Garde welcomes Step Afrika!

Step by step: When Step Afrika! formed in 1994, it became the first professional company anywhere dedicated solely to stepping. Stepping, if you didn't know, is a percussive dance that began in African-American fraternities and sororities in the early 20th century. It derives, according to Step Afrika!, from a tradition of African-based communities "that use movement, words and sounds to communicate allegiance to a group."

Sounds like ...: The performers use their body to create vibrant sound and intricate rhythms - with footsteps, claps and spoken words.

U.S. and abroad: While the ensemble is called Step Afrika!, it's actually an American group and is based in Washington, D.C. It stages its performances here and around the world - with a show Friday at the Garde Arts Center - and it has been featured on CNN, BET and NPR.

- KRISTINA DORSEY

Step Afrika!, 8 p.m. Friday, Garde Arts Center, 325 State St., New London; $25-$40; (860) 444-7373, gardearts.org.

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