When a young graduate of Howard University traveled to Africa in 1991, he came across the gumboot dance. Created by South African mineworkers, it bore a strong resemblance to the stepping he had learned in his college fraternity. He later met members of the Soweto Dance Theatre, and the Step Afrika International Cultural Festival was born – the first known attempt to link the two forms of dance. Today Step Afrika! is the only national company exploring this cultural connection, in performances at home and abroad. Locally, there is a double focus: performance and arts education. Interactive workshops and artists residencies teach the history of stepping as an American art form (the body is used as an instrument to create rhythms and sounds that combine with footsteps, claps, and spoken word) and emphasize the synergy between stepping, teamwork, discipline, hard work, and academic success. Designated the first Cultural Ambassador for Washington, DC, and winner of the Mayor’s Arts Award for Outstanding Contribution to the field, Step Afrika! truly is the rhythm of Washington.
Headquarters: DC-Ward 6
Where They Operate: DC-Citywide; DC-Ward 1; DC-Ward 2; DC-Ward 3; DC-Ward 4; DC-Ward 5; DC-Ward 6; DC-Ward 7; DC-Ward 8; MD-Montgomery County; MD-Prince George's County; MD-Frederick County; VA-Arlington County; VA-Fairfax County; VA-Prince William County; VA-City of Alexandria; VA-City of Fairfax; Internationally; Croatia; South Africa
Age Groups Served: Pre-K; Youth; Adolescence; Teenagers; Young Adult; Adult; Elderly; Grades K-5; Grades K-12; Grades 6-12; Grade 9-12; All
Ethnic Groups Served: African American, 65%; Asian American, 4%; Caucasian, 18%; Latino/Hispanic, 9%; Multicultural, 3%; Native American, 1%
Population(s) Served: All
Schools They Work In: Beers Elementary School; Deal Middle School; Hart Middle School; Johnson Middle School; Smothers Elementary School; Tyler Elementary School
Awards & Recognition
2014 DC Council Resolution, Step Afrika! Day - December 4
2012 Mayor's Arts Award for Excellence in an Artistic Discipline
2011 Pola Nirenska Award for Contemporary Achievement in Dance
2010 Metro DC Dance Award - Outstanding Group Performance
2008 Mayor’s Art Award for Innovation in the Arts
2008 Metro DC Dance Award- Outstanding New Work
2009 Cultural Ambassador for District of Columbia
2005 Mayor's Art Award- Outstanding Contribution to Arts in Education
Catalogue charities range in size from $100,000 to
- $3 million or higher
- The current budget for Step Afrika! USA is: $1 million to $3 million
- $500k to $1 million
- Less than $500k
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