Meet The Creative Team
Jakari Sherman Headshot_bw.png
Jakari Sherman is a passionate choreographer, ethnochoreologist and performer whose experience extends over 20 years. Rooted in the African American tradition of stepping, his work pushes the boundaries of percussive dance using technology, storytelling and diverse musical scores. Jakari served as Step Afrika!’s Artistic Director for seven years. He directed The Migration: Reflections of Jacob Lawrence, Green is the New Black, Symphony in Step, among others.
He is the founder of Ordered Steps, a nonprofit that teaches stepping as a tool for youth outreach. Jakari received a M.A. in Ethnochoreology from the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance and is undertaking groundbreaking ethnographic work related to structural analysis, teaching methodologies and historical archiving of stepping in the U.S. Jakari has lectured on stepping throughout the world, including Greece, Kazakhstan, the U.K. and Belgium.
Mfoniso Akpan, artistic director of Step Afrika!, has trained extensively in tap, ballet, jazz, modern, African dance and step. While attending the State University of New York at Stony Brook, she majored in biochemistry and cultivated her stepping skills as a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Mfon began her training at the Bernice Johnson Cultural Arts Center and has performed at Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, the Apollo Theater, the Brooklyn Academy of Music and Lincoln Center. Mfon toured with the off-Broadway show Hoofin' 2 Hittin, where she was a featured stepper and dancer.
C. Brian Williams, founder and executive producer of Step Afrika!, is a native of Houston, Texas, and graduate of Howard University. He first learned to step as a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. - Beta Chapter, in the Spring of 1989. While living in Southern Africa, he began to research the percussive dance tradition of stepping, exploring the many sides of this exciting, yet under-recognized American art form and founded Step Afrika! in 1994.
Williams has performed, lectured and taught in Europe, Central and South America, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, the Caribbean and throughout the United States. He is the founder of the monumental Step Afrika! International Cultural Festival in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Through Williams’ leadership, stepping has evolved into one of America’s newest cultural exports and inspired the designation of Step Afrika! as Washington, DC’s official “Cultural Ambassador.” Williams has been cited as a “civic/community visionary” by NV Magazine, a “nation builder” by the National Black Caucus of State Legislators, and a “minority business leader” by the Washington Business Journal. He is the recipient of numerous Artist Fellowships; the Distinguished Arts Award from the Coalition for African-Americans in the Performing Arts; the Pola Nirenska Award for Contemporary Achievement in Dance. He is also featured in Soulstepping, the first book to document the history of stepping. He also earned the 2008 Mayor’s Art Award for Innovation in the Arts and has led the company to multiple Metro DC Dance Awards for “Outstanding New Work”, “Excellence in Stage Design/Multimedia” and “Outstanding Group Performance.” In 2018, Williams received the Mayor’s Arts Award for Visionary Leadership from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities.
Drumfolk is made possible by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Lead Commissioning Support provided by Arts Emerson, Hancher Auditorium, Eugene M. Lang Foundation and the Strathmore Performing Arts Center. Additional support provided by the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, The New Victory Theater, Delaware Art Museum, Meany Hall, The Soraya and the DC Commission on Arts and Humanities.
Production Residency funded by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project, with funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Additional Production Support provided by the Publick Playhouse.