Stomp in Seattle: Everything INCLUDING the Kitchen Sink

Last weekend, The GF and I saw a perfromance of Stomp in Seattle. It's a show I've wanted to see for some time.

Stomp is a working class tap dance show that looks nothing like any other tap dance show. It's an ensemble of 8 people who clap, flick, rustle, bang, swish, and, yes, stomp across the stage. They tell little stories, develop characters, and tell jokes, all without a single word of dialog.

If there's a overriding message to the show, it would be that music is everyhwere, and music is cheap. If you have a newspaper, a broom, or a bucket, you can make complex music.

If there's another message, it would be that teamwork makes all the difference. While one person can make fascinating music with a cigarette lighter or trash can, it takes a whole team of people working together to make it truly extraordinary.

Most of the segments begin with one person playing an improvised instrument. Then someone else comes in and builds on that, then someone else builds on that, and before you know it, there's a symphony going on.

The opening sequence is a great example of that. One guy comes out pushing a broom. He sweeps to a rythm. Then he starts adding broom taps to the rythm. Next, someone else comes out, also pushing a broom in rythm. His actions with with the broom are different. Maybe he taps it differently, or sweeps in a different sequence. Eventually, there are 8 people on stage with brooms and they've built up this whole, intense musical experience using just percussion -- no melody.

In some respects, it reminds me of the Kid Beyond performance I saw at w00tstock! last year. In that performance, he made a sound with his voice, and looped it, then added another electronically. Obviously they are two very differnt things. Kid Beyond was one guy who could also do melody and do it all electronically. The similarity is in the way they start with one simple sound and then layer complexity on top of that.

Stomp's chroeography was impressive as well. It wasn't just about banging stuff. At points they were tossing items to one another while playing them. So in additioanl to the music, and dance, there were also elements of juggling.

The show surprised me with its nuance. It exceeded my expectations with its story telling and character interaction. I expected it to be a fantastic exlporation of rythm and percussion.

Keeps your eyes open and find a team. Extraordinary things like Stomp are possible.

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