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Savion Glover

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After an extremely difficult week I needed an uplift and treated myself to Savion Glover's "Classical Savion" at the Irvine (California) Barclay theatre. I feel much better! The Thursday LATimes has a wonderful review of the performance titled "Inventing a modern classic"; unfortunately I'm such a computer klutz I can't find it on-line.

Glover truly marches (dances) to the beat of a different drummer. In a few selections (all to classical music) he danced to the beat, but most of the time he found rhythms deeeeeep within the music, a study in what's in the music that most of us don't hear. His style is his own. It's visceral much of the time, just gut-renching. Port de bras? Rarely. Usually his hands hang to his side, maybe curled at hip length (first position?), and if he does gesture it's almost sophomoric. You get so used to his style that you forget that you're listening to non-stop rapid-fire taps with a minimum of effort. He can be tapping at machine gun pace with little motion other than shifting position from one foot to the other; his feet move so little that it seems impossible that they can produce any noise/tap at all. Since I'm a mathematician and like dance to the beat, his dance to Mozart's Divertimento in D major was my favorite; I was in tears. There were others to music that was a bit atonal that were beyond my knowledge, yet beautiful. I had a wonderful time; if the production comes to your area I recommend it.

The audience. Most of his dancing, while sensational, could be subtle with little motion as I mentioned above. If he got into a jazzy section, or something that involved motion (I won't even [/b]go into jumping) the audience would go bananas and applaud.....and then we couldn't hear the taps. Jeez! The performance started 10 minutes late, and even at that people came in after the performance started. What are they thinking? A dramatic late entrance? It says 3p.m.; get there on time. There were no intermissions so late-comers were seated.

Ok, now I really feel better.


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Thank you, Giannina, for reviewing this performance and for your great description of his physical presence. I was hoping that "Classical Savion" would be the program he brought to the Moore Theater in Seattle this past March, but alas, it was not. I hope he returns with it.

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I was hoping that "Classical Savion" would be the program he brought to the Moore Theater in Seattle this past March, but alas, it was not.  I hope he returns with it.

Oh, me too -- I would love to see him in that program.

Though, honestly, I'd watch him dance to the Oscar Meyer Weiner song. I love his work.

And yes, Giannina, it just makes me cranky when people applaud in the middle of a riff -- if they don't want to listen they don't have to, but I really want to hear what he's doing.

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I love Savion as well, but have come to the conclusion that he is a percussionist, rather than a dancer. He does go "deeeeep" into the music to uncover and reveal the embedded rhythms, but it is without concern for line or shape or composition.

After I first saw him, when he was a kid, I thought, "hooray, we're going to have our very own Fred Astaire," but it was not to be......and I guess that's only right, as "That was then and this is Now." But I still could use a little top hat, white tie and tails, or at least the contemporary, ELEGANT equivalent.

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I see what you mean, ViolinConcerto, but in a sense you’re comparing apples and oranges. Astaire was a dancer from the world of musical comedy, what we just call musicals today, not a pure tap dancer in the way Honi Coles was and Glover is. And a career like Astaire’s wouldn’t be possible today in any case....... :(

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  Astaire was a dancer from the world of musical comedy, what we just call musicals today, not a pure tap dancer in the way Honi Coles was and Glover is.

Very interesting distinction, and yes, I think you're dead on. There's a big difference between pure tap and musical theater dance. The earlier comment (that Glover is a percussionist) come close to what I understand many tappers often think of themselves -- they are musicians.

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Here’s the review by Lewis Segal that Giannina refers to. A quote below:


Dancing with his back to the audience in the first moment of Bach's third "Brandenburg" Concerto, Glover launched jazzy call-and-response patterns with the instrumentalists, layering in some incredibly fast, sustained tapping as a kind of obbligato, but also reinforcing the structure of the music with basketball-style jumps in place. As a dialogue with the music — present and past, S.G. and J.S.B. — it was sublime.
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I have not had a chance to read your other postings, but would respectfully like to make these comments beforehand.

Went to see Savion last night in Detroit. I thought he and the musicians were brilliant. Woke up this morning and said to myself, "You aren't going to see such a genius performance of this kind again for a long time. Let's see it again. This is something exceptional!"

Went to Sunday matinee. Lots of children present. This is the acid test. Classical Savion ok. Second half of free-form jazz, I wonder?

Little girl in front of me is falling asleep about 15 minutes into the Classical Segment.

"Booooom!!!"...Savion explodes into one of his mega-speed sequences. Little girl is wide awake!! I believe she remained that way until end of show, enjoying it all as far as I could tell.

OK, what about an hour of free-form jazz?? (Flashback. After finishing the Vivaldi to a thunderous audience approval, Savion looks out to the audience and asks how everyone feels. Audience response, "Fine!!!" Savion's reponse, "Me Too!!!" Then things just kept accelerating.)

"OK, what about an hour of free-form jazz??"

Well this had nothing to do with the night before. Savion took this segment up to another level. It sailed!! It was powerful and it was Happy! In my opinion it got an "OK for Little Children" rating and I don't hand out this rating very often.

Actually Savion only danced this segment for a half hour, instead of a full hour, like the night before...but what dancing!!! Nonstop dynamism of the highest order!

I think there's still some Sesame Street left in this grown-up performing genius, and all I can say is "More power to you!"

For a more critical analysis of this amazing performance, well maybe when I catch my breath in a week or two.

It was a wonderful afternoon! java script:emoticon(':)')

Edited by Buddy
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