Wade with Step Afrika!

C. Brian Williams, founder and director of Step Afrika!, guest blogs about the dance company’s new performance series inspired by Jacob Lawrence’s The Migration Series. Read his first post here

Step Afrika! dancers perform.

Six days away from opening night . . . and as any performing or visual artist knows, every second is absolutely critical.  The amount of detail that has to come together for any successful production can be overwhelming and for this particular show by Step Afrika!—The Migration: Reflections on Jacob Lawrence—we are pulling out all stops.

We have a set designer, costume designers, lighting designers, scenic artists, master electricians, stage manager, sound designers, and, of course, 15 multi-talented artists.  It’s a lot to manage, and this will be the biggest Step Afrika! production in our 17-year history of performance and community outreach worldwide.

Two great things already happened today that will help me get through a very long week at the theater:

First, I finally got the time to read the amazing article printed in the Washington Post on Sunday, June 6, 2011.  DeNeen Brown, feature writer for the Post, not only created a wonderful story but perfectly captured a conversation between myself, Dorothy Kosinski, Elsa Smithgall, and several Step Afrika! artists.  The promise of this collaboration sounded great on paper . . . but will look even better on stage.

Second, my dear friend Nsaye Barnwell from Grammy-award winning ensemble Sweet Honey in the Rock stopped by the studios to work with the artists.  She offered a nice training for our “choir” of singing dancers as they prepare for an important piece in this production simply titled “Wade.”  “Wade” is a classic Step Afrika! work choreographed over 10 years ago that has not been seen in D.C. for some time.  In 2007, we actually performed this piece in collaboration with Sweet Honey in the Rock to sold out audiences at the Atlas Performing Arts Center and the Warner Theater.   Check out some clips from the rehearsal (that’s me teaching Sweet Honey how to step!) and witness how the audience responds later in the clip.  Be sure to turn up the volume!!

The goal of “Wade” is to transform the theater into one community where everyone is involved with what’s happening on stage.  So if you are coming to the performances June 15-26, bring your tambourine and free, sharing spirit.  I promise, you won’t be disappointed . . .