The Editorially Independent Voice of The University of Akron

The Buchtelite

The Editorially Independent Voice of The University of Akron

The Buchtelite

The Editorially Independent Voice of The University of Akron

The Buchtelite

Graphic courtesy of Liv Ream; movie flyer from IMDB
In defense of Skinamarink
By Liv Ream, Arts and Entertainment Editor • October 1, 2023
Alternative Spring Break 2023 volunteers in Washington, D.C. Courtesy of Natalie Mowad.
Applications open for Akron’s 2024 Alternative Spring Break
By Taylor Lorence, Correspondent • October 1, 2023
The Northern Cheyenne tribe and community walking the ancient Portage Path from Portage Path CLC to the John Brown Home during a previous years First Peoples Day event. Photo courtesy of Portage Path Collaborative.
UA Holds events in celebration of North American First People’s Day   
By Shananne Lewis, Online Editor • September 28, 2023
White swan on water during daytime photo - Free Uk Image on Unsplash
The Swan's Rapture: a poem
By Emily Price, editor in chief • September 27, 2023
Desperately Seeking an Amazon Fighter, sculpture by Kimberly Chapman
"Easy Prey" art exhibit on display at Myers School of Art
By Taylor Lorence, Reporter, Secretary • September 21, 2023
“On the left, there’s me at work! I received the New Student Orientation “Gold Standard” award alongside 
and at the same time as my friend Gillian.”
Courtesy of Connor VanMaele
Fall 2023 Print Edition: Going the Distance
By Connor VanMaele, Correspondent • September 19, 2023
L to R: Steve Horner, Heather Barhorst, Haley Kuczynski, Shawna Blankenship, Brynley Harris, Jessie Redwine at the Pop-Up Pantry. Image Courtesy of ZipAssist.
ZipAssist Holds Community Resource Fair Tuesday, September 19 from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the SU 2nd Floor
By Shananne Lewis, Correspondent • September 18, 2023
Film critic Liv Ream and friend pose for photo (Image via Liv Ream)
My Barbie experience
By Liv Ream, Film Critic • September 17, 2023

Afrika steps onto our stage

Rachel Brown

This past Thursday, the members of Step Afrika visited The University of Akron for an upbeat and lively performance at EJ Thomas Hall. Aside from entertainment, the company provided the audience with not just an energetic, artistic show, but also a lesson on African culture and traditional step-dancing.

Step dancing, or stepping, is a form of dance in which the human body is used as an instrument, involving clapping, footsteps and chants. Stepping began in the early 1900s in African American fraternities and sororities; however, since then, it has become increasingly popular among young people of all ethnic backgrounds. 

Step Afrika serves as the first professional stepping company, formed in 1994 in Washington D.C. According to, Step Afrika has traveled not just in our country, but in Europe, South America, Africa and Asia as well. In the U.S., they tour from Maine to Mississippi annually, where they perform at college campuses, and have even hit the White House and stages in New York City.

Thursday night’s show was anything but an ordinary performing arts extravaganza. The performers did not rely on pre-set music or recordings for assistance. In fact, the only sound generated to the audience was through their own word of mouth through mantras, stomping and clapping, and original beats using Djembe drums.

Aside from the theatrical elements, the audience can pick up on other ways African culture is infused into the show.

“The spirit of community is really important. Our organization was born as a cultural exchange, which we feel opens doors, so we encourage audience participation,” said Jakari Sherman, the artistic director.

In the first 10 minutes, there was already a handful of people, ranging from elementary-age youngsters to college-age students, on the stage learning basic fundamentals of the art. 

The audience watched as the performers instructed the volunteers, in a humorous yet patient manner, how to perform these unfamiliar dance moves.

The audience was also given a brief history lesson on the origins of stepping through a skit-like act. The skit demonstrated that the art of stepping traces back to South Africa, where it is sometimes called gumboot dancing. According to, gumboot dancing refers to wearing Wellington-style boots, which were the only suitable footwear for the African American workers in gold mines. The miners wore bells on their boots to communicate and signal with one another, as there was a strict no-talking rule in the harsh mines.

Another characteristic that made this performance so moving to watch was the simplicity of the visual appearance of the stage. There were no dramatic lights, props, costumes or make-up because they were not needed to make the performance successful. To glamorize African stepping would contradict what the organization is really about and the struggle of their ancestors. In presenting their show in this raw form, it illustrates to the audience that they are truly authentic step-dancers who are nothing but passionate for what they do.

“It was a great show! It was very funny, enlightening, and surprisingly educational too,” said attendee Valerie Boone.

Step Afrika is something that everyone should experience at least once. The combination of creative dance with storytelling and constant audience participation make for a show that will surely leave audience members amazed and with a newfound knowledge of a culturally rich group of people.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All comments that are well-informed, civil and relevant to the story are welcome. To leave a comment, please provide your name and email address. The Editorial Board reserves to right to remove any comment that is submitted under false pretenses or includes personal attacks, libel, hate speech, profanity, spam or inaccurate/misleading information. All comments are screened and are generally approved unless they are found to be found in violation of these standards. Readers who notice comments that appear to violate these standards are encouraged to contact the Online Editor at [email protected].
All The Buchtelite Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *