By James Keller

Stomp is an extremely difficult concept to define; no one word does it justice. It’s not a play. There’s no story and no script, and save for the occasional holler or grunt, there’s no lines. It’s not a dance number. It’s true, the performers move about the stage, graceful, controlled and with beautiful precision, but it’s more than that. It’s not a concert, as the drumming, banging, scrapping, slipping and stomping are only a part of the whole, and certainly not complete on their own.

Stomp, when it comes down to it, is–well, it’s Stomp.

If you’re not yet familiar with the institution that is Stomp it’s easy to explain.With multiple companies staging shows around the world its following ranges from fad to cult. A cast of 11 embark on a stage, (an elaborately decorated alley, complete with road signs, ladders and barrels), that at some point becomes a part of the show. They use everything from brooms to buckets to sand to pipes to create elaborate percussive orchestration. It’s funny-with no words, physical comedy abounds-polished and intense; it’s brilliant, engaging and perfectly timed. Stomp, on any measure, is nothing less than a masterpiece.

The mood and tone vary greatly throughout the show, moving very quickly from tranquil and peaceful to intense and deafening. In one instant, a single performer captures the stage with nothing more than his hands and feet. In the next, the entire cast takes over the auditorium, banging garbage can lids and barrels together in perfect time, creating some of the most complex and layered sounds most people will ever hear, let alone from a group playing with garbage and hardware.

All the performers are skillfully talented in their own right. They all must be drummers, dancers and actors, and they must have rhythm. Throughout the performance, they each shine in their own way, be it through charismatic presence, beaming character or focused skill. The real gem from this company of Stomp, based out of San Francisco, is Tonya Kay. Nowhere else on stage did someone capture the eye of the audience as Kay did. Seemingly the most rhythmic and alive cast member, her skilled percussion was surpassed only by her gracefulness. However, Kay is not on stage alone. Again, it is the sum of Stomp’s parts that make it what it is, coming together in unison.

Stomp brings to Calgary something few Calgarians will have been exposed to. Still beaming with creative originality (Stomp is now 11 years-old), this is a show that, for it’s performers, for it’s concept and for all the obvious skill and labour that went into it, will leave you in awe.

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