WASHINGTON -- If you want to get hundreds of elementary kids to sit up and pay attention, invite Step Afrika! to walk on stage.

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For the past 23 years, Step Afrika! has traveled the world. The group is now one of the top 10 professional African-American Dance Companies in the United States. They’re also a non-profit dedicated to teaching children about teamwork, commitment and discipline.

“Step Afrika! is the first professional dance company in the world dedicated to the tradition of stepping. We use it as a motivational and educational tool for young people,” said performer Brittny Smith.

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Smith started dance training at just 7 years old, had a role in the film ‘Stomp the Yard 2,’ and performed as a Houston Rockets Power Dancer. She now takes those performance skills to stages across the world, including local schools in D.C. like Bruce Monroe Elementary.

“You get history, you get entertainment, you get this interactive really fun experience,” said Smith. The students also get to see some role models on stage. Every member of Step Afrika! is a college graduate.

For Smith, these small stage performances are just as important as those in front of sold-out crowds in Chicago or New York City.

“It’s very important we keep arts and we keep music and things like that in our schools because a lot of time these young people really, really need outlets to express themselves,” she said.

Step Afrika! gets people moving – towards college, towards a greater appreciation for the arts and towards a better understanding of each other.

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