Step Afrika! comes to Campbell Hall on February 16 | Credit: Sekou Luke

Step Afrika! brings an evening full of high-energy dance that’s sure to get your heart pounding on Thursday, February 16. Presented by UCSB Arts & Lectures in association with the Center for Black Studies Research, the Department of Black Studies, and the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Step Afrika! continues and extends the long tradition of stepping by integrating traditional and contemporary dance forms with songs, storytelling, humor, and audience participation in a compelling artistic experience that is accessible to all audiences.

The Washington, D.C.–based Step Afrika! specializes in stepping, a percussive, highly energetic art form first developed through historically acknowledged African-American fraternities and sororities’ song and dance rituals. These rituals come from a long history of percussive rhythms that characterize African American music and dance culture and their ties to the dances of enslaved people in the American South. Stepping uses bodily percussion — footsteps, clapping, and spoken word — as part of the musical score, and the dances themselves have a deep tie to other dance forms, such as tap dance and juba or hambone. These hybridized dance forms have a rich history that makes Step Afrika!’s innovative work all the more engaging.

Step Afrika! is also the first professional company dedicated to the tradition of stepping. Founder C. Brian Williams has overseen their journey from its beginnings as an exchange program with the Soweto Dance Theatre of Johannesburg, South Africa, to a professional company that has toured throughout the United States and traveled internationally to more than 50 countries. Step Afrika! expands “the aesthetic possibilities of stepping by creating works that combine stepping with live music, technology, and storytelling,” states their website. Since its founding 30 years ago, Step Afrika! has been named an official Cultural Ambassador for Washington, D.C., and Williams has been named a National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellow.

The group’s acclaim and popularity comes from its innovative approach that weaves music, storytelling, and humor into a contemporary art form influenced by cultural dances that have survived and morphed through history, bodies, and time. Their self-titled concert showcasing the art of stepping will entertain audiences of all ages.

Step Afrika! performs at UCSB’s Campbell Hall on Thursday, February 16, at 7 p.m. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit

Support the Santa Barbara Independent through a long-term or a single contribution.


Please note this login is to submit events or press releases. Use this page here to login for your Independent subscription

Not a member? Sign up here.