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Through the Years

Step through 30 years of Step Afrika!'s history

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1994
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previous years
performances

December 4, 1994

Step Afrika! begins as a Festival in Johannesburg, South Africa

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milestones

December 23, 1994

“I am filled with deep gratitude, reflecting on the extraordinary moments that have shaped the last three decades of Step Afrika! So many amazing people have been a part of this artistic journey, and together, we have built an arts organization that has touched hundreds of thousands across the globe. This timeline is a celebration of the collaborative spirit that defines Step Afrika! and the traditions we honor.”

- C. Brian Williams, Founder and Executive Producer, Step Afrika!

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performances

April 28, 1995

The Step Afrika! International Cultural Festival grows, earns national recognition

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arts-education

April 30, 1995

Painter Charles Nelson creates Step Afrika!-inspired work of art

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milestones

February 1, 1996

"A Step Show from South Africa": Step Afrika! appears in its first major article in the US for YSB Magazine

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milestones

September 1, 1996

Step Afrika! is featured in “Steppin’ on The Blues”, one of the first books to feature and investigate the tradition of stepping.

- Author Dr. Jaqui Malone, Published 1996

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performances

December 4, 1996

Artists work together at the 3rd Edition of the Step Afrika! International Cultural Festival

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milestones

January 14, 1997

The Johannesburg Star hails Step Afrika! as “revelatory performance”

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milestones

August 1, 1997

Step Afrika! earns critical acclaim in the USA

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milestones

December 4, 1997

Fraternity and sorority traditions merge at the 4th Step Afrika! International Cultural Festival; Celebrity Actor Dule Hill brings the tradition of tap for the first time

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milestones

December 7, 1998

The 5th Step Afrika! International Dance Festival hosted by the Soweto Dance Theatre takes place in White City, Soweto

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arts-education

September 1, 1999

Step Afrika! partners with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts to develop the Company’s arts education programs

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milestones

December 6, 1999

C. Brian Williams leads a Sixth Delegation of Artists to Step Afrika!’s International Cultural Festival in Johannesburg

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performances

January 18, 2000

Step Afrika! performs 10 sold-out shows at The Kennedy Center

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milestones

June 23, 2000

Step Afrika! introduces stepping to the 2000 Smithsonian Folklife Festival

- June 23, 2000

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milestones

August 24, 2000

"Divided by origin to unite in rhythm": Footworks Percussive Dance Ensemble and Step Afrika! come together

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arts-education

September 1, 2000

The Company works with Greg Polvere of Global Talent HQ, LLC; Embarks on the First Tour of American Colleges and Universities

- Touring begins in 2000

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milestones

August 14, 2001

Step Afrika! performs at the Royal Festival Hall in London, UK

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performances

October 19, 2001

Step Afrika! develops new performance; earns acclaim from The Washington Post

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performances

August 24, 2002

Step Afrika! premieres 'Solemates' in collaboration with Footworks Percussive Dance Ensemble

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milestones

July 1, 2003

Stepping Up: C. Brian Williams is profiled for New Vision (NV) in Business Magazine

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milestones

August 14, 2003

Community members gather to celebrate the life and legacy of Mbuyiselwa Jacob (Jackie) Semela

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milestones

September 1, 2003

“Soulstepping”, the first book to document the history of stepping, explores the history of Step Afrika!

- Author Elizabeth C. Fine, Published 2003

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milestones

November 8, 2003

All Things Considered’s Michele Norris features Step Afrika!

