STEP AFRIKA The Migration: Reflections on Jacob Lawrence at The Soraya

STEP AFRIKA The Migration: Reflections on Jacob Lawrence at The Soraya

Step Afrika!, the first professional dance company in the world dedicated to the tradition of stepping, brings its latest piece, The Migration: Reflections on Jacob Lawrence, to The Soraya for its company debut on February 8 at 8:00pm. Based in Washington, D.C, Step Afrika! is rooted in the African tradition of Gumboot and brings it into the 21st century with an American blend of percussive movement and electrifying rhythms.

The Migration: Reflections on Jacob Lawrence is based on painter Jacob Lawrence's "Migration Series," 60 colorful paintings, created in 1941 in Harlem that document the Great Migration - the movement of African Americans from the rural South to the industrial North following the outbreak of World War I. It had its premiere at the New Victory Theater in New York in November of 2017.

Thor Steingraber, Executive Director of The Soraya said, "This season, we honor the story of human migration and programmed events that deal with issues head on. Immigration is now a prominent part of the national discussion and Step Afrika!'s new work is especially relevant. It focuses on a group of people who were brought to this country involuntarily and migrated within that country for greater freedom and opportunity. This piece is also rooted in an important piece of American visual art and is a perfect example of art influencing each other."

Tickets for Step Afrika!, priced from $33-$78, are now available at ValleyPerformingArtsCenter.org or by calling (818) 677-3000. The Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts (The Soraya) is located on the campus of California State University, Northridge (CSUN), 18111 Nordhoff Street Northridge, CA 91330-8448, at the corner of Nordhoff and Lindley.

About Step Afrika!'s The Migration: Reflections on Jacob Lawrence
Through this epic art piece, Lawrence tells a story that reminds us of our shared history and tat the same time invites us to reflect on the universal theme of struggle in the world today. Lawrence said, "To me, migration means movement. There was a conflict and a struggle. But out of that struggle came a kind of power and even beauty. 'And the migrants kept coming' is a refrain of triumph over adversity. If it rings true for you today, then it must still strike a chord in our American experience." Step Afrika! has taken this sentiment and translated it into a textured, interdisciplinary work with lightning-fast claps, intricate footwork, percussive chants, and perfect synchronicity.

The New York Times said, "The Migration: Reflections on Jacob Lawrence shows that stepping, in which performers use their feet and hands to turn their bodies into percussive instruments, can fill an evening. More important, it shows that stepping has reach: It can tell a story." The company's artistic director said in an interview with the Times, "It's not just a step routine. We're taking this cultural art form and walking you through a journey so that you can see what life was like around the 1800s and the early 1900s. What we end up with is a living, breathing, performed exhibition of visual art."

Step Afrika! was founded in 1994 as the first professional company dedicated to the tradition of stepping. It now ranks as one of the top ten African American dance companies in the United States.

The Company blends percussive dance styles practiced by historically African American fraternities and sororities, African traditional dance and influences from a variety of other dance and art forms. 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.
Step Afrika! promotes stepping as an educational tool for young people, focusing on teamwork, academic achievement and cross-cultural understanding. It reaches tens of thousands of Americans each year through a 50-city tour of colleges and theatres and performs globally as a cultural ambassador.
Step Afrika! holds workshops, residency programs and a variety of arts education activities for K-12 and college students in its home of Washington, DC and in cities around the world.
Step Afrika! recently performed at the White House for President Barack Obama and the First Lady, headlining their Presidential Black History Month Reception, and is also featured prominently at the Smithsonian's new National Museum of African-American History & Culture with the world's first stepping interactive.

About the Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts (The Soraya)
The Soraya opened its 2017-2018 season on September 16 with a performance of AMADEUS Live (Milos Foreman's 1984 Academy Award-winning Best Picture with live orchestra) with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and members of the LA Opera Chorus. The evening honored the Younes and Soraya Nazarian Foundation in recognition of the family's recent $17 million gift that will rename VPAC as the Younes and Soraya Nazarian Performing Arts Center, known as The Soraya. The gift is one of the largest in the history of the California State University and the system's largest single gift to support the arts; gift to support the programming and operations of the award-winning Valley Performing Arts Center - which has become one of the cultural jewels of the region in the six years since it opened.

The 2017-18 Soraya season signals a new era for the premier event venue. Under the leadership of Executive Director Thor Steingraber, the renamed Younes and Soraya Nazarian Performing Arts Center expands its programming and outstanding multidisciplinary performances. The mission of The Soraya is to present a wide variety of performances that not only includes new and original work from the Los Angeles region but also work from around the world that appeal to all of LA's rich and diverse communities.

Located on the campus of California State University, Northridge, The Soraya's season offers a vibrant performance program of nearly 50 classical and popular music, dance, theater, family and international events that will serve to establish The Soraya as the intellectual and cultural heart of the San Fernando Valley, and further establish itself as one of the top arts companies in Southern California. The award-winning, 1,700-seat theatre was designed by HGA Architects and Engineers and was recently cited by the Los Angeles Times as "a growing hub for live music, dance, drama and other cultural events."

Tickets:
Prices: Starting at $33. Prices subject to change.
By Phone: (818) 677-3000
Online: ValleyPerformingArtsCenter.org

Photo credit: William Perrigen



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