Savion Glover Taps Into Improvisation With a Liberty City Vibe

Throughout his storied career, tap dance legend Savion Glover has combined his own brand of tap with a variety of collaborations. He has brought tap to the masses, whether onscreen or onstage. From Broadway and the Tony Awards to films like Happy Feet, he has been one of the leading ambassadors of the dance form.

His latest partnership with jazz pioneer and drummer Jack DeJohnette brings Glover to Miami this weekend at the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center. Copresented by Culture Shock Miami and the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center, the performance is in part a celebration of the Liberty City-based African Heritage institution’s 40th anniversary.

The idea of Glover and DeJohnette working together was born after the pair found themselves performing as guests in each another’s sets in New York City-area jazz clubs. After a more structured performance in upstate New York, Glover and DeJohnette began looking for additional opportunities to work together.

“His approach to music is like my relationship and approach to tap dancing,” Glover says of his partner. “I thought it would be a great thing for an audience who would not otherwise witness Jack DeJohnette to see his work. I have a particular audience in dance, and I’m not sure they’d go to see straight-up jazz.”

Glover is interested in using this program as a way of investigating the synergy between the improvisational nature inherent in jazz with his own style of tap. He describes his performance style as “very on the spot, whatever the vibe is, so it’s like playing to the music – we go out there and let the realm of consciousness take over.”

Wholly improvisational, the performance is a give-and-take between himself and DeJohnette and his band, with each trading off sets and leading one another in rhythms and styles. Miami native and longtime Glover collaborator Marshall Davis Jr., who received his initial dance training at the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center, also appears in the program.

Having spent the majority of his 42 years tapping, Glover shows no sign of slowing. Inspired by exposing audiences to the dance that exists in everyday life, he remains interested in looking at the intersection between dance and other elements. “I have a lot of things I want to smash dance up against — maybe prayer and tap dance? Wondering how I can interpret prayer or something like heart surgery through tap dance,” he muses.

“I’m inspired by being alive,” he adds. “My process is just living my life the best that I can, and I aim to bring that to my performance.”

— Rebekah Lanae Lengel for artburstmiami.com

An Evening With Savion Glover and Jack DeJohnette
8 p.m. Saturday at the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center, 10950 SW 211th St., Cutler Bay. Tickets cost $5 for ages 13 to 22 exclusively at cultureshockmiami.com. Full-price tickets cost $20 to $40 through smdcac.org or by calling 786-573-5300.

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