Students poured into the auditorium of Dunbar Middle School while the announcements blared over the intercom. Step Afrika dance troupe was here to perform and the excitement was audible. As first-year principal and new Academy Center of the Arts board member Derrick Brown attempted to settle the energetic crowd, a uniformed officer turned to me and mentioned how the din is always a precursor to special events. Principal Brown introduced Shaun Spencer-Hester who spoke about the life and contributions of her grandmother Anne Spencer. She was a renowned icon of the Harlem Renaissance as a civil rights activist, poet, and a former librarian at Dunbar. Before Step Afrika took the stage, a group of young girls from the school performed an elaborate step recital, building on the now almost tangible anticipation of the student body. Finally, Principal Brown invited Step Afrika to take the stage. The dancers began in a circle facing each other, singing, stepping, clapping, and dancing. They were as impressive vocally as they were visually. As they progressed into each new routine, it was obvious that they had practiced choreography extensively. The music and rhythms they created were completely unaccompanied by music, and yet they stayed in […]
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