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KNOXVILLE — The first professional dance company dedicated to stepping will demonstrate the history of the art form on Feb. 27 on the University of Tennessee campus.

Sponsored by the Black Cultural Programming Committee, the program will begin at 7 p.m. in the Carolyn P. Brown Memorial University Center Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public. Stepping is a dance form in which the body is used as an instrument to create intricate rhythms and sounds through a combination of footsteps, claps and spoken word.

Each year, Washington D.C.-based Step Afrika completes a nationwide tour of colleges and universities and conducts masters-in-training programs for organizations around the world. Their performances promote the use of stepping as an educational tool advocating themes such as teamwork, academic achievement and cross-cultural understanding.

The group also serves as a cultural ambassador for the United States and is an extension of the Soweto Dance Theater in South Africa. Step Afrika works closely with the company to host the International Cultural Festival each year in Johannesburg, uniting artists from around the world in dialogue and dance performance.

Stepping is prevalent among black Greek letter organizations, but it origins can be found in gumboot-dancing Africa and in the song and dance rituals of African American sororities and fraternities in the early 1900s.

Tiara Butler (865-974-4750)
Julius Gunn (865-974-4750)
Beth Gladden (865-974-9008)