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The 1739 Stono Rebellion was the largest uprising of enslaved people during British colonial rule in North America, but has been virtually ignored save for a few documentaries and passing references in textbooks. Step Afrika!, a nonprofit dance company based in D.C. and focused on step dancing, brings the story to life with Stono, a feature-length performance that will premiere virtually on Sept. 9, the rebellion’s 281st anniversary. Step Afrika! celebrates the Stono Rebellion as one of the first cries for true liberty from colonial rule in North America, predating the American Revolution by 36 years. Twenty enslaved Africans gathered at the Stono River in South Carolina with plans to march south to Spanish Florida. With a banner that read “Liberty,” they advanced through the state, gaining as many as 70 new recruits and attacking plantations before the uprising was brutally suppressed by local militia units. Step Afrika! takes a deeper look at the impact of the Stono Rebellion, especially its role in African American music, culture, and dance. In response to the insurrection, the colonial government of South Carolina passed the Negro Act of 1740, which forbid enslaved Africans from moving abroad, earning money, assembling, writing, and, as Step Afrika! notes, practicing their right to use traditional drums. Yet African Americans never stopped making music and expressing themselves, and eventually their percussive expression developed into art forms like tap, hambone, and stepping. Step Afrika! seeks to honor this act of radical freedom and resistance in Stono, which will be followed by a live panel discussion on how the Stono Rebellion impacts the present day. The performance begins at 8 p.m. on Sept. 9 on YouTube and Facebook Live. Registration is available at eventbrite.com. Free. —Tristan Jung
20th Annual Yellow Barn Instructor Exhibition
Now in its 20th year, Glen Echo Park’s Yellow Barn Studio’s annual instructor exhibit spotlights the talent and versatility of its art teachers. Despite the variety, the exhibit feels anything but miscellaneous. The works are studies and expressions of craft and passion, each displaying the instructor’s personal style and expertise. On a virtual walkabout of the gallery, you’ll find Mariana Kastrinakis’ “Our Humanity,” a careful collage of hand-embellished papers in swampy colors overlaying a darkened, unidentifiable silhouette. The reflective hues seem to suggest that the figure could be anyone; aren’t we all the quilted combination of our experiences? Cast your eyes next on the more corporeal figures of Maud Taber-Thomas’ “A Matter of Perspective.” Monochromatic square tiling frames the sweet familial scene. The sun-faded hues reach back in time, and the world atlas lingering above the musical couple suggests a fragile sense of temporality. Equally pensive is Marcia Klioze’s “Cinderella,” a heartbreaking yet resilient portrait of a woman considering her fortune. She appears worn with life but dons a hopeful daisy yellow dress, tattered only at its edges. A peony slipper winks from below her seat, as if to promise, “One day.” Gavin Glakas’ “Austin” evokes the same sense of loneliness as a retro auto shop quivers under the gaze of a tangerine setting sun. And in brighter endings, Vian Borchert’s abstract “BlueWaves” evokes some wide expanse and fascinating unknown in oceanic, cerulean hues. The exhibition is available at glenechopark.org. Free. —Emma Francois