Hip-hop and Weetabix: An Interview with Stomp’s Omari Carter
"We use the U-bend you find on toilets"
Omari Carter is the founder of Screendance production company, The Motion Dance Collective, and has been independently choreographing and teaching styles within hip hop culture for the last 8 years
A first class honours in Performing Arts at London Metropolitan University opened the way for Omari to choreograph and perform in several dance-specific adverts and music videos - including the recent Weetabix ‘Dancer’ advert and music video, ‘Turn Me Up Some’ by Stanton Warriors. He is passionate about working with different cultures and traditions, while also furthering his own practice through collaboration with filmmakers, dancers and other interdisciplinary artists.
Talk us through the Weetabix advert…
It was one of the first jobs I got after university! It was choreographing and also being part of the Weetabix bears! It was a double workload! I was really happy, the producer was the mother of one of the kids I was teaching, I taught a lot of community dance from the age of 16, so she really wanted someone new and fresh to choreograph the advert and put my name forward.
Did you know Stomp before you were cast in it?
Yes, I had a VHS of Stomp Out Loud from the age of about 8 (I watched it alongside The Muppets Christmas Carol); so I followed Stomp ever since that point.
Stomp and The Muppets…
Yes! And Michael Jackson…they were the three things I kept sticking into my video player!
How do you describe Stomp?
It’s quite hard to describe. I like to say it’s rhythmic performance art – I think that’s coming from my university studies. There’s comedy and there’s character, and I think that’s what drives the show – along with the music of course.
There is a story in it isn’t there?
I would more describe it as having relationships in it rather than an actual solidified story. Everyone has a different relationship with each other.
Was there ever any pressure from producers to make it more music theatre – high kicks and Jazz hands?
Not at all. We would learn the numbers and then be put into the show and allowed to find our own characters within the realms and boundaries of the music. It’s unlike any other show I’ve been a part of; you’re free to find yourself within the music.
What about the new dances for this Stomp tour?
We have a couple of new routines. ‘Trolleys’ is one of the new ones – we use supermarket trolleys for that. We also make use of the U-bend you find on toilets; we call that routine ‘Frogs’ because they have that ribbit sound!
Do things ever go wrong?
We make mistakes and we might drop things – we’re only human! When that does happen it’s all about trying to fix it and working together as a team to get through it.
Is it a difficult show to tour?
It can be. Each stage is a different size and we travel pretty much every week so we have to readjust to the stage, area and culture of the people – every place is different; the things audiences are attracted to in comedy or music can differ quite a lot. I wouldn’t say it’s too difficult; you become more adaptable, it makes you a stronger performer.
What’s next for you after Stomp?
I make dance films. I’ve been doing that on the side with my Screendance production company, The Motion Dance Collective, so I want to keep developing that.
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