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milestones

November 22, 2003

Synchronicity Anniversary: Step Afrika! hosts the first ever VIP Gala in honor of the Company's decade-long success

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milestones

April 1, 2004

Step Afrika! sells out performances at the Kennedy Center's Performing Arts Imagination Celebration

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arts-education

September 1, 2005

Step Afrika! partners with the Young Audiences of Arts Education Virginia and Class Acts Arts, bolstering arts education performances and workshops

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performances

May 31, 2006

Step Afrika! brings the rhythm home: the Company's very first Home Performance Series takes place in Washington, DC

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performances

November 4, 2006

Step Afrika! premiere's 'Nxt/step' by Jakari Sherman at Dance Place in Washington, DC

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milestones

May 1, 2007

Sharing the Joy of Stepping: The Washingtonian names C. Brian Williams as one of Washington DC's 40 under 40

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performances

May 27, 2007

Global Graduations: the Company returns to the Virgin Islands and tours Vietnam for the first time

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milestones

April 11, 2008

C. Brian Williams receives the 2008 DC Mayor’s Art Award for Innovation in the Arts

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arts-education

April 26, 2008

Step Afrika! partners with the Girl Scouts for the first time for their DC Step Showcase

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milestones

August 19, 2008

"Dancing Locally, Stepping Globally": Step Afrika! appears in the New York Times for the first time

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arts-education

September 1, 2008

Celebrating 10 years of partnership with the Kennedy Center, Step Afrika! introduces an updated Educational Guide to accompany arts education programming

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milestones

December 4, 2008

Step Afrika! performs during the Lighting of the National Christmas Tree for President George W. Bush

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milestones

February 1, 2009

"Stomp the Stage": Step Afrika! appears in a Dance Magazine spread

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arts-education

March 1, 2009

"Stepping Stone to College": Dance Studio Life profiles Step Afrika!, centering the impact of stepping as an educational tool

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performances

July 9, 2009

The Company celebrates 15 years with a return to South Africa

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milestones

August 1, 2009

Mayor Adrian M. Fenty names Step Afrika! Washington DC's one and only Cultural Ambassador

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arts-education

September 1, 2009

“Step Afrika! is the most requested group by schools in the Washington DC greater metropolitan area”

- Center For Neighborhood Enterprise, September 2009

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arts-education

May 21, 2010

Step Afrika! leads a workshop for seniors from Delta Towers as part of a new residency with David Pleasant

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arts-education

September 1, 2010

"Passport to Culture": Step Afrika! and the New Jersey Performing Arts Center release a Teacher's Resource Guide about The Spirit of Kwanzaa

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performances

June 15, 2011

Step Afrika! premieres 'The Migration: Reflections on Jacob Lawrence' inspired by Jacob Lawrence's Migration Series

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performances

November 12, 2011

Steppin' Out: Step Afrika! premieres 'Symphony in Step' with the Anchorage Symphony Orchestra

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performances

December 14, 2011

Step Afrika! launches the first holiday show highlighting the African American tradition of stepping

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milestones

June 21, 2012

Step Afrika!'s Home Performance Series premieres a reimagined "Nxt/Step", Remixing the Power and International Influence of Stepping with Hip Hop, Multimedia and Rhythm.

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arts-education

December 14, 2012

Combining reading, exercise, and creative movement, Step Afrika! introduces Step Afrika! Reads, a new arts education program

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arts-education

August 10, 2013

Stepping up to show what they’ve got: Summer Steps with Step Afrika! takes to a new stage at The National Building Museum

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performances

August 13, 2013

Step Afrika! introduces Step Explosion, later renamed Step Xplosion, in partnership with the Department of Parks and Recreation

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performances

May 29, 2014

Green is the New Black premiere's at Catholic University's Hartke Theatre

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performances

January 18, 2015

Strathmore presents Step Afrika!'s Step Xplosion for the first time, showcasing the art of stepping and celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

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arts-education

April 19, 2015

Step Afrika!'s International Youth Exchange Program travels to Croatia and Slovenia

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milestones

February 1, 2016

A momumental moment: Step Afrika! performs at President Obama’s Black History Month Reception

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milestones

September 24, 2016

The National Museum of African American History and Culture opens with an interactive stepping exhibit led by Step Afrika!

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performances

September 30, 2016

The National Tour of The Migration: Reflections of Jacob Lawrence begins at the University of the District of Columbia

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performances

December 9, 2016

"Swingin’ Nutcracker à la Ellington featuring Step Afrika!” premieres with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra

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performances

August 26, 2017

The first StepFest on Kingman Island and Heritage Islands takes place, spotlighting DC's least known natural areas

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milestones

November 10, 2017

The Company makes their first Off-Broadway debut with The Migration: Reflections on Jacob Lawrence at the New Victory Theatre

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performances

January 27, 2018

The U.S. Embassy and The National Center for Culture and Arts in Jordan host Step Afrika!

