‘Step Afrika!’s Magical Musical Holiday Step Show’ dazzles at Arena Stage

Amidst these times of holiday cheer and yuletide merriments, Step Afrika! throws its hat into the ring of festivities with an hour and a half of unabashed excitement and step-themed entertainment.

Step Afrika!’s Magical Musical Holiday Step Show is indeed magical. In roughly an hour and a half of unapologetic fun and joy, the Step Afrika! team rings in the holidays by seamlessly combining beloved classics and modern hits, all the while dazzling the audience with the nonstop energy one would expect from a step show.

‘Step Afrika!’s Magical Musical Holiday Step Show.’ Photo courtesy of Step Afrika!

Step Afrika!’s Magical Musical Holiday Show is divided into several performances and fun segments that all leave the audience awed. The show is led by a dynamic duo, the splendid host Ariel Dykes and the energetic DJ Nutcracker (Jeeda Barrington). The pair do a phenomenal job of engaging the audience and maintaining energy as the show transitions between a slew of dazzling performances. From a fantastic drum and dance spectacle to a later step-off between factions of the Step Afrika! ensemble, the dancers’ energy never wanes as they take the stage with unwavering charisma and give their all in stellar displays of talent and powerful and graceful moves.

From start to finish the show keeps its audience engaged. There is never a dry moment, especially as many of the show’s segments allow for plenty of audience participation through cheers, calls and responses, and even an all-out interactive dance lesson courtesy of Ariel and DJ Nutcracker. On another occasion, DJ Nutcracker invites the audience to the dance floor to fully embrace the spirit of the show and dance. And dance they did. Audience members flocked to the beautifully decorated stage to demonstrate their dance moves. Moments like these interspersed throughout the already fantastic choreographed performances cemented this show as a fun time for all ages.

Beyond its high energy, the show is steeped in unrestricted creativity, from fantastic costumes to thrilling musical accompaniment. As the raw rhythmic flair of several of the unaccompanied step performances captivates the audience, modern beats tie into familiar holiday classics helping to really elevate the show while keeping the audience grooving alongside the dancers.

‘Step Afrika!’s Magical Musical Holiday Step Show.’ Photo courtesy of Step Afrika!

The show also excels in its less active but equally phenomenal technical elements. The intricate detail put into designing the show is honestly breathtaking. From a stage made to look like an ice-skating rink to minute details like light snow falling in intervals throughout the show, the scenic design helps enhance the already amazing energy of Step Afrika!’s performances and deliver on the holiday magic advertised for the show.

‘Step Afrika!’s Magical Musical Holiday Step Show.’ Photo courtesy of Step Afrika!

The lighting and sound elements, designed by Marianne Meadows and Misha Michel respectively, are also incredible. The show is brilliant and colorful, but never overwhelming in its displays of dazzling lights that add an extra layer of magic to each new segment. The sound design is also clear and bright, perfectly punctuating moments of high energy with brilliant beats and tunes that never overwhelm performances or drown out the performers.

Ultimately, the show was nothing short of incredible. With its high-energy cheer and magnificent displays of stepping, Step Afrika!’s Magical Musical Holiday Step Show is a holiday season must-see.

Running Time: 70 minutes with no intermission.

Step Afrika!’s Magical Musical Holiday Step Show plays through December 18, 2022, on the Fichandler Stage at Arena Stage, 1101 Sixth Street SW, Washington, DC. Tickets ($92–$115) may be purchased online, by phone at 202-488-3300, or at the Arena Stage sales office Tuesday through Saturday from noon until 8 p.m. For information on programs such as pay-your-age tickets, student discounts, Southwest Nights, and hero’s discounts, visit arenastage.org/tickets/savings-programs.

The program for Step Afrika!’s Magical Musical Holiday Show is online here.

Closed captions are available via the GalaPro app.

ABOUT STEP AFRIKA!

Founded in 1994 by C. Brian Williams, Step Afrika! is the first professional company dedicated to the tradition of stepping. Under Williams’ leadership, stepping has evolved into one of America’s cultural exports, touring more than 60 countries across the globe, and the company now ranks as one of the top ten African American dance companies in the United States.

Step Afrika! blends percussive dance styles practiced by historically African American fraternities and sororities; traditional African dances; and an array of contemporary dance and art forms into a cohesive, compelling artistic experience. Performances are much more than dance shows; they integrate songs, storytelling, humor, and audience participation. The blend of technique, agility, and pure energy makes each performance unique and leaves the audience with their hearts pounding.

COVID Safety: Arena Stage requires that patrons wear facial masks while in its theaters. Arena additionally recommends, but no longer requires, that patrons wear masks in the Mead Center’s large open spaces, such as the Lower Lobby, Grand Lobby, Molly Smith Study, and café area. For up-to-date information, visit arenastage.org/safety.