The Power of Movement: The Body as an Instrument Against Oppression


The production of Drumfolk was performed by the professional organization Step Afrika! at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts in the Colwell Playhouse on February 7th, 2020. Drumfolk is a stepping performance that highlights the battles of Africans throughout American history. 

By Elena Grantcharski

Ticket Stub for the Friday performance of Drumfolk

In my opinion, the entire point of Drumfolk was the concept of using your body as an instrument. One of the most powerful parts of the performance for me was when they narrated that, 'They took our drums, but they could not stop the beat.' It showed the power of making something out of nothing. They no longer had their drums, so they had to use their bodies. Most of the performance was stepping and beatboxing and it shows how they would not let themselves be oppressed. In a literal sense, they were slaves; but in their mind they would never consider themselves as such. The power of the mind, the strength of their will, and the expression in their movements was very apparent in this performance. Dancing amazes me because of how accurately dancers can express their feelings just by moving their bodies. 

Stage setup for the performance

The sense of community was very well represented in the performance. There was hardly a moment when there was only one dancer on the stage, and usually during the performance other dancers would eventually join. Community was also well represented by the rebels who would dance together in a line. They were holding on to each other showing their unity. It metaphorically represented how the Stono Rebellion would not be possible if the slaves were not as unified as they were. I also think it was powerful how more and more dancers got on stage during the performance. The program mentions how the rebellion went from 20 to 100 rebels so I think it was very accurate how the performance slowly escalated.

Picture representing the power of the emotive dancers

The ideas of resistance were a constant theme throughout the performance. The ongoing motif of 'they could not stop the beat'' is a testament to that. The use of their bodies instead of drums is also a good representation of resistance. It does not matter that their drums and freedom was taken away because they were able to use their bodies and voices to express themselves freely. They made the best out of what they were left with. To me, this is a huge sign of the strength that African Americans have exhibited all throughout history. The idea of freedom was also represented throughout the performance because their unity and dance moves showed their will to be free and their refusal for the oppressors to oppress them.'

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