Savion Glover in "SoUNDz’ SaCRoSaNcT," The Soraya, Oct. 7, 2023
Oct. 11, 2023 | By Bruce R. Feldman
In Brief: The Tony Award-winning dancer and choreographer Savion Glover bares his personal and artistic rite of passage through an evening of refined tap, uncertain mysticism, and improvised jazz.
It wasn’t a dance concert. Nor was it an evening of popular entertainment.
Rather, Savion Glover used his technically impressive tap dance skills to annotate a metaphysical text about his personal psychological and artistic journey. He empowered two actors to deliver it, as he tapped rhythmic commentary to their words.
This turned out to be a rambling 75-minute scene between a therapist (Tatum Thompson) and her patient (Kyle Wilson), each questioning the other’s reality.
On the same theme, the text frequently invoked the Hindu concept of dharma, the eternal nature of reality that underpins righteous behavior and social order.
The names of many dance greats, such as Sammy Davis Jr. and Gregory Hines, also came up in the scene, though Glover did not attempt to mimic the styles of these great hoofers.
He did, however, have a small TV on the stage that showed clips of the Nicholas Brothers and others. These were very hard to see from the audience, further underscoring the evening’s highly introspective nature.
Glover treated a long list of jazz musicians and composers in the text the same as he did the dancers. The two saxophonists and bass player on stage didn’t riff on any Ellington or Coltrane signature themes.
Their musical accompaniment was instead a free-form jazz improvisation in the style of Ornette Coleman.
Indeed, the whole evening felt like a vestige of an unstructured beat poetry and jazz improvisation that might have taken place in a smoke-filled coffee house in New York or San Francisco in the late 1950s.
All that was missing were the joyless hipsters snapping their fingers in approval.
It’s not clear what any of this meant – an expression of social protest, a plea for peace and harmony, a quest for spiritual absolution? – but underlying it all was some incredibly smooth, virtuoso tapping.
It was understated and mystical, to be sure, but still terrific to watch.
Savion Glover in "SoUNDz’ SaCRoSaNcT," Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts (The Soraya), 18111 Nordhoff St., Northridge, CA 91330, (818) 677-3000, www.thesoraya.org