Production is a celebration of resistance, resilience, and reclamation
Mona M. Rock
(NORTH BETHESDA, MD) – Strathmore is a proud co-commissioner of Step Afrika!’s newest large-scale production, Drumfolk — a celebration of the fortitude of enslaved Africans who practiced transcendent musical forms. The DC-area premiere will be held March 3 and 4 at 8 p.m. in the Music Center at Strathmore.
What is Drumfolk?
Inspired by the Stono Rebellion of 1739, Drumfolk tells the story of one of the largest rebellions organized by Africans in the “New World.” Initiated by enslaved people who used their drums to start a revolt in South Carolina, the Stono Rebellion led to the Negro Act of 1740 which took away the rights to assemble, read, and use drums from Africans in the American colonies. African people used their drums as a call for action, leading a fight for freedom that would spark fear throughout the colonies. When Africans lost the right to communicate through drums, the beats found their way into the body of the people, the Drumfolk. New percussive forms took root leading to the development of some of our country’s most distinct performance traditions like ring shout, tap, and stepping.
“Grounded in extensive research and over 28 years of percussive practice, Drumfolk reveals hidden, transformative events that greatly impacted American life, and the performance explores the drum as an instrument of community, resilience and determination,” said C. Brian Williams, Step Afrika! founder and executive producer. “Drumfolk is Step Afrika!’s opportunity to commemorate the history of these unsung heroes who so bravely fought for freedom.”
Drumfolk honors the heritage of stepping and places the evolution of this vibrant art form in historical context. The spectacular production reflects on the harsh realities of the American South and celebrates the resistance, resilience, and reclamation of African people in America.
STRATHMORE’S PARTNERSHIP WITH STEP AFRIKA!
Strathmore’s partnership with Step Afrika! spans 15 years with high-quality outreach initiatives for the community and in-depth opportunities for audiences to experience Step Afrika!’s performances work from multiple angles. The company’s energetic performances are matched by exceptional educational programs that blend percussive dance styles practiced by historically African American fraternities and sororities. Traditional African and contemporary dances are transformed into compelling artistic experiences that have earned the company a reputation as one of the most successful African American dance companies in the country and Washington DC’s largest African American arts organization. During the past 25 years, the Company’s full-time performers have visited at least 60 countries, taking the stage in Samoa, Croatia, Luxembourg, Egypt and most recently representing the U.S.A. at the World Expo in Dubai.
“Our region is an incredibly rich amalgam of cultural treasures and traditions,” said Monica Jeffries Hazangeles, Strathmore President and CEO. “With Drumfolk, Strathmore and Step Afrika! are animating a defining moment in history that is important to Africans and African Americans in our community and inspiring to us all.”
See clips and learn more about Drumfolk here.
ABOUT STEP AFRIKA!
Founded in 1994 by C. Brian Williams, Step Afrika! is the first professional company dedicated to the tradition of stepping. Under Mr. Williams’ leadership, stepping has evolved into one of America’s cultural exports, touring more than 60 countries across the globe, and the Company now ranks as one of the top 10 African American dance companies in the United States. Step Afrika! blends percussive dance styles practiced by historically African American fraternities and sororities; traditional African dances; and an array of contemporary dance and art forms into a cohesive, compelling artistic experience.
Strathmore presents and produces exemplary visual and performing arts programs for diverse audiences; creates dynamic arts education experiences; and nurtures creative ideas and conversations that advance the future of the arts.
All of Strathmore’s facilities are Global Biorisk Advisory Council® (GBAC) STAR™ accredited.
Proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test, and facemasks are required to attend any performance or event inside any of its buildings.
For further information or tickets, call (301) 581-5100 or visit www.strathmore.org.