The brooms are back, along with the trash-can lids, the matchboxes, the metal poles and, yes, the kitchen sinks. "Stomp,' the high-energy body percussion show, returns to Duluth Friday and Saturday. In 1998, two performance sold out. In 2000, the...
The brooms are back, along with the trash-can lids, the matchboxes, the metal poles and, yes, the kitchen sinks.
"Stomp,' the high-energy body percussion show, returns to Duluth Friday and Saturday. In 1998, two performance sold out. In 2000, the shows sold well again.
It's easier to fill the seats with productions like "Stomp' because the show emphasizes sounds more than sights, said Debbie Aleff, director of ticketing for the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center.
"There's no really bad seat in the house for this type of show,' she said.
Cast members Andre Fernandez, 32, and Chris Rubio, 25, have performed shows in Minnesota -- Rubio in St. Paul and Fernandez in Duluth -- but neither could recall the details of the visits.
"Every city starts looking the same,' said Rubio, admitting that he can't distinguish St. Paul from Greensboro, N.C. in his memory.
Most of the time, cast members -- still tired from the previous night's performance -- drift from town to town along nondescript interstates, Fernandez explained. They don't have cars to go sightseeing. The only places that he vividly remembers are foreign ones: Berlin, Madrid, Athens, Amsterdam and cities in Africa.
Rubio was supposed to perform in Duluth this weekend, but during a Sept. 20 show in New Jersey, his weak left ankle gave way. It was his first gig after a three-month break, and he didn't wrap his foot with athlete's tape like he usually does.
The injury sidelines Rubio for several weeks -- "I just started up again, and now I have to go back (home),' he whined -- and it shows how the physically demanding production wears on performers over time.
For many "Stomp' routines, performers use their bodies as an instrument. They land hard on wood floors and slap different body parts in unison. In a routine called "Hands and Feet,' dancers forsake the props and use their limbs to make a beat.
"It makes it sound like a rock concert, but we're only using our hands and feet,' Rubio says of his favorite routine.
For another segment called "Suspension,' cast members hang from the ceiling along a 30-foot tall chain link fence that is littered with junkyard debris: pots, pans, street signs and car parts.
The items look disposable, but each piece was actually carefully selected by those who perform the number. The "instruments' can even wear over time, Rubio said, and when that happens, crewmembers scavenge nearby scrap yards in search of new things to drum on.
Because the props are so ordinary, cast members find inspiration in unlikely places such as construction sites or old buildings, Fernandez said. At dinner, someone will start tapping on a water glass. Another will crunch a plastic creamer container.
"Before you know it, it's an ensemble,' Rubio said. "We can't go anywhere in public.'
But after a few years of performing, most cast members know what the clang of a stop sign sounds like, and many turn to beat-heavy Latin music for inspiration. So when Rubio has an opportunity to create his own rhythm on stage, he says he's usually recreating a beat he heard on the radio.
"I know what (drumming on) a car rim is going to sound like,' he said. "It's almost like there's not a new sound left out there.'