‘Stomp’ raises the roof

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Rhythm, soul and light-hearted comedy reigned as the legendary internationally acclaimed dance-musical “Stomp” arrived at the Benedum Center Sept. 15. For six nights, the show dazzled Pittsburghers as they made a beeline to witness eight performers who moved in synchronized harmony, made delightful music with everyday objects and danced with youthful ferocity.

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CLEANING UP—Even brooms and other common objects were used to make music.

The job of any performer or entertainer, whether a great athlete or a skilled ballerina, is to make what they do look easy. No matter the number of hours put into a performance, the audience will never see their loose threads. And if a bead of sweat drops from their foreheads, you’d better believe the performance is worth every drop. In true artist form, the cast members of “Stomp” continued this legacy by creating a show that was carefree, full of powerful sights and sounds and so much fun that the viewer does not think of how difficult each move and sound must be. But when the show is over and you pause to think about the music they made and how they made it, you know just how hard it was. To move one’s body in perfect rhythm with seven other people or to make your hands sound like a perfect “pop,” or to take garbage can lids, matchboxes, inner tubes, kitchen sinks, buckets, brooms and almost anything you could imagine, and make the thing purr like a fine orchestra, is as hard as finding a toddler who will say no to a chocolate chip cookie.

Any fan of tap as a dance form might recall the dynamic scene in the 1989 film, “Tap,” starring Gregory Hines and Sammy Davis Jr., when legendary tap dancers challenge each other to a fast-stepping, rhythm-making duel where the dancer with the most electrifying moves might be anointed greatest of the great, for the moment. Similar to tap dancing itself, “Stomp” borrows themes of African rhythms made by the body, the feet and the drum, as performers use every part of themselves to make concise, mesmerizing beats and sounds. While the show is often monotonous and the routines might be a bit unimaginative in certain parts, it is extremely entertaining and full of delight.

“Stomp” gives acknowledgement to the working world, those common everyday folks who make this world what it is, by doing hard jobs that are often thankless. They make music that sounds like a heartbeat, and in that one act alone, reminds us all that we have a heart, for though we know we need it to live, how many times do we actually give our heart, that great pumping organ, its just consideration? In many ways, “Stomp” addresses who we are as people, how we come and go and how everything we do is full of life, possibility, power and sound. The show forces us to listen when we otherwise might refuse.

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