When was the last time you left the theater with everyone around you blown away? Last night, the performance ensemble Stomp delivered at the Van Duzer Theater. Whatever you thought Stomp was — it was more. Tickets are still available for tonight's show.
Yes, this is the popular group that turns everyday actions like sweeping the floor into choreographed dances and ordinary objects like janitorial brooms into instruments. The four men and two women are modern vaudevillians — a 21st century Ziegfeld Follies minus the glamour. The troupe champions anti-glamour, an urban tribe dressed in grungy cut-off cargo pants, ragged tank tops and beat-up work boots.
The dancing makes the music: tapping feet, whirling shopping cart wheels, crinkling newspaper, trash cans and stomping around in those boots. Everything becomes an instrument, every interaction another chance to explore ways to communicate without words.
In the spirit of the Flying Karamazov Brothers, paint cans drummed in between juggling. Sticks are thrown from player to player and drums are shared with the synchronicity of a drum line. Like in stepping, these performers use their entire bodies as organic instruments to produce complex rhythms and sounds. Dancers carry oversized rubber inner-tubes that flip up, transforming the percussionists into weird sea urchins like the sculptural theater of Momix.
Like a giant version of the cans we walked on as kids, two cast members lumber across the stage, attached to the top of oil drums by ski boots, daring and ingenious. Most remarkable was the exquisite timing and sound of butane lighters opening and closing on a darkened stage, the flames making both the rhythmic soundtrack and precise visual patterns.
And the sinks … The guys come out with metal sinks hanging from shoulder straps, playing pots and pans and splashing in water until each dude unplugs their drain releasing a torrent in guy-at-the-urinal stances … wait for it … yes, one sink-guy shakes his sink.
These folks are funny and personable. Without words we get to know them. They are exuberant, manic, and happy to be stomping.
For tonight’s show, Wednesday, Sept. 4, at 8 p.m., call the Van Duzer box office at 707-826-3928 or go to www.humboldt.edu/centerarts.