I went with a couple of my roommates tonight to see a tap dance performance. One roommate is a dancer herself, the other is a dance enthusiast. I am a fan of live performances and broadening my horizons and getting out of the house (not necessarily in that order.) I have always enjoyed dance but am not well-versed in styles or steps. My experiences with tap are largely influenced by the MGM musicals school of dance, the Fred Astaires and Gene Kelleys making huge fluid motions across a vast sound stage. Leaps, turns, jazz hands, staircases, tables, couches, city streets all being utilized to the utmost.
What Savion Glover does is nothing like that and exactly like that at the same time.
He came out on the basically empty stage (just a small raised platform and some speakers) wearing a hoodie and danced for a sold hour and a half in honor of Treyvon Martin. He paused long enough to share the stage with a couple of partners and to make some basic introductions but other than that he moved. And moved. And moved. The sweat literally pouring off of him, visible halfway back in the audience where we were seated he moved like nothing I have ever seen, or heard, before.
Where I was expecting wild arms and leg kicks he stayed practically still from the waist up, his feet making the most incredible sounds while remaining in almost the same spot on the stage for the whole first 20 minutes. Instead of gesturing and relying on movement to portray the art, he focused on the sounds to get his point across. There were sounds that reminded me of a herd of galloping horses, a rapid fire machine gun, soft shoe shuffles, and drums, drums, drums. He was loud, soft, measured and precise and wildly intricate. When he was joined by his colleagues they sometimes tapped in perfect unison, one sound made by four feet, and other times played off of each other's rhythms riffing like an improvised jazz jam session, using syncopation and counterpoint in ways I never knew possible. It was raw and almost bestial in its intensity, not at all polished but perfect and precise in an urban Stomp sort of way. And a completely enjoyable way to spend an evening.
I guess he's been around for quite some time training with the likes of Gregory Hines and Sammy Davis, Jr. and performing on Broadway and even providing the choreography for Happy Feet as well as the motion capture for Mumble's dance moves. He's quite the talented guy. Gregory Hines called him the greatest tap dancer of all time. I think that's a pretty valid statement. You can color me muy impressed. Check him out.
This is far more 'traditional' and mobile than what he did tonight but it gives you a taste of the talent this guy has. Kinda makes you wanna dance, huh?
Shout out to the roommies for broadening my horizons and introducing me to an incredible performer. (And yes, getting me out of the house!)