January 17, 2011
By Jason Misner
COMMUNICATIONS OFFICER, HDSB STAFF
With a few hundred Heritage Glen students quietly glued to the gymnasium floor, they looked at a makeshift stage complete with plastic drums, steel tubs, buckets of water, plastic bats and other neat materials. With the students not knowing what to expect, Troy Sexton walked in, rhythmically clapping his hands and not saying a single word while scanning the room.
Dressed in a T-shirt, jeans and a ball cap turned backward, he made his way to the stage. Sexton began stomping his feet, harder and then faster. Before the students could even react, the young performer exploded into a ball of energy, making heavy sounds with his feet and legs in a driving movement, never really stopping.
Moments later, his partner Greg Woolner emerged, doing much of the same. Working in tandem, they were performing a routine from Stomp, the popular Broadway musical, and the students and staff loved every stomping minute of it.
“We’re just trying to spread the word that music is everywhere,” Sexton says, adding music can be found by simply playing metal trash cans.
Music and more specifically, dance, was the basis of the duo’s December visit. They performed the kind of acts they have done as members of Stomp.
The school was looking for an arts production that was unique and engaging for students that supports the province's new dance curriculum. The creative percussion and dance presentation, coupled with the hands-on workshops for Heritage Glen PS intermediate students met this goal.
In the afternoon workshops, the Grade 8s learned stomp and drumming techniques. They worked in groups to create their own spontaneous rhythms.
The new dance curriculum stresses creative movement, the creative and critical analysis process and an understanding of the elements of dance through participation in various dance experiences.
Heritage Glen PS Vice-principal Beverly Cox helped secure the visit by the Stomp performers. The idea came after attending a stomp workshop at the Council of Drama and Dance Educators conference last fall.
“I thought their program would engage our students,” she said.
Principal Brent Phillips says the performance certainly galvanized the students and made dancing look and feel even more fun and enjoyable.
“The Stomp performers brought energy to their performance that really promoted the arts. It was a non-traditional dance presentation that broadened students' experience with percussion and performance art,” Phillips says. “The interactive sessions with our older students provided an opportunity for them to try some of the techniques that they observed the professionals doing in the show. We hope our students increased their awareness and understanding of varied and culturally-relevant dance styles.”