“Oh shit, I’m going to be late,” I scream in my head as I’m dashing down
Having already missed the chance to see Mikhail Baryshnikov (sp?), and many other jazz performances, I stuck with Step Afrika!, in conglomeration with the Chicago Human Rhythm Project. Not my first choice, but I was determined to enjoy it and learn something from the dance type.
I rush in and get a ticket, the man at the box office smiling, although whether it was because I particularly looked good, or because he could tell I was relieved to be able to buy a ticket. The ushers were letting people in, in between the performances. We could hear Michael Jackson echoing from the inside of the theater, so only the first performance by the drill team had begun. Based on the amount of
A big group of black women were in front of me, also just having gotten to the box office. We were ushered in, and told to take the seats furthest away, but closest towards the top balcony. I had bought the cheapest tickets, so I wasn’t expecting a good seat. However, this was still a good view. The
A quick glance around, and you could see a definite class difference in the audience. I was in with the super excited black women (and some men, along with their dates), while the majority of the “elite” white men and women were sitting with their children towards the front. I reflected on Shakespeare’s time and how the poorest of people got penny tickets to stand toward the front; yet in the case in this theater, the blacks were pushed to the back of the theater like a city bus in
After the Irish Dancers left the stage, following a very cute little girl’s solo at about the age of 5, many of the women sitting by me either completely left the theater, or went for a closer seat. I look at the ticket I had purchased, and glanced over to see that someone else was sitting in my seat. “Oh well,” I thought and came back to the seat that I sat at for the first portion. Step Afrika! was about to perform soon. I noticed that I was in a row to myself, and all of my cheering would be met by silence around me. I didn’t care!
The dancers took us on a journey through a variety of step dances. They began with a sort of everyday, contemporary street dance style, and I felt like it was a watered down version of the dancing that might go on in the South Side of Chicago, or as they were basing it off of,
They continued to give us a tour of what it was like for stepping fraternities and sororities. Go figure that my experience at Loyola didn’t teach me where the Greek system had provided an outlet for African- American stepping. Then they danced in a setting prompted by the diamond mines in
Onward and upward, to the last segment: tap. My dad had rented a bunch of videos from the library after we had learned of Gregory Hines’ death when I was a kid. “You just need to know about talent,” he told me, and I saw his incredible dance style that is rivaled by everyone in the tap industry. The solo artist in this piece wanted everyone to participate, and soon we were all snapping with him. I got to snap! I’ve watched West Side Story over and over, and snapping during a dance is a strange fascination that I have. Probably also reminds me of a
The group finally got together and ended with a big tapping group, ending the performance. I walked away, thinking “wait…that’s it?” I wanted to keep watching, and wanted to hit myself for the times that I had missed out on other performances. I would say that I have a new appreciation for this type of dance, but sadly I predict that I’ll forget all about it, and my next performance will be that of another Anglo-Saxon performance. But I think I’ll at least try to go to something else in the future. At the very least, I predict that I’ll show my kids some tapes of African dance one day, likewise to teach them what talent really is.