Thursday, May 29, 2003

Beat poetry

Movie: Pulse: A STOMP Odyssey

Posted on Thu, May 29, 2003 at 4:00 AM

Our Rating: 4.00

The producers and performers of the rhythm-based, Off Broadway-smash STOMP troupe have taken a fascinating step toward acknowledging their influences by creating a globe-trotting IMAX journey called "Pulse: A STOMP Odyssey."

The genius of the film is the connection it makes between STOMP's industrial rhythms and global, heartbeat-based tempos, such as the sounds of African dancers, Japanese kodo drummers and Spanish flamenco musicians.

In one compelling scene, a troupe member takes a turn at the thigh-slapping art of hambone, followed by a scene of South African gumboot dancers, stomping and slapping without peer. Another shows how the human-beatbox noises made by STOMP star Keith "Wild Child" Middleton engage tabla player Shafaatullah Khan to counter with his rapid-fire spoken syllables called bols, used for teaching hand-drumming in Indian music.

The least impressive performers are the STOMPers themselves. On a stage or the big screen, the entertainers create sounds with their feet, bodies and objects like garbage cans and soda bottles. But the switch from hip-hop dancing on a New York City rooftop to the blood-stirring South African Moremogolo Tswana Traditional Dancers, with shell shakers rattling on their ankles, opens eyes as to where the world's rhythms came from -- and who does them better.

The mind-numbingly enormous screen lends itself to spectacle. Close your eyes as the camera swoops down over Red Rock Canyon to light on Native American dancers in a giant stone circle. And the image, and sound, of 200 top-hat-wearing Timbalada drummers in the slums of Brazil, vibrant and life-affirming amid the intense poverty, sent a chill up my spine.

There are flaws in the film and the presentation: It's impossible to show a flat vista on a giant curved dome, and the distortions are a bit distracting at times. Also, the underwater sequence is just plain bizarre. But presented on the nine-story Dr. Phillips CineDome at the Orlando Science Center, the film is impressive for the sights and sounds of the wondrous beats the world has to offer.


We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Orlando Weekly. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Orlando Weekly, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Orlando Weekly works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Central Florida.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Orlando’s true free press free.


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Read the Digital Print Issue

March 3, 2021

View more issues


© 2021 Orlando Weekly

Website powered by Foundation