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The Smash hit STOMP hits the Fabulous Fox Theater March 2nd – 6th.  This production, originally created by Luke Cresswell and Steve McNichols, is comprised of performers (dancers and musicians) who use movement along with everyday objects to create mesmerizing rhythms and breathtaking choreography.  The objects include brooms, trash cans, lighters, sinks, trash bags and sand to name a few.   It is a super cool show, appropriate for audience members of all ages.

As a professional dancer in NYC in the 90’s, I’ve had a special relationship with the show STOMP for over a decade.  It started off with a pre-career trip to the Big Apple with a college group.  I was so moved by the sounds, choreography, creativity, performances and pure athleticism of this show, that it solidified my decision to move to NY and pursuit a career in the performing arts.  If that kind of work was out there, I was in.

As my life in the Big City unfolded, I made it a point to go see the show a few more times with family and guests.  With each viewing I became more and more enthralled with this eclectic collage of movement and sound.  Not to mention the performer’s bodies were kickin’.  I was actually bold enough auditioned for it once, and am proud to say I got called back out of 2500 other dancers.  Sadly, It wasn’t in the cards for me (I was taken in other directions), but being so close to STOMP’s greatness definitely was, and still is, a highlight.

As time passed I started working in Higher education,  trying to fill the shoes of my mentors and inspire fledgling dancers to develop and “eye” for good theater and dance.  So I purchased a DVD of the company in STOMP Out Loud.  This video features portions of the stage show and newer choreography site specific to the streets of NY.  I used this DVD as a teaching tool.  As an example of how dance can be pushed to its limits.  Many of my students have written collegiate papers on the subject.

As I became a mom and now living in this grand city of Atlanta, STOMP weaved its way back into my life again.  When my daughter turned 2, she became obsessed with the DVD, as 2 year olds do.  I think we watched it every day for a few good months.

Imagine my delight when my daughter, now about to turn 6, wanted to see the live STOMP performance as an early birthday present.  Yahoo!!!  There was no question, I had to oblige.

My chair could not contain the excitement I felt when the lone dancer broke out in rhythms with an industrial broom.  I stopped breathing when the entire company, with their beautifully defined deltoids, joined him in powerful unison.  My daughter was mesmerized as they moved on to humorous match box quartets and interactive clapping scenes.  I hadn’t remembered how funny the show was, until my daughter burst out into giggles next to me.  I had forgotten how invested the audience gets and how part of the show we become.

The show has evolved since the ‘90s.  It still includes the classic Trash can lid duets, the incredibly clever sink quartet, and the warrior like wooden pole ensemble, but there were some great new surprises as well.  At one point, 6 performers wore these giant rubber inner tubes, like prehistoric ballet tutus, and they included the basket ball scene from their Stomp Out Loud show.  So for those of you who have loved this show, as I have, there are  fresh new moments for you to enjoy.

In a nut shell, we went and they did not disappoint.  It has passed the test of time and become a classic in my eyes.   Audience members of all kinds will enjoy STOMP, from the average Joe to the college student, the jaded performer to the fresh mind of a child.  I was as inspired and fulfilled as I was the first time I saw the show over a decade ago.  I would venture to say, even more so now, because I got to share this experience with my daughter, the next generation of performing artist.

 

Jennifer McLester is our newest addition at The Backstage Beat. Welcome Jennifer.

As an accomplished dancer, we welcome your insight into different events Atlanta has to offer.

Dancer With An Attitude

The Movement In Stillness – “First Breath” by Travis Magee

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“First Breath”, a new exhibition of photography by Travis Magee

The Frieda and Roy Furman Gallery
Film Society of Lincoln Center
Beginning 1.31.15

There are these moments among skilled choreography and seasoned performances where you lose yourself. If you happen to be experiencing this, you will most probably hear a gasp or a groan. There is no language adequate to tell the tale later because they affect you in a primal, visceral way. These moments transcend language and are too intimate to describe. To those of you who don’t frequent the many exquisite dance events happening around the world today… this is the reason to see dance live! The bitter sweet dichotomy can perpetuate a frustration, that the experiences can’t REALLY be translated to anyone who wasn’t at the dance performances, sharing the adventure. These feelings lead to the question, “How do we bottle this?”

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Dancer With An Attitude

Dearly Departures: “A Long Way… A Longer Distance Call”

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photo : Chris Carder
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The Lucky Penny has become a cornerstone of Atlanta’s cutting edge dance and technology. Dearly Departures: A new dance by Blake Beckham and her impeccable motley crew of technicians and performers, at Georgia Tech’s DramaTech Theater, have created yet another night of artistic excellence

The little black box theatre, more of a trapezoidal space is reminiscent of the old train stations lined with a long illuminated bench Stage Left, an “Old Skool” telephone booth Stage Right and a Split Flap display board hanging above. The experience begins with a Rolodex scrolling sound as the Split Flap illustrates very slow, movie style, credits. This sets a mellow tone, allowing the audience to hunker down in our seats and get comfortable. The lights dim then flicker off, in a “cool” and unusual manner, foreshadowing the unexpected and poetic experience to come.

The clickety clack of the display is overtaken by ambient music and lights go up on dancer Alisa Mitten. She smoothly makes her way around with long relaxed movements, allowing her fingertips to initiate her locomotion. As we watch, the Split Flap is feeding us contemplative ideas to ponder as the action unfolds.

“Away… Way back… Go… Go… Go back.” And a repeated mantra of “Begin again” & “Begin & End.”

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Dance

T. Lang: A Woman Searching

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The raw space at the Goat Farm is set up with four see through scrims hanging from the ceiling, situated in a square, to separate the performers from the audience.  Seats are arranged in the round, meaning all the way “a round” where the action was about to take place.  The first question of the evening is to figure out which side of the room we want to experience this evening from.  Obviously, there is no right or wrong… just questions.

On June 7th, I found myself asking a lot of questions at the World premiere of T. Lang Dance Company’s  performance of Post Up.  The cast of nine extraordinary women were uniformly exposed in white bras and cherry red leggings.   The uniformity brought to mind a complex woman or many women in a similar situation, perhaps battered or in a prison.  An inquiry later enhanced by zig-zagged projections on the fabric we were looking through.  The tastefully sparse costumes highlighted the performers’ beauty and I was reminded of how majestic women are, in all iterations, with different curves, hair lengths, textures and hues of skin.

The tone in this screened in cage was desperate, sad and played with themes of struggle and vulnerability but through it all a feminine strength became apparent.  Not only through the athleticism of these prodigious artistic athletes but in an instinctual comradery that naturally exists between woman, especially at times of crisis.

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