By Larry Reni Thomas
Savion Glover, the earthy, energetic, fast-moving, tap dancer, will bring his dance performance program, SoLe Sanctuary: Hoofer’s Meditation On The Art Of Tap!, a tribute to his “teachers and mentors,” to Page Auditorium, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, at 8:00 pm, January 23, 2013. He will be appearing with his long-time partner, the equally-talented, innovative Marshall Davis, Jr.
“Every dance I do I pay homage to them,” said Glover, during a telephone interview from the Newark, New Jersey studio of his dance company HooFeRzCLuB. “But, this performance pays direct homage to the masters who I was fortunate enough to meet when I was young. They took me under their wings and filled a void. I grew up in a home with a single parent. My father left early. So, dancers like Jimmy Slyde, Lon Chaney, Gregory Hines, Sammy Davis, Jr., Buster Brown, Diane Walker, Honi Coles, and Henry Le Tang stepped in and filled that void. They not only taught me how to be a dancer, but, they taught me how to be a better human being.”
Savion Glover, 39, a Newark native, has been performing professionally since he was 10-years-old when he appeared on Broadway in “The Tap Dance Kid (1985).” His other Broadway shows were “Black And Blue (1989),” “Jelly’s Last Jam (1992),” and “Bring In Da Noise, Bring In Da Funk (1996)” for which he won a Tony Award. Glover’s talents were recognized and nurtured early in life. His grandmother, Anna Lundy Lewis was the minister of music at Newpoint Baptist Church in Newark and she was the first to notice that Savion had a bright creative future ahead of him. His grandfather, Bill Lewis, was a big band pianist and vocalist. He grew up in a household where there was music all the time.
“I love the early so-called jazz, like Duke Ellington, Count Basie, “ he said. “But, my passion is Trane. John Coltrane. I love John Coltrane’s music! I was first introduced to him at a very early age and I think it was a bit too much for me then. Somebody gave me a copy of Trane “Live At The Village Vanguard.” I was a little taken back. I didn’t understand it then. I said to myself: ‘What is this stuff?” Later, when I was in California, a good friend of mine turned me on to some Trane I could deal with at that time. Cuts like “Giant Steps,” “My Favorite Things” all of Trane’s music.”
According to Savion, this reintroduction to John Coltrane’s music helped him a great deal because it reinforced his commitment to continue the legacy of tap dancing that had been performed by the masters who came before him. He said he performs tap dancing like “an instrument,” like any other instrument, like a horn, guitar, piano, in a musical composition. He contended that dance matches the music and the music matches dance. His SoLe Sanctuary is a sincere effort to please his ancestors and is a continuation of the history of tap dancing, and its close relationship to black music. He said it is his duty to carry on the tradition.
“One of my greatest thrills was performing with the pianist McCoy Tyner,” he said. “It was like a thunderous roar. Whew! I always look forward to performing with him. It was just such a wonderful experience. I look forward to working with him in the near future. My schedule is pretty full. I vaguely remember coming to Durham in 2008. This performance will be a little different. This one is for the masters. I try to stay busy. My motto is ‘Have shoes will dance!”
SoLe Sanctuary is a on a special scheduled tour, beginning on January 11, in Red Bank, New Jersey, at the Count Basie Theater; in Boston (1/12); in Morristown, NJ (1/18); in Englewood, NJ (1/19); in Fairfax, Va. (1/20); and Durham, NC (1/23). After the Duke University date, the two tap dancers are scheduled to take their talents and traditions to Cullowhee, North Carolina (1/24) and Germantown, Tennessee (1/25).
For more information about Savion Glover’s SoLe Sanctuary appearance at Duke University call Page Auditorium box office at (919) 684-4444.