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Step Afrika!’s Juneteenth performance

This weekend, D.C. dance company Step Afrika! was meant to be onstage, performing its new show Drumfolk at the University of the District of Columbia’s Theater of the Arts. The piece’s inspiration is the 1739 Stono Rebellion, where enslaved people rose up against their captors in what is now South Carolina, and its fallout. After the rebellion, in addition to curtailing enslaved Africans’ rights to movement, education, and assembly, colonial rulers banned the use of drums. “Ever since that moment, and this is something we’ve been studying for years at Step Afrika!, Africans began to use their body as the drum,” C. Brian Williams, Step Afrika!’s founder and executive director, explained in a promotional video. Like most cultural events in mid-2020, Drumfolk’s post-March engagements were canceled, but the show must go on. In its place, the company is celebrating Juneteenth with a new virtual program that will be streamed on the evening of June 19. It’s been experimenting with online content during the pandemic, like a remote performance put together from six individual videos at the end of May. The Juneteenth engagement promises to be made up of performances filmed in D.C., from the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial to the newly christened Black Lives Matter Plaza, that honor “the rhythm, spirituality and resistance of the African American community through dance and song.” The performance will stream on Facebook and Youtube on June 19 at 8 p.m. Registration is available at eventbrite.com. Free; donations encouraged. —Emma Sarappo