Savion Glover is arguably one of the best tap dancers to grace the world of entertainment in decades. His unique style has stunned audiences for the past eighteen years and most likely will continue to do so for many years to come. It is incredibly humbling to think over the list of accomplishments that Savion has mastered in his mere thirty years. Although he has been taking the world of tap by storm for the past decade, he wouldn’t be known today if it weren’t for taps originators. Although the art of tap dance is native to America, its roots are located in the percussive dance styles of African, English, Irish, and
Scottish cultures. The styles contributed from the English, Irish, and Scottish were derived from their dancing as a form of entertainment. However, when the Africans were sold into slavery and brought to America, they were prohibited to communicate with each other and the use of drums and clapping was forbidden. Eventually, they developed a form of communication using syncopated tap rhythms, thus the birth of tap! (Encyclopedia. ) Eventually in 1829, slave dances were theatrically adapted in the first blackface minstrel show. Tommy “Daddy” Rice danced this historical performance. ask. com) A few years later, William Henry Lane, also known as Master Juba Lane,) was the first African American to become well known on minstrel stages. (google. com) In the late 1800’s minstrel shows developed two techniques, a fast style of tapping using wooden shoes, and a smoother, leather-soled style made famous by George Primrose. After years of tap had been danced upon the minstrel stages, metal plates, or taps, were added to the leather-soled shoes in the l920’s opening up a whole new window of opportunity for artistic creativity.
About a decade later, in the 1930’s, black dancers were finally aloud to contribute to the development of new styles of tap. ask. com) With this revolution, Bill “Bo jangles” Robinson evolved to become America’s most famous tap dancer in the 1930’s. His legend still lives on in the movies he made with the child superstar, Shirley Temple. Proceeding Robinson’s quicker style, John “Bubbles” Sublett popularized a slower, more syncopated style of tap dancing (ask. com) deeming him the inventor of rhythm tap. (google. om) Without these individuals to pave the way for today’s artists such as Savion Glover, tap dancing may not exist let alone be where it is today. Savion Glover was born on November 17, 1973 in Newark, New Jersey. His mother created his name as a spin-off of the word “savior. ” He lived his childhood sharing a home with his mother, two brothers, grandmother, his aunt and her nephew. Eventually, Savion showed interest in the drums but his mother instead enrolled him in jazz and ballet classes where he studied for four years. At the age of eight, he began tap dancing lessons.
In classes he wore little brown and beige Tom McCann cowboy boots due to his mothers financial inability to afford proper tap shoes. As Savion grew, he continued intensely with his lessons as well as attending Newark Arts High School. This was the extent of Savion’s formal education. (tap. org) At the age of twelve, Savion made he Broadway debut in the title role in The Tap Dance Kid. (tap. org) As he proceeded to enter the world of tap, he worked with such inspirations as Honi Coles, Jimmy Slyde, and Gregory Hines who became Savion’s mentor.
Hines was quoted in 1988 speaking of fourteen-year-old Savion saying, “Savion’s the man! He’s the one who is going to take tap into the 90’s and 2000’s. ” (newsweek 67) Who knew Gregory Hines was not only a tap legend, but also a fortune teller! Following his Broadway debut in 1985, Savion then made his film debut t age thirteen in the movie, Tap! With Gregory Hines and Sammy Davis Jr. in 1989. (webfind. net) That same year, Savion was back on Broadway in Black & Blue. Here Savion made history being the youngest to be nominated for a Tony Award for his performance in Black & Blue.
Savion’s first nationally accredited award came in 1991 when he received the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Outstanding Youth Award. Three years after Black & Blue in 1992, he was seen in Jelly’s Last Jam. The kid just couldn’t stop! For the following three years, Savion appeared to be hiding from the Broadway spotlight seen hen as a series regular on Sesame Street (1990-1995). In the mean time he was furiously co-writing and choreographing his own show. Bring in ‘Da Noise, Bring in ‘Da Funk, stomped onto Broadway in 1995 and has thrilled audiences ever since.
The show covers every major era in African American History (New york times 1) and takes one on a tour of the past, present and future. (Noise/Funk show) “My style is Funk. ” Savion says of himself, “I feel like it’s one of my responsibilities to keep dance alive, to keep it out there, to keep the style. ” (imdb. com) 1996 may as well be known as, “the year of Savion. Bring In ‘Da Noise Bring in ‘Da Funk brought Savion a Tony nomination for acting. He also won the Tony Award for best choreography for Noise/Funk. (ask. om) Savion also picked up two Obie Awards for his performance in this show (webfind. com) as well as two Fred Astaire Awards, and two Drama Desk Awards. (ask. com)
As if these honors weren’t enough Mr. Glover proceeded to receive the Outer Critics Circle Award for best choreography, the Drama League Award for Distinguished Achievement in Musical Theater and was the youngest recipient of Dance Magazine Award for best choreography in the istory of their print. There is no doubt that the show was a master success.
Bring in ‘Da Noise, Bring in Da Funk is presently on a US tour. I was lucky enough to see the show for myself and found it to be a phenomenally humbling experience. Words cannot explain the magic created on the stage that evening. It was such a tribute to Savion as a performer to draw such a diverse crowed. I entered the Wang Center and was seated beside a lady in an elegant evening gown to my left and a family that looked like they walked in off the projects to my right. However, everyone in the heater was equally appreciative of such a unique, talent-filled performance.
There was nothing formal about the atmosphere. Everyone was relaxed and comfortable and occasionally some lady in the seventh row would shout out an “Amen! ” or “Halleluiah! ” (Noise/Funk Show) In 1997, Savion originated his own tap company, which he titled NYOTs, (not your ordinary tapers. ) This company has performed world wide, including a performance at the White House for President Clinton. Savion is a man of many talents. Although he has gained his notoriety through his tapping, he has also appeared in movies and even TV series!
In 1998, Savion appeared on an episode of “Sin City Spectacular” as well as a 1999 episode of “The Jamie Fox Show. ” (ask. com) Mr. Glover choreographed The Rat Pack, an HBO movie that first aired in 1998. That same year he was seen in The Wall, another HBO movie. The year 2000 didn’t prove any rest for Savion either. He stared in the movie Bamboozled which not only kept him busy acting but choreographing as well. (tap. org) Savion was also seen performing at the closing ceremonies for the 2000 Winter Olympics. (New york times ) Where Savion finds the time for travel, I couldn’t tell you.
However he seems to make the rounds as he has performed in prestigious areas such as the Moulin Rouge, The Lincoln Center, and the White House among with many other venues. (ask. com) Along with his numerous Broadway, film, and TV credits, Savion was featured in Puff Daddy and the Family’s video, All About the Benjamin’s. Also, he was featured in Kenny G’s Havanna video. Although I cant imagine Savion having any extra time on his hands, he has already written two books about his 30 years. The first was a photo- essay autobiography with Morrow Books. (ask. om) The second was his utobiography, which he co-wrote and entitled, Savion, My Life in Tap! (webfind. com)
Savion is truly an inspiration to young and old alike. Even to those who couldn’t muffle a “shuffle ball change” for their life, Savion has persevered through difficulties and fallowed his dreams despite the odds, which may be a motive for young and old alike. However, Savion hasn’t let the bug of fame and fortune infect him. When it comes down to it, his needs are rather simple. As he was quoted saying during the Bring in ‘Da Noise Bring in ‘Da Funk performance, “A dancers true mentality, is we need good wood. “