The British percussion collective Stomp, which uses members’ bodies and everyday objects to create a theatrical performance, is coming to the UAE this week to open the Abu Dhabi SummerFest.
The group will perform two new routines: Trolley turns shopping into a thunderous affair featuring acrobatics and zipping trolleys. Frogs explores the rhythmic appeal of plumbing fixtures – you will never look at your sink the same way again.
Stomp’s Abu Dhabi shows will also feature spectacular routines in which performers toss paint cans while simultaneously drumming complex patters on them. Dancers turn brooms into dancing partners and converse using clapping. Water cooler bottles are also transformed into sophisticated instruments.
From the streets to the palace
Formed in 1991 in London, the percussion group came together on the back of artists steeped in the 1980s UK street art scene.
Before the formation, Stomp’s founders Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas collaborated as part of the percussive street theatre collective Pookiesnackenburger. The group’s interactive live performances were a hit in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe throughout the 1980s, producing two albums and landing high-profile television work.
The duo used the experience from both media to finance and direct the first ever Stomp show in 1991, premiering in Edinburgh. The show’s immediate success has had them on the road ever since.
The collective, ranging in numbers from eight to 30, has performed in Europe, the US, South America and the Middle East with various new productions. The group comes to Abu Dhabi after what is arguably its greatest triumph: performing as part of the opening ceremony of last year’s London Olympic Games.
The Stomp effect
Stomp’s success gave a sense of legitimacy to the British street art scene. Before, the industry was viewed as a poor man’s artistic platform, but Stomp demonstrated that the street theatre scene is vibrant and often home to innovative ideas born from a lack of budget and commercial pressures.
Since its arrival on the London stage, the collective has been viewed as a breath of fresh air and has become the go-to group for a whole range of projects. The legendary producer Quincy Jones tapped the group to appear in his 1995 album Q’s Jook Joint.
The group also lent their musical ear to TV and film projects including an appearance on Sesame Street and contributing to the Tank Girl film soundtrack. This eventually lead to the group starring in its own projects, including the 1997 HBO special Stomp Out Loud and the 2002 live concert IMAX film Pulse: A Stomp Odyssey. Later years saw Stomp expanding its sound by creating the Lost and Found Orchestra in 2007, which pairs its percussion with symphonic arrangements.
The worldwide success of Stomp allowed the group to expand to include multiple touring casts. The American company, performing across the country since 1995, debuted Stomp in Chile, Brazil and South Korea, while the British equivalent introduced the show to Scandinavia and South Africa in addition to becoming favourites in Germany and Holland. Original cast members are involved in various performances as well as working on concepts for new performances.
Stomp will perform at Emirates Palace from Thursday to Saturday. Performances begin at 7pm. There will be an extra matinée show on Friday at 3pm. Tickets begin from Dh150 from www.ticketmaster.ae. Visit summerfestabudhabi.ae for more information.