STEP AFRIKA! Presents “Stono" during Black History Month

January 20, 2021

Step Afrika group performing dance on stage

STEP AFRIKA!’s “Stono” honors” the spirit of peaceful resistance and activism that remains a critical part of American freedom. During Black History Month, Hudson Valley Community College’s Cultural Affairs program offers an extended screening opportunity to the public from Feb. 1 through 14. Information to gain free access to the 33-minute film is available at

On Sept. 9, 1739, an insurrection of enslaved Africans took place in South Carolina on the banks of the Stono River. Twenty Africans marched south toward a promised freedom in Spanish Florida, waving flags, beating drums, and shouting “liberty!” This extraordinary act of rebellion against British rule in Colonial America predates the Boston Tea Party of 1773. Although the Stono Rebellion was suppressed, this little-known event in American history forever changed African- American life and culture. When Africans lost the right to use their drums under The Negro Act of 1740, they began to use their bodies as percussive instruments. Those who practiced this new mode of survival and activism earned the name of “Drumfolk.” Their percussive movement gave rise to some of Black culture’s most distinctive art forms, including stepping, tap, hambone and the ring shout. (Hambone or Juba Dance involves stomping, as well as slapping and patting the arms, legs, chest, and cheeks. The Ring Shout is a transcendent religious ritual – shuffling, stomping and shouting while moving in a circle.)

STEP AFRIKA! combines African and modern dance to perpetuate the style known as stepping – a high-energy art form, punctuated with claps, kicks, stomps and chants. Based in Washington D.C., STEP AFRIKA! tours extensively with its vast repertoire and arts-in-education programs that use stepping to emphasize teamwork, discipline and commitment, engaging young people and inspiring them to make positive choices. STEP AFRIKA! performed at the Hudson Valley in 2013 and 2017, and is returning (virtually) due to popular demand.

Upcoming Spring 2021 cultural events – all virtual and free to the public -- include noted speakers Dorothy Butler Gilliam, trailblazing journalist, on Thursday, Feb. 4 at noon, and Abby Wambach, soccer legend and activist, on Thursday, March 4 at 7 p.m. Both programs will include audience Q&A. The Finger Lakes Guitar Quartet performs Thursday, April 8 at noon.

Visit for a full schedule of Spring 2021 cultural events, including the Teaching Gallery exhibits and Voices: A Library Lecture Series. Please email for more information.

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