Step Afrika! performs ‘Magical Musical Holiday Step Show’ at Arena Stage

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews Step Afrika at Arena Stage (Part 1)

Over the summer, Step Afrika! launched an exciting new partnership with Arena Stage.

This month, it performs its “Magical Musical Holiday Step Show” from Dec. 9 to 18 in D.C.

“This show is one of my favorite shows we’ve ever created,” Founder C. Brian Williams told WTOP. “It’s really about celebrating the holidays in a unique, special way. This holiday show we’ve been doing for over 10 years. … The place I’ve always wanted to bring this performance was in the round at Arena Stage in the Fichandler, so it’s a dream come true.”

Unlike a typical Arena Stage performance where you sit in the audience and watch the actors, this show actually invites you down on stage to participate in the dancing.

“The dance floor is a place that we invite the entire community to come out and join us,” Williams said. “We have a DJ, we call him DJ Nutcracker, he is on the ones and twos, playing all of your favorite holiday music and he does something called ‘The Nutcracker Slide’ where we invite the audience to come down and learn how to do a special dance.”

In addition to the DJ, you’ll also see Step Afrika! making music with their bodies for a dazzling 70-minute performance danced straight through with no intermission.

“This is the first holiday show in the world that’s centered around the African American tradition of stepping,” Williams said. “You’ll see us making music with our hands, our feet, our voices and our bodies, but we’ll have a DJ there just to kind of take us to a different space, so sometimes we’ll be the music and sometimes we’ll be dancing to the music.”

Make sure you bring your kids to see some special winter critters.

“We have our friends from the Arctic Kingdom there: Popper the Penguin and Polo the Polar Bear,” Williams said. “These are our friends. They come and join us every year for the holiday show. At this point, they’re pretty good steppers, but they’re still learning, so they learn how to step throughout the show along with the audience.”

Founded in 1994, Step Afrika! is the first professional company dedicated to the tradition of stepping. Not only will you become more cultured, you’ll get into the holiday spirit, get some exercise and get some energy out of your system in the best possible way.

“What we always say is: Who wants to sit still and be quiet for the holidays?” Williams said. “We want to get out and have some fun and be with our families and be with our with friends. That’s the kind of environment that Step Afrika! is creating here. … We even have little special gifts for the audience members to help them make music with us.”

Find more information here.

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews Step Afrika at Arena Stage (Part 2)

Listen to our full conversation here.

Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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