AN OPPORTUNITY OF A LIFE TIME
In an exclusive interview with Step Afrika’s first Latino member Emanuel “Manny” Chacón, a brother of Lambda Sigma Upsilon Latino Fraternity Inc., inducted in the Fall of 2010, Manny reveals he always had a passion for the art of dance. Before he began to take hip-hop seriously, while in College, through his mentor J-Romeo, he began his artistic expression with Capoeira (a Brazilian martial art that combines elements of dance, acrobatics and music) in 2005.
What was your degree in, previous career?
I attended the University of Delaware where I studied Marketing with a minor in Interactive Media. Before joining the company I was an Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admissions at Cabrini University.
What inspired/motivated you to try out for Step Afrika!?
I started dancing and taking it seriously in College. Through my mentor, J-Romeo, I saw I had the potential to make dance a career. Although I had a good university job after graduation I always continued dancing and training. A friend told me about Step Afrika auditions and I figured why not go and see what happens. The worst that can happen is they say no. I prayed on it and said if it’s meant to be I’ll make it. A few months later I received a phone call with an offer.
The Def Of Stepping & What Is Step Afrika!
Stepping is known for its intricate, synchronized patterns of stomps, kicks, claps, and call-and- response. The company uses their body as instruments; blending percussive dance styles and influences from a variety of other dance forms to heighten performances by including integrate songs, storytelling, humor, audience participation, and the sharpest choreography.
Step Afrika! Founded in 1994, is the first professional company dedicated to the art of stepping. It is a non-profit organization that began as an exchange program with the Soweto Dance Theatre in Johannesburg, South Africa. The company’s dance style is a fusion of South African gumboot dance and African American stepping, that has traditional been displayed by historically black collegiate fraternal organizations. C. Brian Williams, founder of Step Afrika! is a graduate of Howard University and has performed, lectured and taught in Europe, South & Central America, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, the Caribbean and throughout the United States. Williams first learned to step as a member of his fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Beta Chapter, in 1989. Over the past 21 years Step Afrika! has grown to become one of the top 10 African American Dance Companies in the United States and Washington DC’s largest African American arts organization.
STEP AFRIKA AUDITIONS:
Step Afrika! tours nationally and internationally. The Company uses stepping as an educational tool presenting residency programs, workshops and a variety of arts education activities worldwide for grades K-12 and college students in its home of Washington, DC. Most recently the group wrapped up a college tour where they visited over 20 college campuses including, Iowa State University, University of North Carolina and Albany University.
How welcoming was the team to you upon joining (when did you join)?
This is my first season with the company. I started September 2016. The company was very welcoming. The learning and training process in the beginning was challenging, intense, and extremely tiring, but the older company members were very supportive along the way. Being the only Latino in an African American company may seem like a challenge to some but it has allowed me to bridge the gap among similar cultures to a degree.
Although my personal dance journey was much shorter than others, I was blessed with opportunities I never imagined and experiences many have yet to experience themselves. I felt as if things were happening for a reason. I rather go for it rather than think what if.
Auditions Are May 20th 2017 In D.C:
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© 2017 Gerilee Rosado The B.L.A.C.K Media