Dalton State College’s Goodroe Auditorium welcomes the music and step dancing of Soul Steps Thursday, February 17, in celebration of Black History Month.
The program is free and open to the public and begins at 7:30 p.m.
“Soul Steps is a percussive dance movement that uses the hands, feet, arms and legs to create polyrhythmic sounds,” said Maxine Lyle, founder and artistic director of Soul Steps. “Beginning as early as the 1920s, black fraternities and sororities used chants and coordinated movement to express solidarity. By the 1970s, the art form had become elaborate in movement and rhythm, and grew to incorporate competitions.
“Step dance has close resemblance to South African gumboot dancing, which originated in South African mines in the late 1800s,” Lyle said. “During that period, black miners worked under oppressive conditions. Hot mines, strenuous work, and the inability to communicate freely with each other provoked them to use rhythm as a means of release and expression. They wore tall ‘gumboots’ to protect themselves from the contaminated water in the mines. To communicate, they would create rhythms by slapping on the sides of the boots. Soon, this practice became a cultural dance form with song.”
Soul Steps originated in 2005 in New York City and reaches far beyond conventional boundaries to concentrate on the body as a percussive, story-telling instrument. Performances include the personal and cultural stories of the Soul Steps artists and the generations of ancestors they represent.
Seating for Soul Steps will be first-come, first-served in Goodroe Auditorium in Gignilliat Memorial Hall in the center of the Dalton State campus. The group appears courtesy of the Campus Activities Board/Office of Student Activities.