When you attempt to define tap-dancing at its simplest and purest, the best route is to say it is a form of dance in which the rhythm or rhythmical variation is audibly represented with the toe or heel by a dancer wearing shoes with special hard soles. Soft-shoe on the other hand doesn’t require any special type of shoes but incorporates more liberal use of the sliding of the feet across the surface of the stage, often with sand scattered across the stage for added effect. Simply put, the performer is not only the visual representation of the performance but also the aural representation. Tap may have declined in popularity in recent years with the advent of more visually striking modern dance techniques, but it is far from forgotten. Its appeal seemed to strike a chord with Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas, who took the concept and incorporated simple everyday objects like brooms, buckets, newspapers…everything INCLUDING the kitchen sink to create a revolutionary experience as “Stomp” hit the stage in 1991 in the United Kingdom and quickly became a worldwide sensation. Now, the groundbreaking production comes to Dallas at the Fair Park Music Hall through February 19th.
“Stomp” is not just a performance but the name given to the unique and ethnically diverse group of performers themselves back dropped against a simple and open set that appears threadbare with well-worn props of whatever percussive objects the stage designers could get their hands on to attach to the wall. The performers themselves never address the crowd (or each other) verbally, outside of simple gestures and knowing nods. The performance is practically non-stop with little opportunity breathe from either laughter or astonishment. There are no “roles” to speak of: just a handful of extremely talented individuals giving everything they have, and leaving it all out onstage for everyone to see.
This was by far one of the most entertaining and enjoyable experiences I’ve ever had since I began attending live theatre. It speaks to everybody by saying NOTHING and is the textbook definition of universally appealing; never has so much been done with so little and made so incredibly powerful and entertaining. I came into the theatre not really knowing what to expect and was completely mesmerized and blown away at the end of the night. “Stomp” is an experience that can be enjoyed by anyone of any age or background, employing rhythmic elements that I’m still trying to figure out as I sit here writing this. It’s almost like somebody handed Hans Zimmer and a group of skilled dancer/musicians the keys to a Goodwill store and said “make something magical,” which is precisely what “Stomp” is…. MAGICAL. It re-defines what some have said tap stands for: Talent, Attitude, and Personality. Do whatever you have to do to attend this absolutely remarkable production while you can. It’s an experience that simply should NOT be missed.