The Cultural Attractions Committee is hosting an event to showcase the talents of the professional dance company, Step Afrika!
The dance group is currently on a 50-city college tour and will be stopping in Knoxville for UT students on Jan. 30 at the Bijou Theatre. Sean Wright, the CAC's press secretary and senior in history, said that the committee was initially drawn to the dance company by research on their previous performances.
"We looked at some of their videos from their previous events and we were really impressed with what we say," Wright said. "It's really energetic and really exciting and has some traditional step dancing with some modern things so we thought that it'd be something great that the students at UT and the people of the Knoxville community could really enjoy."
Originally from Washington, D.C., Step Afrika! is the city's first and only Cultural Ambassador who is presented to audiences around the country and around the world. Their stop in Knoxville is a part of their goal to encourage teamwork, broaden education and exemplify themes of acceptance of different cultures.
Kathryn Mcbride, freshman in biology, attended the WannaBeatles event hosted by the CAC last semester. Mcbride said that because of how well that event went, she has no doubt that Step Afrika! will be successful.
"Since this event combines music and dancing, it will be different from the other events I've attended, but in a good way," Mcbride said. "The CAC does a great job of showcasing events that are not only entertaining, but promote diversity and different cultural experiences as well."
The African-American fraternity Phi Beta Sigma will be opening for Step Afrika!. Also performing a dance routine, Wright said the fraternity will add more to the night's events.
"We really were looking for a good dance group that we thought had a good connection here on campus and obviously by having some traditional African-American fraternities, stepping is a big part of their culture and a big part of African-American culture in general so we thought that was something that was a part of this community," Wright said.
In the past, the group has performed on many different stages including the Lincoln Center in New York City and even the White House. Mcbride said she is most looking forward to the dancing and the music.
"My high school had a Step Team, and I always enjoyed watching them perform, but since these guys are professionals, I'll be expecting some awesome dances," she said.
Wright said that this event will be comparable to the CAC's event for the Pacifico Dance Company, a traditional Mexican-American dance group, from last semester.
"Our last event with The WannaBeatles was pop culture-y, a throwback to the '60s, but it was something that a lot of people knew, the Beatles and their music," he said. "(Step Afrika!) represents a culture that a lot of people aren't exposed to or haven't seen or experienced and so that way it definitely fulfills our mission to broaden the cultural horizons on campus."
CAC events normally have a ticket price, but the committee decided to make them free for students so as to attract more of them, said Wright. Mcbride said she is pleased with the free ticket prices and the location for the show.
"I think if an event is free it gives students more incentive to attend," she said. "The fact that it is at the Bijou again is also really nice. That theater is a great place for events like this because it is small, yet comfortable."
Students will take on a new appreciation for cultural heritage and the traditional form of step dance from this event, said Wright.
"I think a lot of people maybe don't know about step dancing and so I think that this will be something that people will see and think it's really interesting and exciting," he said. "It's always good to exposure yourself to things you may not be familiar with."
The event is free for students with their student ID at the UC Central Ticket Office, and $10 for faculty and staff at the same location. The general public can purchase tickets for $15 online at knoxvilletickets.com.