Sankofa brings fresh step into workplace

Sankofa delivered another exceptional performance in their show, Kofa, Inc., last weekend. The ’62 Center’s MainStage was packed with anxious expectation for one of the most popular dance groups at the College. A combination of visual and musical expression, stepping uses the human body in ways unlike any other form. Dance and percussion were seamlessly combined in a routine that required no additional instruments.

Sankofa chose a workplace theme this year to further entice potential audience members. Posters around the campus pitched the slogan, “Kofa, Inc. ‘The Company of the Year!’” The step team lived up the the expectations set by its wide publicity; this year’s theme integrated especially well with the energizing dance routines.

Assuming there’d be some work-related costumes and maybe a few numbers that vaguely reflected a business theme, I was both amused and impressed by the coherence of the workplace element throughout the show. Lighting effects and a simple set created the appearance of an office building on stage. The steppers were not the least inhibited by their professional outfits, formal clothes that would seemingly allow far less movement than typical dance apparel. One of my favorite creative decisions was the clock projected on the back wall; it frequently displayed a time that related to the various stages of the day – such as waking up, awaiting lunch break and leaving work.

The show consisted of a series of dance numbers that led the audience through a few of the most recognizable phases of a work day, beginning with a late rush to catch the morning train, and finishing in a night-club at the end of a long week. Interspersed within the show were a few spoken lines, usually funny mockeries of clichéd emotions which both furthered the anecdotal aspect of the show and initiated dance numbers. While the routines suggested spontaneous responses, the moves were clearly well-rehearsed. Arms mirrored each others’ crisp angles, feet stomped at exactly the same time, and hands moved quickly from knee-slaps to over-the-head claps.

After oversleeping, the workers met each other at the train station where the women demonstrated their abilities in “Will Step for Money.” The girls explored a variety of sounds by hitting their shoulders, thighs and chests. For a few moves they squatted almost to the ground, impeccably keeping both their balance and their rhythm. Shortly afterwards, the men showcased their own skills in a fight scene-like number. Using their feet, hands and even backs to tumble over each other, their moves gestured at the number’s title, “Station Hustle,” without the usual faked fighting moves employed by actors. This was followed by a brief scene in which the steppers arranged themselves in a train, one of the most arresting compositions of the night.

The section “At Work” humorously depicted classic angst in the workplace. When bored workers followed the lead of one discontented employee and broke into dance, the CEOs (the three graduating Sankofa seniors: John Withers ’10, Janay Clyde ’10 and Genesis Herrera ’10), admonished them. Yelling about productivity and forcing the workers to the outskirts of the scene, the three seniors took center stage and performed a brief routine that spotlighted each of them. One number about awaiting lunch break created a time motif: Dancers used their arms to act as the hands of clocks, ticking up to 12 in anticipation. When the clock finally struck noon, the steppers exchanged their late morning weary, hungry and bored facial expressions for ones of ecstasy.

Throughout the performance, members alluded to the “Kofa Lounge” in snippets of dialogue, eagerly looking forward to dancing at the club. The last section of the show, aptly entitled “At the Club,” finished the performance with high-energy numbers evocative of a Friday night mood. Clever choreography and the steppers’ synchronization suggested club dance moves, while bright polo shirts reconciled the fun of weekend clothing with the unified look of a professional step team.

The technical skill and creativity of Kofa, Inc. went above and beyond expectations, leaving the audience both exhilterated and electrified.

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