Step Afrika! Celebrates 30 Years of Global Influence: Unveiling a Dynamic 30th Anniversary Timeline, Exclusive Two-Week Residency in South Africa, and the Highly-Anticipated Return of The Migration: Reflections on Jacob Lawrence

(New York, NY) February 1, 2024 – Renowned African American arts organization and premier Dance Company Step Afrika! announces the commemoration of its milestone 30th anniversary season from August 2023 to July 2025. Established by Houston native and Howard University graduate C. Brian Williams, Step Afrika! has become a pioneering global influence in African American dance. It holds the distinction of being the first company exclusively dedicated to the art of stepping and is Washington, DC’s largest African American arts organization.

Step Afrika! embarked on a journey to offer a unique opportunity to preserve and revolutionize the legacy of stepping for future generations without precedents, blueprints, or models. Before Step Afrika’s establishment, stepping was confined to commercial television and American college campuses. Since then, the company has solidified its position as the leading global stepping powerhouse, showcasing the art form on eminent stages across the United States and captivating audiences in over 60 countries. Step Afrika! made history as the first company to introduce the practice of men and women stepping together, disrupting traditional gender roles and actively promoting equity within this niche of the performing arts.

“As we celebrate this milestone, we foresee sustained administrative growth, the enhancement of arts education programming in our beloved Washington, DC, and additional benefits for the 18 full-time dancers who passionately carry forth this remarkable tradition across the globe. Truly grateful for our dedicated Board of Directors and radical support from the Mellon Foundation and Bloomberg Philanthropies during and beyond our 30th Anniversary season.”Lamar Lovelace, Executive Director, Step Afrika!

Kicking off Black History Month 2024, Step Afrika! has partnered with Bloomberg Philanthropies to debut Step Afrika!’s Interactive 30th Anniversary Timeline, commemorating the organization’s 30-year history. With the support of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Digital Accelerator for Arts and Culture, the ambition of this partnership is to help arts organizations stabilize and thrive in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic through strategic improvements to technological structures. The Digital Accelerator will create a meaningful opportunity for key stakeholders to learn and engage with Step Afrika’s unique history, increase fundraising, and drive revenue, while concurrently highlighting its artistic and programmatic milestones.


The Mellon Foundation, known for its unwavering support of the arts and humanities, has made a substantial commitment to Step Afrika! This multi-year grant not only provides vital resources but also addresses the organization’s programmatic and infrastructural needs. By scaling up resources and enhancing its administrative support network, Step Afrika! is now well-equipped to meet growing program demands, diversify its artistic portfolio, and strategically fill staffing gaps in both administrative and artistic roles. This transformative grant empowers Step Afrika! to continue its impactful work with renewed strength and expanded capabilities.

“Step Afrika!’s work bringing stepping into the American theater and around the world has been vital to the preservation, appreciation, and evolution of this important art form. Their fluidity in uniting traditional stepping with untold stories of the African American experience is a privilege to witness. We are thrilled to be long-term funding partners of Step Afrika! and are committed to supporting their success.” – Emil Kang, Program Director for Arts and Culture at the Mellon Foundation


Additional 30th Anniversary programming will include:

June 2024: The Migration: Reflections on Jacob Lawrence
After a triumphant Off Broadway run in 2017, Step Afrika! is gearing up for a six-week run featuring over 40 performances of their iconic show, “The Migration: Reflections on Jacob Lawrence” in Washington, DC at Arena Stage. “The Migration: Reflections on Jacob Lawrence” delves into the profound narrative of millions of African Americans who migrated from the rural South to the industrial North in the 1900s, seeking refuge from Jim Crow laws, racial oppression, and lynchings. Drawing inspiration from Jacob Lawrence’s iconic 60-panel masterpiece, “The Migration Series” (1940-41), the performance promises a sensory feast, blending pulsating rhythms and visually stunning movement to transport audiences back to the heart of this transformative era. Step Afrika!’s unique interpretation of Lawrence’s work promises to deliver an unforgettable experience, seamlessly intertwining art, history, and culture on stage.

August 2024: 30th Anniversary Tour of Southern Africa
In August 2024, Step Afrika! celebrates its 30th anniversary and South Africa’s independence with a two-week tour that re-engages the company’s unique origin story. This journey includes artistic collaboration, cross-cultural workshops, and performances in Johannesburg, particularly in Soweto where the Step Afrika! International Cultural Festival originated in December 1994. Each performance will showcase dance works from the United States alongside three newly commissioned pieces by South African artists. This Anniversary performance highlights the profound connections between South African and American art, transcending cultural boundaries to unite people through the universal language of dance and rhythm.

February 2025: Step Afrika! Step Classic
The Step Afrika! Step Classic is a feature-length step show where step teams nationwide compete for cash prizes, uniting the nation’s best Diving Nine step teams. This unique event, presented in the Washington Metropolitan area, includes live performances from Step Afrika!, Washington, D.C. celebrities, and musicians. Beyond the stage, the project aims to elevate D.C. as a hub for stepping, establishing an annual tradition that grows with each passing year. More than just a show, it’s a movement showcasing the power of stepping to inspire, connect, and create lasting legacies.


About Step Afrika!

Step Afrika!, the world’s first professional Company dedicated to the African American tradition of stepping, was founded in December 1994, by C. Brian Williams. Williams was an accomplished stepper who recognized the connections between stepping and African percussive traditions. The creation of Step Afrika! in partnership with South African and American artists, allowed Williams to explore this connection between stepping and African percussive traditions. Stepping, a percussive dance form, originated within African American fraternities and sororities on US college campuses in the early 1900’s. This unique art form combines elements such as stomping, clapping, and spoken word chants or songs, often involving intricate rhythms and synchronized movements. These movements are choreographed and feature detailed footwork, handclaps, and body percussion. Over time, stepping has transcended its collegiate origins, capturing the hearts of a wider audience. It has evolved into a recognized professional art form and a competitive activity, with national and international competitions as regular highlights. In this evolutionary journey, Step Afrika! has played a pioneering role, elevating stepping from college campuses to grand stages of the world.

Step Afrika!’s mission is to preserve, expand, and promote an appreciation for stepping through professional performances and to educate, motivate, and inspire young people in and out of school through arts education programs that emphasize teamwork, commitment, and discipline Today, Step Afrika! honors that mission with a touring Company of 18 full-time artists, recognized worldwide for its engaging performances and innovative arts education programs. The company is one of the top 10 U.S. African American dance companies and D.C.’s largest African American arts organization.

The Company’s 30-year history of work has received local and national recognition. In 2022, Step Afrika!’s Founder and Executive Producer, C. Brian Williams, was named a National Heritage Fellow by the National Endowment for the Arts. This lifetime achievement award, regarded as the nation’s highest honor in the folk and traditional arts, recognizes Brian’s thirty-year contribution to promoting and expanding the African American tradition of stepping across the world. Additionally, Step Afrika! has earned Mayor’s Arts Awards for Outstanding Contribution to Arts Education (2005), Innovation in the Arts (2008), Excellence in an Artistic Discipline (2012), and Excellence in Performing Arts (2023). In 2016, the Company headlined President Barack Obama’s Black History Month Reception at The White House, and in 2023, Step Afrika! returned to the White House to perform at its very first Juneteenth Celebration Concert. Thousands learn to step with Step Afrika! each year as part of the world’s first virtual stepping interactive at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.


For Media Inquiries:

Cassandre Brissot,
Edwin Tetteh Jr,