that delight, provoke, and inspire, celebrating both our differences and common humanity. Founded in 2010 by Robert J. Orchard - the year the U.S. Census confirmed there was no single cultural majority in Boston - we committed to building a cultural institution that reflects the diversity of our city. Our imaginative season of globe-spanning performances, film, and dialogue invites each of us to be part of a Boston that is more creative, equitable, and connected. ArtsEmerson is led by Artistic Director, David Dower and Executive Director, David Howse. For more information, visit

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