Making Noise | Night & Day | South Florida | Broward Palm Beach New Times | The Leading Independent News Source in Broward-Palm Beach, Florida

Making Noise

Ken Benjamin likes to bang on things. And he loves to dance.
With that in mind, the Deerfield Beach dancer auditioned two years ago for the touring company of Stomp, the off-Broadway hit in which performers use everything from trash-can lids to basketballs to pound out rhythms.

"I like to listen to a lot of different rhythmic stuff and practice it when I'm driving in my car," says Benjamin, age 31, who also plays drums. "Sometimes I jam with Joe Zeytoonian [a well-known local percussionist]," he says. "It's pretty therapeutic, and I also learn a lot at the same time, because he's a great musician."

His percussive and dancing talents qualified Benjamin for the Stomp show. But when the call came through to go on the road, he was recovering from a knee injury and didn't want to risk reinjury, so he declined. "They [Stomp's directors] said that I was basically still on the A list," Benjamin says.

"Each time we have an audition, we consider Ken," confirms Scott Willingham, associate casting director of Stomp, which originated in England in 1991.

A member of the Miami troupe Gerri Houlihan and Dancers, Benjamin certainly isn't in need of work. But, until that next call from Stomp comes through, he's itching to teach others the fine art of rhythmic movement.

The new Smash Dance class he's teaching at the University Center of the Performing Arts in Davie, "is very Stomp-esque, as far as rhythm and movement put together," explains Benjamin, who moved to South Florida from Barbados as a teen. "Breathing, beating on yourself, sounds from your voice, banging objects -- we'll use pretty much anything that we can think of that makes a noise. And we're going to incorporate movement into that."

The rhythm part, however, is purely up to the students, who are not required to have any dance background.

"I think a lot of it has to do with your being in touch with yourself and your own personal awareness, and being relaxed," contends Benjamin. To facilitate that relaxation, he'll start class with breathing exercises.

"And we're going to incorporate some improv with that," he says, "have the students, instead of trying to copy someone else's rhythm, use their own creativity within the structure that they've been given."

"Hopefully students will come away [from the class] feeling better about themselves artistically," continues Benjamin, who figures a majority of students will be "just people taking a fun class to be creative after their nine-to-five job, to get rid of the stress of the day."

-- John Ferri

KEEP NEW TIMES BROWARD-PALM BEACH FREE... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
John Ferri

Latest Stories