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'Stomp' returns to Benedum Center for eight-performance run

Words and singing play no role in the show "Stomp," an international touring success story now in its 16th season. It is a force of nature built out of percussion and dance, with lots of attitude and energy.

"Stomp" returns Tuesday to the Benedum Center, Downtown, for an eight-performance run, including weekend matinees.

"Whatever the audience members watching the show get for themselves, everyone walks away with a different story line. It's more a journey than a story," says Justin Myles, one of the eight-member troupe coming to Pittsburgh. The tour also brings Myles back to the city where he learned his craft.

The show grew out of street performances in the early '90s in the United Kingdom by its creators, Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas. Rather than lug around heavy percussion instruments, they banged around on whatever was at hand. One of "Stomp's" signature routines is played on trashcans and lids and features comic dance.

"We travel with props," Myles says. "We make music with broomsticks and matchboxes, poles and hammers and a whole wall of junkyard trash we've picked up throughout the United States and Europe. Anything from a car hood to tires."

"Stomp" fans will find two new routines added to the current show. "In one, we use paint cans not only for making music but also for throwing to each other. It's all strategically coordinated to not hit us in the face, but we have had people go out with black eyes — but mainly in rehearsals," Myles says.

He's in awe himself of "Donuts," the other new piece. He says he stands in the middle of a 6-foot-wide tractor tire, which he hits "with a glorified drum stick in a caveman grip. The sound is thunderous."

Myles, 28, began tap dancing when he was 3 and began playing drums when he was 7. He also plays bass and piano. But he says his work at Point Park University, where from 2000 to 2005 he earned a bachelor of arts in dance with concentrations in ballet and jazz, consolidated his interests and turned him into "a kick-ass performer."

"It definitely geared me up for stage performance," he says. "They have such an incredible curriculum and give you a great opportunity to perform on a monthly basis. College definitely made me a better, more well-rounded dancer. It prepared me mentally and physically for what to expect in the real world of entertainment."

"Stomp" is a full-time gig for Myles. He joined the show, which tours 10 months of the year, in 2006. He uses downtime on the road to write music, and has a new album called "This Genre" on iTunes.

The show runs an hour and a half or a little more. "It depends on how witty we're feeling that night and how pumped-up the audience is," Myles says. "We feed off the audience, and they feed off us. It's a very good relationship."

Additional Information:

Stomp

When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Sept. 17; 8 p.m. Sept. 18; 5 and 9 p.m. Sept. 19; 3 and 7 p.m. Sept. 20

Admission: $21-$49

Where: Benedum Center, Downtown

Details: 412-456-6666

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