Vol. 20 No. 16 • April 17 - 23, 2014 In Our 17th Year Serving Greater Hamilton
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Stomp And Shen Yun: Start Your Year Right

by Robin Pittis
January 2 - 8, 2014
Stomp, on January 7 & 8, and the Shen Yun Performing Arts show on January 11 & 12 both promise to blow the cobwebs from the lighting catwalks at Hamilton Place, and ring in 2014 with remarkable beauty and independent creativity.

    Stomp rocks – in case you’ve been living under one and haven’t heard about the bohemian found-object rhythm orgy, or seen the famous “bin” Heineken ad. This is the famous show where broomsticks become full body drum sticks, garbage can lids and steel toe boots become multi-limbed percussion sets, and the beat becomes for an evening the only language that matters.

    Practically speaking, it’s a wholly captivating and brilliantly ingenious work of performance that will surprise and delight, if you’ve never seen it before. This is breathtakingly neato, and it’s extremely unlikely you will regret investing in a ticket.

    Philosophically speaking, it has got rich roots as well, for those inclined to mine a good time for the meaning beneath it. By turning boring everyday objects into tools of rhythm ritual, Stomp restores magic and mystery to the mundane.

    By taking a purely functional and insignificant modern day detail and elevating it to a source of universal joy, Stomp creators Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas, do what post-modern philosophers try to do with essays and tracts – namely proving that truth is far, far more a matter of perspective than we usually remember. Junk is treasure, work is joy, and simple percussion can be bliss.

    Stomp has roots in the United Kingdom, which is kind of delightful if you think about it. From a nation that has given us some of the best verbiage available to what is now, like it or not, the world’s international language comes a theatrical event that is totally free of the spoken word.

    With its roots in street performance and theatre Festivals like the Edinburgh Fringe, Stomp is to Brighton, what Cirque du Soleil is to Montreal. With several touring companies now working the globe, a show in Vegas and a few cinematic and Imax incarnations, this is clearly a model that captures something essential about being alive and being human. We are, after all the musical and tool using species.


The Shen Yun Performing Arts show will be as deeply engaging and astonishing a performance as Stomp, though in a vastly more complex way. This promises to be an exquisite example of a rich and dedicated cultural tradition. Talented dancers, acrobats, and vocalists in costumes of eye popping intricacy and richness and expert musical accompaniment are guaranteed. The sets promise to transport take you as close to another dimension as we can go, currently, barring the use of chemicals. Your chi will get work out just watching them – and your karma will improve effortlessly.

    This is to say that the Shen Yun is in no way a product of the Chinese Communist Party – quite the opposite, these artists are engaged not only in the creation of physical and sonic beauty, but the even deeper beauty of spiritual integrity. Shen Yun means ‘divine rhythm’, and the name harkens back to a time when China was called the ‘divine land’.

    This is an artist founded, independent, and non profit effort – and that doesn’t mean it’s the scrabbled together unfunded desperate activism western dissidents are forced to resort to. This is a show with dozens of artists and a symphony orchestra that tours all over the globe annually.

    In short this is Chinese culture we can applaud without sticking it to the Dalai Lama, or ignoring the brutal oppression of the Falun Dafa; a brutality so pervasively suppressed it’s a little akin to living through the holocaust or the Stalinist pogroms during the television era without knowing anything about them. The Shen Yun website outlines a pretty staggering array of Chinese government attempts to subvert, undermine and destroy this project. It is utterly bewildering that a secular government would be so threatened by a spiritual movement.

    In even shorter – you won’t find a more pleasurable way to be progressive this January.

    With both Cirque du Soleil’s Varekai and Craig Fergusson this month – HECFI are well on their way to redefining January as the best month of the year! Take that, winter!

JANUARY 7 & 8, 7:30pm

Jan. 11 at 2 PM & Jan 12 at 2 & 7:30
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