Critic's Notebook: Savion Glover returns to Atlanta
Savion Glover brings his legendary tap dancing to Atlanta's http://rialto.gsu.edu/event/savion-glover-sole-sanctuary/9905Rialto Center for the Arts this weekend for a performance of his meditative new work SoLe Sanctuary, one of the centerpiece performances of the National Black Arts Festival. CL caught up with Glover to chat about the show, his mentors in dance and the everyday (non)-routine of a tap dancer.
? Tell me about the show. I was interested to learn that it involves a shrine and a meditator on stage throughout the performance.
? SoLe Sanctuary is a production that allows me to give the audience the opportunity to witness my respect and gratitude for some of my mentors and educators in dance. I have pictures of some of these mentors; they're hanging around the stage. I don't know if you would consider it a shrine or not. I have a meditator upstage to give people the perspective that dance is a meditative state of mind, or can be a meditative state of mind. It allows the audience to see that whatever your approach to meditation is, this is just an additional approach, meditating to the sounds of tap dance or to the rhythms and the vibes of tap dance. It pays homage to my mentors, teachers, educators, and other contributors.
? You draw a comparison between dance and meditation. Is that how would you describe your experience of dancing onstage to someone who doesn't dance, as meditation?
? Your approach to anything can take you to a groove, a place of meditation. Cooking, exercising, riding a bike, whatever. They're different approaches to meditation. One of my approaches is to reach that point through tap dancing. Once we're able to distinguish between performing just for the sake of the audience and dancing or being in action that will reach a higher state of being, once you're able to do that, you can manifest or meditate to whatever your obsession is. That's what tap dancing does for me in this production. ?
? Could you name some of your mentors from the show and describe what they taught you?
? The main dancers that we have in this production are Steve Condos, Lon Chaney, Chuck Crain, Buster Brown Sammy Davis, Jr., Jimmy Slyde, and Gregory Hines. These were some of my closest mentors in dance. There are several others, but we chose these few to highlight. We pay tribute to them all. Why? Because they've given so much to me through their generosity in art, in sharing information in dance. I just took the opportunity to highlight them in this production. ?
? ?? I was interested to read in a New York Times review of SoLe Sanctuary that the critic noted your biography in the program just said "Censored."
? The New York Times is so fickle. I change my biography from time to time depending on the venue. I have a situation with the Joyce in New York. The time before last I mentioned something in my bio that they took offense to. The next time I didn't put in anything. It has nothing to do with the show. I don't pay much attention to bios. Those are just jokes to me. ?
? It's been a while since you've performed in Atlanta ...
? Yeah. I haven't been down there in a while. The last time I remember performing in Atlanta was at the Rialto in 2004, but we also did a production of Noise/Funk in the very early stages of the tour in 1998. ?
? For audiences who haven't see you in so long, how would you describe your style as having changed?
? My style is whatever I am at that particular point in my life. At one point, my style was very aggressive, sort of very much a part of my generation at the time. That was my approach to tap dance. Now that I've grown past that, my approach is quite different, whether that's in my spacial connection or in my relationship with different areas of music or sound. As I continue to grow and mature and evolve as a person so will my approach to dance. I can tell you my style today, but tomorrow it will be different because something will happen. My style is just on-going. ?
? What is the daily routine for a tap dancer?
? I don't know what a daily routine for a tap dancer is. I just live my life. I don't really have a daily routine. It's summertime so I may go swimming with my son or grab my ATV or do something like that, play basketball and chill out. There's no daily regimin or routine associated with all tap dancers. ?
? But don't you get into the studio everyday?
? Not at all. Not everyday. Only when I have something coming up. One day this week I'm gonna get in there with Marshall co-performer Marshall Davis Jr. because we have to prepare for this production so we have to remind ourselves of the direction we want to go in. If we have productions coming up, we get in and have conversations and we get on our feet and do something, but I don't go everyday for rehearsal. ?
? Your schedule in Atlanta involves a master class. What do those sorts of classes involve?
? In the little time I have with students I try to cover the history of the dance, allowing them to see what it means to move past the combination to really express themselves. I'll be sharing with them little gems and tools that they can hopefully carry with them beyond the class. ?