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

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On August 24, 2002, Footworks Percussive Dance Ensemble & Step Afrika! invited audiences to the premiere of a new collaborative show. SoleMates featured traditions associated with white and black communities in America while tracing the roots of these connected forms in African dance, Irish dance, and more.


Footworks Musical Director Mark Schatz brought together a great band featuring Jon Glik on the fiddle in an evening of original & traditional music ranging from the blues to bluegrass. Hoofer Kelly Isaacs and percussionists Rowan Corbett and Medoune Yacine Gueye also made appearances.


Director’s Notes

Written by C. Brian Williams for the SoleMates Program, premiered on August 24, 2002.


CROSS-CULTURAL collaboration is a concept in which Step Afrika! deeply believes. For the past eight years, the company has focused its efforts largely on bridging the gaps between Africans and African-Americans, using dance as a foundation upon which to explore distinct cultures and traditions. Our maxim, “People that dance together can work together“, has allowed us to form long-lasting relationships with the people of southern Africa that inspire Step Afrika’s work year round.


This evening’s production of SoleMates, with our new collaborative partner, Footworks, provides a similar effect. Drawing our attention to cultural traditions found closer to home, Step Afrika! now seeks to understand more about its partners in the daily practice of American life than with communities thousands of miles away. American culture is an assembly of experiences drawing from folks in practically every corner of the globe. Our food comes from the pots of many kitchens; our music from the songs of disparate communities; and our dances from the feet of many tribes. SoleMates is our attempt to mix things up even further and emerge from the process with a beautiful picture of true American diversity.


Throughout the endless rehearsals and meetings, Step Afrika! has learned much about the cultures that created Irish step dancing, Appalachian bluegrass, and contemporary clogging. And by learning these dance traditions we have enjoyed and connected with the dancers who preserve them. We have received an important education in the cultural makeup of our country- our tremendous similarities and our differences. I hope you will enjoy the process, as well as the performance, of SoleMates tonight.


We look forward to your emails, comments, and donations (both groups are non-profits, you know!) as we continue on the path of artistic development and exchange. Thanks so much for coming! There’s a lot more to come….



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 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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