Dance group ready to Stomp into Sheffield

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Dance show Stomp has grown into a phenomenon that’s now been seen in 55 countries and is heading for Sheffield just after Kuwait and Indonesia.

The hallmark of Stomp is that the dancers create their own rhythmic music using everyday objects such as dustbins and brooms and newspapers in routines that are as funny as they are breathtaking.

Fraser Morrison has been with the company since the very first performance in 1991, has Stomped all over the world and now acts as on the road director as well as performing.

He said: “When Luke (Stomp co-founder Luke Cresswell) asked me to do it, it was a three-week experiment that’s become a 23-year marathon. I wasn’t expecting it to go as long as it has done.”

Fraser explained why he thinks the show is still so popular. “I think it constantly has a new audience coming through. People we’re auditioning say, ‘I remember seeing you in the show when I was 10 years old’.

“Because we change the performances and routines, it keeps it fresh. The director is very much hands on and it is still maintained to the point where it keeps true to its origins.

“Obviously another reason is that there are no language barriers, so we can take in anywhere.”

He said it had been a big challenge to take what was essentially a street performance and turn it into a 40-minute theatre piece for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe but the gamble paid off and it was a hit straightaway.

Two of the newest routines have never been seen on the Lyceum stage in Sheffield before. Trolleys taps into the everyday experience of negotiating a busy shopping aisle with a fully-laden supermarket trolley and Frogs explores the bizarre sonic possibilities of a variety of plumbing fixtures.

Fraser said: “Every single prop that we use is genuine, not something made up to look like the real thing. Take the shopping trolleys, for instance. As you know, you can go looking in any canal or industrial estate for them!

“Our sound designer managed to find two or three totally different styles of trolleys.

“He played around with what they sounded and moved like and decided what worked best musically and choreographically, then he went online and found a company that sells them.

“We didn’t nick them off a supermarket!”

Fraser said: “That street feel is very much part of the show and its appeal. It has that accessibility about it. People can be watch it and genuinely think, ‘I could give that a go’.

“If you’re sitting and watching a classical orchestra, you know they’ve been working with those instruments for a few years, so it would intimidate you and you wouldn’t feel like you could give it a go.”

The company do run workshops that show that Stomp performances are a little bit more complicated than “just sweeping up to music”, as Fraser puts it.

He said that Stomp has spawned imitators but added: “I think what we want people to do is to be inspired and then go and do their own thing.”

Fraser performs these days in a Stomp offshoot, the Lost and Found Orchestra, which features a brass section on traffic cones, a string section on saws and percussion using bottles and plastic containers.

Stomp is at the Lyceum from Tuesday to Saturday next week. Box office: at the Crucible, online at www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk or call 0114 249 6000.