CULTURE KLASH: Sole Sounds

By on March 7, 2018

The Tap Dance Kid teaches and performs in the valley this week

(Lois Greenfield)

Savion Glover can’t quite explain why he loves tap dance. It’s too hard to separate the art from himself. “It is simply the voice,” he said. “Tap is everything, because it is my voice.”

Tap has given Glover countless opportunities to meet people who changed his life, to see amazing places, but also to express himself through dance.

Glover always had great rhythm, even as a child growing up in New Jersey. He took drumming lessons at 4 years old and when he was 7 his mother enrolled him in a tap class. “Then my life changed,” he said. “I don’t think I knew whether or not I was good at it, it was just something I loved to do.”

Today Glover is considered one of the greatest tap dancers of all time. Before he was a teenager he starred in the leading role in the Broadway production of The Tap Dance Kid. As a choreographer, Glover’s work helped keep tap dancing in the limelight in the modern dance world. He starred in and choreographed Bring in ‘da Noise, Bring in ‘da Funk, a Broadway musical that debuted in 1996 and chronicles African-American history. He won a Tony Award for his choreography for the show.

He’s also choreographed the animated films Happy Feet and Happy Feet 2. He’s been in movies like Spike Lee’s Bamboozled and made several appearances on Sesame Street.

This week he’ll teach tap classes in Jackson Hole, along with renowned dancer Marshall Davis, Jr., who has also appeared on Broadway, performed around the world and taught tap as an adjunct professor at Queens College for more than a decade.

The workshops in Jackson are part of a two-year commitment he’s made with Dancers’ Workshop to help the school build its own tap program.

He hopes the two workshops leave participants with a better understanding of the art form.

“I hope they just walk away with tap dance on their mind,” he said. “I hope they talk about tap dancing and try to do more tap dance. I hope they think about it, and keep the art form part of the conversation.”

Tap is an important art form intertwined with American culture and history, but sometimes forgotten and left out of those conversations, Glover said. It continues to evolve and shape people’s lives. Glover wants more people to know about it and understand it as an art form.

He particularly loves teaching multi-generational classes. Age doesn’t matter in his classes, Glover said. He’s there to teach people about tap dance and how to express themselves. That’s something for all ages.

“I believe in the philosophy of one mind, one space,” he said.

The list of who Glover thinks should come to his classes is long: doctors, lawyers, musicians, intellectuals, artists, hunters, rock stars, people who need to pray, people who need therapy, Catholics, Hindus, Buddhists and Atheists.

“Basically everyone should come,” he said.

People just need to come to the classroom ready to learn. A diverse class means they’ll learn from the instructors, but also each other, he said.

Glover also likes mixing up levels and abilities. Even those who are an expert at something can return to the basics and work on honing their skills.

“And those who have never even scratched the surface might be greater than they know,” he said. “I like to bring them together and watch them learn and share.”

Even Glover, one of the best tappers in the world, is still learning and evolving.

“I’m still trying to discover [tap],” he said. “My style is ‘tomorrow.’ I don’t know what my style is, because I’m still, after all these years, trying to figure it out.”

Classes are from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday at Dancers’ Workshop for ages 8 and older, $25. Glover and Marshall will also give an informal performance at the Senior Center of Jackson Hole from 3 to 4 p.m. Wednesday and a lecture demonstration to students at Jackson Hole Middle School from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Thursday, and to students at Jackson Hole High School 3 p.m. Thursday.

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