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Emilie Springer - Appreciating a Good Stomp

Today, I'm going to talk about a performance I attended at the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts, a beautiful stage space in Anchorage that provides opportunity for patrons from all over the state. The show was Stomp, a diverse high-energy performance of rhythm music and dance with tons of urban backdrops and props, traffic signs, garbage cans, cleaning buckets, mops brooms, hammers, toilet plungers and more. Audience participation is included at some points, as well, with call and response, clapping, snapping at the direction of a performer. The show was formed in the United Kingdom in 1991, the result of a 10 year collaboration between creators Luke Cresswell and Steve mcnicholas. Now the home theater is located in New York City where there is a local cast and a touring cast. The tour company performed eight shows in Anchorage in the first week of February. I talked to Jordan Brooks, by telephone, performer with the cast and rehearsal director at their next tour stop, Grand Forks North Dakota.

He says the audience's were very receptive. Everyone was very welcoming. We got to do quite a bit of adventuring around town. Some of us went to Alyeska for one afternoon off and went skiing for a half day. Some of the crew just took the tram up to the top. The weather was pretty snowy in the first couple of days, and we took a drive up to a lake by Palmer to go ice fishing. That was pretty high up there in the activity book. We saw baby king salmon, baby silver salmon and rainbow trout.

Jordan has been with the company since 2016. I always wanted to be a performer or a musician, he says. He went to the Berkeley College of Music, graduated there, went to NYU and got a master's degree in music percussion. Two months later he got into Stomp he says.

He tells me a little more about the process of the traveling company. We travel with 12 performers, and the show calls for eight, that way, we are able to have room for injuries and room for people to take a night off here and there and keep the Integrity of the show. The travel time is intense. With a brief glance at the North American tour, I see them traveling almost daily, or every few days. There are four cities listed over the next 10 days. We travel with two semi trucks, Brooke says, they're full of props that we use, and set materials. The main backdrop is a huge gait, kind of like a cage in an alleyway of an industrial city, New York City, Philly or Boston. There are pots, pans, buckets all attached to the set. That breaks down and gets loaded in the semis at each stage. Trucks and travel are a big part of the show. The set and crew are kind of like a cat and mouse sort of team, we chase each other, the set leaves and the crew follows.

Reading the crew bios from the program and exploring a little more of the company history online, one of the things I found most interesting was how much tap dance and a movement form called stepping is involved.

To bring some more Homer relevance to the story, I asked three Homer youth, Rubus and Mazzy Gervai and Aurora Springer, some of what they remember, and what their favorite parts of the show were. There was a lot of discussion of sound, and how loud the show was.

“What other instruments did you guys notice?” Springer asked.

“They had these inner tubes, and they were banging on them with drumsticks, and then they were wiggling them around a lot and banging them on the ground, and banging like barrels, like big oil barrels, and stuff. It's really cool this thing for really funny because they had water in them. And then when we were just started spraying it out.

Now, what about the movement part? What did, what would you say about how they were dancing?

They were really in sync. They were all together. Like they went like one two three and all in a line. Yeah, they're usually just they're either all scattered around like they were either all not next to each other or they're all together. They were just scattered. Yeah around kind of but they were doing the same thing. It was like a concussion orchestra.


Per… oh yeah, percussion, percussion.

What I thought was the loudest part was when they were up on the back and they're like banging on the different metal signs. When they had the trash cans, was really loud, they're banging on, the sound like water coming on the stage. They had little microphones at the front of the stage to, like, get all the sounds, and they get way louder. And the little matches, there's this one guy, and he's really funny, and when they were doing newspapers, he made a sword out of newspapers.

To learn more about the company, check out or Stomp Live on YouTube. There are a lot of fun videos and media to see there too. Happy as always for an opportunity to see a live show at the Performing Arts Center, a space that serves Performing Arts interests of residents around the state. This is Emily Springer.