D Kevin McNeirLifestyle

Step Afrika! Spectacular in 25th Season Opening

Md. Youth, Dem Raider Boyz Step Squad, Set Tone

If I had any doubts that Step Afrika! and the young, all-male step team from Greenbelt (Md.), Dem Raider Boyz (DRB) Step Squad, could pull off a 90-minute performance, without intermission, and maintain my undivided attention, those concerns would be quickly dashed.

The two step groups brought creativity, dance prowess, pulsating precision and seamless teamwork to the stage on Sunday, Jan. 20 at the Music Center at Strathmore, much to the delight of a sold-out audience.

In many ways, I felt myself taken back to my days as an undergraduate at the University of Michigan where I also learned the art of stepping as a pledge and then brother of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. And I can attest that while stepping may appear to be simple to do with movements that take little or no thought, preparation or practice, such notions couldn’t be further from the truth.

You could see the sweat pouring off of the dancers and their muscles stretching to complete the actions as they moved in perfect synchronization and machine-like accuracy the way the inner gears of a grandfather clock engage with one another. As for Step Afrika!, they were particularly outstanding in two of my favorite pieces, “Umngane,” kept on track by a drummer of unbelievable ability and “The Wade Suite,” hauntingly evocative of Alvin Ailey’s “Revelations,” albeit with the flair and intricacies of stepping.

Step sensations Dem Raider Boyz Step Squad (Courtesy of Dem Raider Boyz)
Step sensations Dem Raider Boyz Step Squad (Courtesy of Dem Raider Boyz)

From the opening act, DRB, who made fun of the cable channel Netflix with their own creative and high-energy version of a different “channel,” “Stepflix,” to the featured performers for the evening, each step sequence brought with it a theme, a message or a story that was well-conceived and entertaining.

I even felt like bounding up the stairs, rushing from behind the curtains and joining those brothers and sisters into step history. Thank goodness I just as quickly came to my senses.

From start to finish, the performances were stellar, sensational and sizzling.

I cannot wait for the next installment.

Hats off to C. Brian Williams, Mfoniso Akpan and those who train and mentor the young men of DRB.

D. Kevin McNeir – Senior Editor

Dominic Kevin McNeir is an award-winning journalist with more than 25 years of service for the Black Press (NNPA). Prior to moving East to assist his aging parents, the native Detroiter engineered a transformation of The Miami Times resulting in its being named the NNPA’s “Publication of the Year” in 2011 – just one of several dozen industry-related awards he’s earned in his career. He currently serves as senior editor for The Washington Informer. There, in the heart of the U.S. Capitol, he displays a keen insight for developing front-page news as it unfolds within the greater Washington area, capturing the crucial facts and facets of today’s intriguing, political arena. He has degrees from The University of Michigan, Emory University and Princeton Theological Seminary. In 2020, he received First Place for Weekly Newspaper, Commentary & Criticism, Society of Professional Journalists, Washington, D.C. Pro Chapter. Learn more about him at www.dkevinmcneir.com, Facebook – Kevin McNeir, Twitter - @mcneirdk, Linkedin – D. Kevin McNeir or email: mcneirdk@washingtoninformer.com.

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