Atlanta schoolkids feel - and make - the rhythm with 'Stomp'


The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Thursday, January 29, 2009

For eight minutes Thursday afternoon, 6-year-old Kevon London was a rock star. With a few of his classmates at the Atlanta Speech School, Kevon joined four cast members of Stomp,the internationally acclaimed percussion show that’s at the Fox Theatre this week.

Kevon deftly played a bucket-turned-drum on the school auditorium stage in front of nearly 200 stomping students, often twirling his drum sticks through his left hand.

“Cool” summed up his reaction afterward.

Asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, Kevon said he wanted to be an astronaut.

Pregnant pause.

“And a drummer.”

The 12-member touring cast of Stomp makes it a point to perform at schools around the country. What made Thursday’s performance even more special: Most of the nearly 200 students are either deaf or hard of hearing or have learning disabilities like dyslexia.

Some couldn’t hear the music.

They felt it.

For an hour, they snapped, clapped, hooped and hollered — and stomped.

“Great,” 8-year-old Gabrielle Frates raved.

“It was good,” agreed Stephen Shin, age “5 and a half.”

The interactive performance showed the children, from kindergarten to sixth grade, “that anything’s possible, that they can be anything they want to be,” said STOMP performer Nicholas Van Young.

“For them to see the body as an instrument was incredible,” said Atlanta Speech School executive director Comer Yates, who also took to the stage with a steel trash can strapped to his waist. Seeing these kids so engaged “makes me feel like we’re doing our job.”


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