In Seattle show, Savion Glover dances at the altar of tap
With Marshall Davis, the legendary dancer puts his reverence for his craft and his mentors on stage.
Seattle Times theater critic
Savion Glover is a dance genius who plays by his own rules. But as inventive, funkified and adventuresome as his virtuoso brand of hoofing is, Glover also carries in every step the legacy of the late, great jazz tap dancers who mentored him from the time he was a child prodigy — and whom he appeared with in Broadway shows like "Black and Blue" and "The Tap Dance Kid."
In his latest piece, "SoLe Sanctuary," which he performed Friday at the Moore Theatre, Glover (now in his late 30s) departs from such recent experiments as tapping to classical and flamenco music.
At the Moore, he conjured a shrine of ancestral spirits and lingered there for a good 90 minutes of nearly nonstop dancing — a medium he describes as a conduit for "prayer and celebration."
Terrific fellow tapper Marshall Davis joined Glover intermittently, in an homage to past musical and departed hoofer heroes (Gregory Hines, Jimmy Slyde, Sammy Davis Jr.) who gazed down on the proceedings from poster-sized photos suspended above the stage.
Spooky at times, often exhilarating, laced with bravado and an aching sense of loss, ruminative to the edge of tedium in spots, "SoLe Sanctuary" was certainly no formal recitation of great moves from the golden age of jazz tap.
Instead, Glover brilliantly incorporated into his tour-de-force opus stylistic bits and pieces from those venerated ancestors — whipsawing arms, one-legged turns, sharp breaks, heavy stomps, light-footed travels, and always the gorgeously articulate heel, toe, sole and scrape tap clusters that make the best hoofers the equal of jazz percussionists.
A spare soundscape is used in much of the piece, poetically looping in (hard to make out) words from Glover and a touching remark made by Hines at the funeral of Sammy Davis Jr. And, cryptically, a silent woman sat silent and cross-legged on the stage throughout the show, like a meditating muse.
But there was nothing esoteric about Glover's earthy/refined dancing. How could there be? Braids flying, white suit flapping, and often a smile of pure euphoria on his face, Glover polished off one cool groove after another — setting down a simple rhythmic pattern, working it, working it. And then breaking out into some glorious surprise burst of syncopated fever.
His inspired passion was especially potent in his ante-upping dance-offs with Davis, and in a grand, joyous rip through a famous John Coltrane tune, "Resolution."
"I want my dance to be like ... Coltrane," Glover once told an interviewer. "I want to reach a place where my dance goes beyond tap dancing — just sound in its truest form." A lofty ambition. And one he's already reached.
Misha Berson: email@example.com