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performances

June 4, 2019

Arrive in anticipation, Leave in exhilaration: Step Afrika! Celebrates 25 Years with a Home Performance Series at Hartke Theater

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performances

January 26, 2020

A celebration of community, resilience, and determination, Step Afrika!'s Drumfolk premiere's at Penn State's Eisenhower Auditorium

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performances

February 28, 2020

Step Afrika! returns to Off-Broadway with a three-week run of Drumfolk at the New Victory Theater

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performances

September 9, 2020

'Stono', Step Afrika!’s first Dance Film, is released to critical acclaim

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performances

November 24, 2020

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Step Afrika! steps up for public health, releasing the "Mask It Up” Public Service Announcement (PSA)

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arts-education

November 2, 2020

The Company launches Five Days With Step Afrika!, a virtual arts education program

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performances

December 16, 2020

The premiere of the virtual 'Step Afrika!’s Magical Musical Holiday Step Show' premieres, earning more than 19,000 views

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milestones

January 19, 2021

Step Afrika! joined the historic inaugural celebration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris for the We Are One virtual event honoring America’s diversity

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performances

March 28, 2021

In honor of Women’s History Month, Step Afrika! Presents FOUR WOMEN, a groundbreaking short film series that brings the beauty and power of women center stage

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milestones

April 17, 2021

Step Afrika! lands in Lviv, Ukraine, kicking off a groundbreaking international 5-country tour

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arts-education

May 10, 2021

Step Afrika! celebrates the Divine 9 with a viral tribute

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milestones

May 11, 2021

Arena Stage announces a partnership with Step Afrika!, expanding the Company's local presence

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performances

June 19, 2021

The Company honors the Little Rock Nine in Step Afrika!’s Virtual Juneteenth Celebration

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milestones

October 1, 2021

Step Afrika! Headlines the World Expo in Dubai, United Arab Emirates

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performances

October 19, 2021

Step Afrika! makes a debut performance at the prestigious Fall for Dance Festival in New York, NY

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milestones

February 18, 2022

Step Afrika! is inducted into the National Association for Campus Activities (NACA) Hall of Fame

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performances

May 31, 2022

'Drumfolk' makes its DC premiere at the Company's new artistic home, Arena Stage

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milestones

June 28, 2022

C. Brian Williams is named a 2022 NEA National Heritage Fellow

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arts-education

July 14, 2022

The Company hosts Step Afrika!'s popular International Youth Exchange Program for Polish and Ukrainian high school students

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milestones

September 22, 2022

Step Afrika! conducts a three-city tour of Bolivia, performing for thousands across the country

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performances

January 11, 2023

Step Afrika! begins 40-city tour across the United States in partnership with IMG Artists

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milestones

April 10, 2023

“The tradition and performers embody the strength of an African-American experience. The art form is an expression of excellence, discipline, joy, resilience and triumph. Mr. Williams is such an important steward of this art form and tradition, honoring its origins and creating the space and conditions for its preservation and evolution.”

- NEA Chair, Dr. Maria Rosario Jackson, April 2023

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milestones

June 14, 2023

Step Afrika! performs at the first-ever Juneteenth Celebration at the White House

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performances

June 19, 2023

'The Movement', an epic tribute to Black Lives Matter and the domino effect of activism, makes its DMV debut at Strathmore

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arts-education

July 31, 2023

Summer Steps with Step Afrika! returns, making a new home at Arena Stage

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milestones

January 31, 2024

Step Afrika! celebrates 30 Years of global influence with the unveiling a dynamic 30th anniversary timeline

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Be A Part of Our History

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. To share your Step Afrika! story, visit stepafrika.org/about/. Step Afrika!'s 30th Anniversary Timeline is made possible by the generous funding of Bloomberg Philanthropies, with additional support from the Mellon Foundation and the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities.

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