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By Patricia Boccadoro

PARIS, 30 SEPTEMBER 2012 — The phenomenal hard-hitting American tap-dancer, singer and actor, Savion Glover, left the audience divided at the Theatre de la Ville in June. Many, not having read the programme and perhaps believing him to invent a new version of Swan Lake, left the theatre hurriedly soon after the show began, while the rest of the crowded auditorium cheered him wildly between sequences and at each complicated slide, twist and jump. They clapped and clapped, roaring their approval as Glover delivered an exceptional show for almost one and a half hours, stopping only to wipe the sweat off his face. What made this show different from any other was his association with the Spanish and Argentinian Flamenco musicians, Gabriel Hermida and Christopher Cinfron.

Savion Glover

The evening began with the dancer, seemingly immobile, upon a raised amplified podium, accompanied by a loud percussive sound which one gradually realized came from his barely moving, metal-soled feet which stayed close to the floor. He was simply dressed in well-cut slacks, with a loose dark shirt, and alone on stage apart from his two musicians. There was no decor, no disruptive lighting effects, and the show had neither theme nor story, but the audience was enthralled by the inventiveness, speed, and sheer power of his steps.

In a sense, it was more music than dance, with the rapid hammering of his feet very much in the spirit of the Flamenco songs and music. Tap-dance, as Glover pointed out, is very close to percussion while each step, or tap on the floor, has something to say in the same way as Flamenco, where the dance is also highly charged. To be sure, this was no Fred Astaire gliding smoothly around the ballroom enlaced by a partner in a foamy white dress. Rather, this incorporated Afro-Caribbean movements, and his partner, when he arrived, was the lean and lanky Marshall Davis Jr., an excellent dancer as well, the pair of them drawing their inspiration more from the Nicholas Brothers and the legendary Gregory Hines who illuminated such films as Cotton Club and White Nights. Their complex syncopated phrasing, a conversation between two pairs of feet, drew loud cheers from an appreciative audience. 

Savion Glover: SoLo iN TiME

Born in New Jersey, U.S.A. in 1973, Glover showed a precocious interest in rhythm, taking percussion lessons at the age of 4. After a nomination for a Tony Award at the age of fifteen, he made his film debut in 1989 in Tap, alongside another of his heroes, Sammy Davis Jr., after which he began creating his first choreography, since when he never seems to have stopped moving. After having brought tap-dancing bang up to date in the United States, Glover now seems all set to conquer Europe with his exciting Solo iN TiME.

Patricia Boccadoro writes on dance in Europe. She has contributed to The Guardian, The Observer and Dancing Times and was dance consultant to the BBC Omnibus documentary on Rudolf Nureyev. Based in Paris,  Patricia Boccadoro is the dance editor for Culturekiosque.

Related Culturekiosque Archives

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Flamenco: Antonio Marquez and Company

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Related Article in French and photos: L'art du Flamenco et Portrait d'Agujetas

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