Savion Glover conquered new turf in his latest charge of the tap brigade. He is not the first tapper to hoof to the classics, but he may be the most original. Armed with his conductor and 10 classical and 4 jazz musicians, he combined his improvised jazz with the music of Vivaldi, Bach, and Mendelssohn. Throw in a little John Coltrane (and Souza) and you have the feel of Twyla Tharp's crispy Bix Pieces blending into the dreamy 12-hour meditational Robert Wilson spectacles.
"Classical," according to Webster, means "relating to a form of primary significance before modern times." Glover has always related to the past while moving the art forward, even in his hip-hop-nation years of Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in 'da Funk. During the post-performance Q&A session he told the audience that he equated the difference between playing the classics and playing jazz to dressing up formally for your school principal or hanging out with your best friend.
On opening night, just inches away from the violin section, Clover seemed to coax and yank nonexistent notes out of the music; meanwhile, the young players furiously kept pace, sticking to their written pages. By the end of the week, things had loosened up so much between orchestra and Glover that the violins were rifting off of Carmen with the jazz pianist, and the harpsichord was trading eights with the violas. Glover wasn't imitating, riding, or flying alongside the music--he had gotten inside it. Just as spectacular as the jazz/classical jamming was watching the curtain fall and curve into the shape of an American flag, with stars lighting the floor, during Glover's rendition of "The Stars and Stripes Forever (for Now)." Each night, taking shoes from the piano where a spotlit photograph of Gregory Hines sat, Glover marked a soft-shoe and dropped a little sand on the floor in honor of his late mentor.
Watching Glover think onstage and come up with ideas, you can see his eyes take on a kind of maniacal expression as he punches the air, or spins and slides, spirals sometimes, and abruptly changes direction. There is the "Savion walk," fast paced in a large circle, as he lets loose a fussilade of taps preparing for the next groove. Most of all there is the wonder of watching and hearing a great percussionist of the feet interpret the classics.
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|Title Annotation:||CLASSICAL SAVION JOYCE THEATER|
|Date:||Apr 1, 2005|
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