Savion Glover’s ‘SoLe Sanctuary:’ An Homage to the Late Great Tappers
Hailed as the “greatest tap dancer who ever lived,” Savion Glover will bring more than thrilling footwork to the Arsht Center this Saturday. His latest project “SoLe Sanctuary” is a “meditation” on the dance form that he says is his life — and an homage to the late dance greats, who paved the way. Performing with him is Miami’s own Marshall Davis Jr., a long-time collaborator and like Glover, an accomplished torchbearer of the hoofing tradition. “SoLe Sanctuary’ rekindles the legacies of Gregory Hines, Steve Condos and Sammy Davis Jr., among other tap icons who left an indelible mark on the dance world and American society at various eras. The touring show is intimate and features a candlelit stage and a white-clothed human prop who meditates on stage for the duration of Glover and Davis’ rhythmic sequences. As critics have said, the stage is literally an altar for the late legends. “People will enjoy themselves,” says 39-year-old Glover. For Davis, coming back to where he got his start makes the show even more heartfelt. “I’m really looking forward to it. When I left, the Adrienne Arsht Center didn’t exist,” says the 35-year-old, who resides in New York. Both Glover and Davis rose to stardom as child prodigies. Glover, with his signature dreaded hair and joyful animation, was credited for reinventing tap dance with his hard-hitting style and improvisational choreography, a groundbreaking fusion of jazz, hip-hop, be-bop, and world music patterns and rhythms. The two-time Tony Award winner has enjoyed an illustrious career on Broadway, television and motion pictures, including starring roles with his trainer and mentors Gregory Hines and Sammy Davis, Jr. Similarly Davis, trained by the late Condos, performed in the award-winning “Bring in ‘da Noise, Bring in ‘da Funk” on Broadway (the show that gave Glover a Tony Award) and Disney’s Oscar-winning motion picture “Happy Feet,” which was choreographed by Glover. Before heading to Miami, Glover spoke to Artburst about what he and Davis hope to convey through ‘SoLe Sanctuary.’ AB: Could you explain the concept of “SoLe Sanctuary.” Glover: The concept is basically an opportunity for myself and Marshall to pay homage to the men and women who came before us and some of the greatest contributors, the greatest expressionists and greatest dancers we’ve had. All of my productions are dedicated to them, but this is the first one that speaks to that point and that the audience can hear better. It’s mostly improvisation and an evening of meditation. It’s like that person is meditating to the sound of the dance and thinking about and praying for the women and men that the production is about. If I wasn’t dancing, that’s what I would be doing. It’s like subconsciously, I am that person. How has it felt to have worked personally with such dance greats who have passed on.? Do you feel a renewed drive to carry the torch? It’s motivating. It’s everything. It gives me more of a sense of purpose. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think of them. They are my life. They are my teachers, my fathers, my friends. Tap dance is seemingly less prevalent than other performance art. Do you feel that it’s a challenge to keep it relevant? I’ve been hearing this my entire 32-year journey, but to us it’s alive. Tap is as popular as the individual chooses it to be. Since there has been air and gravity, there has been tap dance. Besides touring for “SoLe Sanctuary,” are there any upcoming productions, movies or collaborations that you are working on? I’m not working on any movies or anything. I am continuing to work at my craft. As far as collaborations, all of the people who I’ve wanted to collaborate with have already passed on, like Michael Jackson, John Coltrane and Miles Davis. Maybe I would do a collaboration with Sade or Anita Baker. But I’m pretty cool and grateful that I’ve been able to collaborate with the ones who I have collaborated with. You emerged as hip hop music hit its stride and many associated you with that generation. But given your work with the likes of Hines and Sammy Davis, you were also perceived as the bridge between the old and new. Do you see yourself in that role and do you make an intentional effort to connect with younger generations? I am doing what I set out to do. I’m not gearing my work to any generation. Every generation has their own following. It’s obvious that people of my generation will be aware of me. Tap dance is loved by all. But I do not wish to associate what I do with hip hop. Now, because I grew up listening to that music at a point in my career it was very aggressive, but I’ve moved far passed that. My dance is universal. Showtime for “SoLe Sanctuary” is 8:00 p.m., April 6, at the Knight Concert Hall at the Arsht Center for Performing Arts, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami. Tickets cost $50 to $125. For more information, visit www.knightfoundation.org or call 305-949-6722.