Dancer Riley Korrell recounts his experiences with the “STOMP” troupe in interview.
On Friday, March 6, the international sensation, “STOMP,” came to the Tulsa Performing Arts Center. The show is a completely original and unique experience that combines elements of music, dance and comedy to create an ultimately unforgettable performance for audiences.
Originally from Maryland, Riley Korrell — one of the eight members of the “STOMP” troupe — is a tap instructor and has performed at numerous iconic venues including The Discovery Theater at the Smithsonian and the Kennedy Center Honors. Korrell represented the United States in national competitions as a member of the American Tap Team and has a strong passion for performing arts. Korrell auditioned for “STOMP” for the first time about three years ago, and although he made it to the month-long training session, he didn’t get a spot in the show. However, last September, he was recommended for a callback where he auditioned again with 11 other dancers and he got the job. He has now been in the company for two and a half months.
Korrell became interested in dancing because his mother owned and ran a studio in his hometown in Maryland. He grew up dancing, first and foremost as a way to stay out of trouble. Tap caught his attention after an injury in the fifth grade, after which he was unable to walk for six months and lost essentially all of his flexibility. When he came back to dancing, he chose to focus on tap and hip-hop rather than be an all-around dancer as before. Korrell said that “STOMP” has been by far the most rewarding experience he’s been involved with in terms of dancing. He said that traveling the country and getting to really bond with his amazing castmates has been indescribable.
As for Korrel’s plans for the future, the “STOMP” tour is currently scheduled until May 10 of this year. After that it’s possible to get another performance contract in New York, or, if there’s a start up tour somewhere, that could have potential for him as well. He currently has no idea what his future holds and said that he’s just going to savor every moment of “STOMP.”
The name “STOMP” may hint at a strictly dance-based performance, but in reality the show is so much more than that. The opening number featured percussive melodies made entirely with brooms and segwayed into a tap dance routine with the entire troupe. If a broom broke, the dancers merely threw the pieces off stage and were tossed a new one.
It was a truly multi-sensory experience. There was lighting specifically designed to play up the shadows of the performers on the auditorium walls. There was an entire segment of the show that focused on making beats with flip lighters, which also played upon the aspect of visual performance. The show was extremely comedic, despite there being no spoken words the entire evening. There was a dialogue between the performers and the audience that existed solely out of mimicking patterns with clapping.
These performers are incredible. The genuine talent is one thing but also the need for rhythm, musicianship, artistry and athleticism made this show one of the most entertaining and evocative performances I’ve ever experienced. The iconic moment where members of the troupe were hanging off of the rafters playing a myriad of used items — trash cans, PVC pipes and empty pots and pans — left my jaw dropped for a full ten minutes. The Boston Globe sums it up best: “If you haven’t seen ‘STOMP,’ go! If you have seen it, take someone and share the pleasure!”