Step Africa!'s DRUMFOLK Will Bring Inspired Music & Dance to New Victory
Step Afrika! returns with its newest production, Drumfolk, based on historical events that took place during the 1700s in the Deep South. Building upon the success of The Migration: Reflections on Jacob Lawrence (New Victory 2017), Step Afrika! takes audiences on a journey from the 18th century to present-day America, where body percussion has shaped such modern art forms as hip hop and African American social dance, among others. Drumfolk runs at New Victory from February 28 - March 15, 2020, as part of the production's 10-city tour across the U.S.
Drumfolk explores this transformative movement in American history and honors the survival and evolution of a cultural ethos through rhythm, music and dance. Highlights include: Step Afrika!'s first presentation of dance and drumming traditions from Angola; an exploration of the ring shout, which is an African American dance over 200 years old, rarely seen on our country's stages; and a contemporary routine of stepping and vocal percussion.
A seminal addition to Step Afrika's dance canon, Drumfolk is inspired by the Stono Rebellion of 1739, an uprising of 20 enslaved Africans from Angola who used their drums to start a revolt in South Carolina. Though quickly suppressed, this little-known event sparked the Negro Act of 1740, which prohibited, among many other rights, the Africans' use of drums. In response, African Americans began to use their bodies as percussive instruments and this act of resistance, resilience and reclamation gave rise to some of the country's most distinctive movement-based art forms, including stepping, tap, hambone and the ring shout.
"Drumfolk chronicles and celebrates the African American experience in America," shares C. Brian Williams, Founder and Executive Director. "This new production is grounded in an extensive investigation into the tradition of stepping and over 25 years of Step Afrika!'s percussive practice. We're thrilled to be sharing this history and artistry with our audiences."
"We're so pleased to have Step Afrika! back at New Victory. The Migration: Reflections on Jacob Lawrence was deeply moving, and this work, Drumfolk, is the second of what will ultimately be a trilogy of works by this remarkable, relevant company," says Mary Rose Lloyd, New 42 Artistic Director.
Drumfolk is directed by Jakari Sherman. The cast includes dancers Kofi Agyei, Jeeda Barrington, Dionne Eleby, Matthew Evans, Conrad Kelly, Misha Michel, Vincent Montgomery, Joe Murchison, Ronniquè Murray, Dustin Praylow, Anesia Sandifer, Brittny Smith, Jordan Spry, Nicolas Stewart, DJ Jeeda Barrington and beatboxer Jamaal Collier. C. Brian Williams is the founder and executive director of Step Afrika! and Mfoniso Akpan is the company's artistic director. Simone Baskerville is the production manager and touring stage manager, Kenann M. Quander is the costume designer and Mary Rathell is the wardrobe assistant. Lighting design by Marianne Meadows; lighting supervisor Yannick Godts. Steven M. Allen is the composer, Kevin Alexander is the sound designer and Jeremiah L. Davison is the sound engineer. Mask design by Erik Teague.
Learn more about Drumfolk at NewVictory.org.
Public Performance Schedule:
Friday, February 28 at 7pm
Saturday, February 29 at 2pm / 7pm
Sunday, March 1 at 12pm / 5pm
Saturday, March 7 at 2pm / 7pm
Sunday, March 8 at 12pm / 5pm*
Friday, March 13 at 7pm
Saturday, March 14 at 2pm / 7pm
Sunday, March 15 at 12pm / 5pm
Drumfolk has a running time of 1 hour and 35 minutes including one intermission, and is recommended for ages 7 and up.
Full-price tickets for Drumfolk start at $17. Tickets are available online (NewVictory.org) and by phone (646.223.3010).
To purchase tickets in person, the New Victory box office is located at 209 West 42nd Street (between 7th / 8th Avenues). Box office hours are Sunday & Monday from 11am-5pm and Tuesday through Saturday from 12pm-7pm