Bhangra, G-Steppas deliver culture with a side of attitude

On Sunday, Nov. 19, Activities Commission sponsored A Sunday Knight Café, an event incorporating different aspects of Asian and African culture.

The event began with traditional and modern dance, featuring Geneseo Bhangra (GB) and Geneseo's step team, G-Steppas, which segued into the final performance by SUNY Brockport's Sankofa African Dance and Drum Ensemble.

The event started off with entertainment from GB, a competitive dance team that is only one year old. The members of Geneseo Bhangra dressed traditionally and danced to music inspired by Asian culture. The night before, on Saturday, Nov. 18, GB competed in Muqabla, an Indian dance competition hosted by the University of Buffalo.

GB was up against huge universities such as Cornell, SUNY Binghamtom, Syracuse, Drexel, the University of Rochester and the University of Buffalo, all of which have teams that have been in place for at least five years. With hard work, late practices three to four times a week for almost three months and the help of G-Steppas, Geneseo Bhangra earned first place.

At A Sunday Knight Café, GB was followed by a performance from G-Steppas, Geneseo's step dance team which initially began with members of the Black Student Union. The G-Steppas adopted an airline theme, dressing as hostesses and occasionally calling out quips about air travel to introduce a sequence of new steps.

The all-female team stomped rhythmically off-stage as their performance was received with raucous applause.

Before offering audience members the entertainment of another step performance, the Edison Tech High School Step Team introduced the history of step, which began with Greek organizations. What started as simple marching to show school spirit and a sense of pride soon evolved into complex, rhythmic movements and, finally, modern-day step.

Step is no longer exclusive to fraternities and sororities, but is also practiced at the high school level. A member of the Edison Tech Step Team engaged the audience before the performance and promised a lively show.

"We have this thing that we do… we always place first place," the student said. Whether or not the audience believed the claim, the step team entertained with intricate maneuvers, steps, and jumps - all impeccably synchronized. Edison Tech's performance ended with a high level of intensity, leading into the similarly dynamic SUNY Brockport Sankofa African Dance and Drum Ensemble.

"The combination of getting right in your face, dancing there in the middle of the crowd and the leader's bellowing voice made everyone go crazy for the Edison Step Team. It was really awesome to watch," commented freshman Alyssa D'Anna.

The Sankofa African Dance and Drum Ensemble's Artistic Director Clyde Alafiju Morgan began by relaying simple African lyrics and encouraging audience participation. According to Morgan, the ensemble travels with the intent of "presenting a modern interpretation of very ancient ideas."

The music and presentation of the ensemble provided cultural awareness and insights. Members wore traditional African clothes and performed with genuine African instruments, most of which the audience would have been unlikely to see elsewhere.

Morgan described what they do by saying "the Sankofa African Dance and Drum Ensemble retrieves the cultural essences of the past and brings them into the present. Sankofa presents dance and theater works expressing the dynamic presence of African culture in America."

A Sunday Knight Café incorporated a variety of performances, all of which provided the audience with a glimpse of the vastness of Asian and African traditions and possessed great potential to arouse further cultural interests.