Drumfolk is a highly impressive performance that brought by Step Afrika, the world’s first professional company dedicated to the tradition of steeping. Performers will use their own bodies as an instrument to create their own beat. The Drumfolk was performed on February 6th at Colwell Playhouse
Written by Bingchen Li
Bodies as instruments
Drumfolk brought the spirit and energy to everyone in the show. The reason why performers use their own bodies as an instrument is because of the banning of the drum in 1740. We all know that we have a really dark and grieved history back to that uncivilized time. African Americans cannot use drums because of discrimination. However, as Dr. David said 'They took the drums away' but they could not stop the beat.' Even they physically could not play the drum, but they could steeping!
'One of the most exciting dance forms created in the 21st century'–Steeping
Performers clap, snap and stamp to compose their own rhythms. A rhythm that the audience could feel their complex emotions. Firstly, I could feel that American Americans want to express their words by stepping. They lost the right to play drums, but they have the right to express their spirit through the beat. Secondly, I could feel the solidarity among the group. They all clap and snap at the same beat and that needs both practice and harmony.
Sense of community
Considering the historical reason behind the stepping, we can understand that stepping performers are highly connected, which means they have a sense of community. African Americans were under unfair discrimination during the early 20 century, so they had to closely connect to others to fight back and to rebel. At the very beginning of the performance, we can see that there is a platform on the stage. It looks like a market in my view, and people gathered and chatted with others. With the coordinating stepping dance and the drumbeat, all the performers are in the same tune– They swing and dance in the same beat and rhythm.
Also, one thing that worth to be mentioned is the interaction between performers and the audiences. During the show, there are several times they interact with audiences'the audience claps with the command from a performer. It is also a way that the performance builds a sense of community. We, all the people in the hall, are a community.
Resistance and freedom
The idea of freedom is being exposed throughout the whole performance. Firstly, performers express resistance by their movement. One act in the show is that a man stamped the ground angrily'because he received unfair treatment so-called discrimination, which is a really common phenomenon at that time. Besides the dance, they also express resistance with spoken words. Tons of words are concentrated on this short but powerful sentence: “we want to be free”
By the way, all the performers are really professional, as we can see in the show, the bracelet came off from a performer accidentally when he was dancing. But he showed his professional and rescued the show by kicking it to a corner of the stage and dance like nothing happened.
All in all, this is a really impressive performance, I highly recommend you to watch it with your family or friends.