Sankofa steps around the world

Last Saturday on the MainStage of the ’62 Center for Theatre and Dance, Sankofa gave a brilliant performance. It had all the standard qualitites that one loves in a Sankofa performance – the shout outs from the audience, the jaw-dropping steps, the overabundance of energy. But this show was a little different. It was senior night for Sankofa and the performance was international-themed, framed through Sankofa’s “study abroad” experiences. Overall, it was a fantastic send off to the seniors who have given so much to Sankofa and the College throughout their four years.

The show started off with Nneka Dennie ’13, Kenny Jean ’14 and Jabulani Blyden ’13, the Sankofa drill sergeants, coming on stage to the audience calls of “I see you.” Calling this show “one of Sankofa’s most ambitious to date,” the drill sergeants noted how a willingness to immerse themselves in different cultures has propelled Sankofa forward. Ending with a request for the audience to return the energy of the performers, the Kofa drill sergeants exited, setting the stage for an innovative, lively step performance.

The first country featured in the performance was the U.S., as Sankofa alternated between step routines and skits satirizing the process of deciding to study abroad. Highlights included some intricate dance moves involving wooden canes and a routine to “No Worries” by Lil Wayne featuring Detail. Sankofa also showed its comedic talents with members bemoaning the lack of “endless quinoa” that would arise from travel abroad. Finally, Sankofa took off on a trip to experience stepping throughout the world.

A tourism advertisement video introduced South Africa as the first location on Kofa’s journey. Kofa members came out dressed in camouflage pants and gumboots, which were used as percussion in the marching-inspired step that was aptly titled “Gumboot.” The skits continued, with the Kofa ladies “borrowing” the men’s money to go out, while the men challenged them to a dance off for its return. This set the routine for one of the best steps of the night. Choreographed by Randall Otis ’15, “Choppa Klapz” featured cartwheels and impressive breakdancing. It was a perfect close to the South African segment of the journey.

Kofa next arrived in India dressed in silks, with the Kofa ladies kicking this leg of the journey off. Asking, “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the baddest of them all?” they answered their own question with a killer routine titled “Mirror, Mirror,” choreographed by Njeri Ndungu ’13 and Nykeah Parham ’13. The Kofa men responded with “Beware of the Boys,” a dance that proved that nothing cures homesickness while studying abroad quite like the music of Jay-Z. This routine, choreographed by Jay Mehta ’13 and Anuj Shah ’15, mixed Bollywood with traditional stepping in an impressively creative way. They then performed a routine set to “Pyramids” by Frank Ocean, which was a definite audience favorite.

The show ended with a return to America. Coming out in red, white and blue, Sankofa first did a step featuring the new members of Kofa and then a step featuring and choreographed by the seniors of Kofa. The show finished with “Let’s Break It Down,” featuring just the ladies, and “Business as Usual,” featuring just the men, which proved that the man can play a mean air guitar in addition to being incredibly talented steppers. The show closed with “Triptych,” which featured all of Kofa’s members.

With the audience left cheering for more, Kofa and members of the Capoeiristas, a martial arts and dance group on campus (who performed an awesome guest dance), came back out to a standing ovation and performed a final song to the aptly chosen “International Love” by Pitbull. The show appropriately ended with recognition of all the seniors who have greatly contributed to both Sankofa and the College. From the audience participation, to the performers’ dedication, to the alumni’s engagement, this was a fantastic show that represented a lot of what makes the College so special.