STOMP returns to Ames

STOMP returns to Ames at 7:30 p.m. March 4 and 5 at Stephens Auditorium. 

Melissa Garrett

Creating unique sounds and rhythms with a combination of body percussion and comedic movements, STOMP returns to Ames with its North American tour at 7:30 p.m. March 4 and 5 at Stephens Auditorium.  

Making music with household and industrial objects, STOMP communicates wordlessly to worldwide audiences through dancing and unique percussion combinations. In the past 20 years, STOMP has performed in more than 50 countries for more than 24 million people.

Born and raised in Hawaii, veteran STOMPer Andres Fernandez has been performing with STOMP for 18 years. Fernandez went to Los Angeles with his older brother Johnny Fernandez, who encouraged him to audition in Los Angeles for multiple shows. Fernandez said music was always part of his life and he grew up singing, dancing and touring the Hawaiian Islands with his brother before becoming a member of STOMP.

“I know when I first saw the show I left the show hitting my car, honking on the horn, banging on the ceiling of the car, opening the window — that’s what STOMP leaves people doing,” Fernandez said.

As a self-taught dancer, Fernandez said his first few weeks of STOMP were rough and filled with sleepless nights.

“We came in from that breaking dance era in the ‘80s and had a break dance group, but I wasn’t really that good of a breaker,” Fernandez said. “When you get into the show, it’s a whole other learning process because you’re trying to create music with eight other guys and making sure we are playing the right numbers and are on the same page. “

Fernandez said STOMP is not a typical theatre show because every show is different. Shows are 75 percent written and 25 percent improvised with numerous solos that performers write themselves, according to Fernandez.

“STOMP is an exploration of sound. We make music with everyday objects: brooms, poles, trash cans, the kitchen sink and there’s a lot of drumming involved,” Fernandez said. “It’s not a musical. There’s no singing, no dialogue, no real story line — it’s just characters that you follow and that’s what makes it fun.”

With an hour of practice before every show, Fernandez said the challenge of being in STOMP is within the show and creating live music for a live theater.

“The challenge of playing solid music with eight people [is] really hard. The audience doesn’t know if we mess up,” Fernandez said.

Besides coordinating musical numbers with multiple performers, some stages are harder to perform on than others, so STOMPing on it can be physically taxing on the performers.

“We do a lot of 20-minute mandatory warmups to get our bodies warm and to try and prevent injuries,” Fernandez said. “Some people eat healthy [and] some people still eat Taco Bell and McDonald’s, so to each his own.”

Fernandez is one of four swing performers and switches between a couple of roles, while there are an additional eight performers with a single role in the show. Performers create their own characters’ personalities and try to make the audience, as well as each other, laugh.

“Music is all around us and that’s why STOMP has been [around] for so long. There’s no talking and everyone in the world can relate to it,” Fernandez said. “[STOMP] show[s] the world that there’s [music] in everything you see, in every object. Music is in everything.”

Tickets for the show are $33 for ISU students and range among $24, $39, $51 and $63 for other tickets. Tickets are available on Ticketmaster and can also be purchased from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday at the Stephens Auditorium ticket office.

Free Jeff’s Pizza and refreshments for ISU students will be provided before the show for all ISU student ticket holders at STOMP. Students must bring their ISU student ID for the event, which is hosted by the Stephens Street Team. Doors open at 6:45 p.m. for the event, which is located on the second floor balcony of Stephens Auditorium. 

As part of the Celebrity Café preview at Stephens Auditorium, local music educator Cynthia Marten will present insights about percussion techniques used in STOMP 30 minutes prior to the show. The preview is free and open to all ticket holders.

For more information about STOMP and ticket prices, visit the Iowa State Center’s Web Page for STOMP and STOMP’s tour website.