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Born to save tap
Fuh-duh-BAP! Fuh-duh-duh-BAP! A new language, a new sound. Savion Glover has redefined tap dancing, and it can never be the same again. He speaks to the world with a power and ease that has stunned and captivated millions. This exciting biography captures that essence--often in Glover's own voice--and treats readers to an inside look at his work while also providing a brief yet compelling history of tap dancing. Reverberating with the rhythm of a unique musical ...
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Born to save tap
Fuh-duh-BAP! Fuh-duh-duh-BAP! A new language, a new sound. Savion Glover has redefined tap dancing, and it can never be the same again. He speaks to the world with a power and ease that has stunned and captivated millions. This exciting biography captures that essence--often in Glover's own voice--and treats readers to an inside look at his work while also providing a brief yet compelling history of tap dancing. Reverberating with the rhythm of a unique musical language, the book includes more than 50 photographs and features an eye-catching two-color design.Foreword by Gregory Hines
"He's the greatest tap dancer to ever lace up a pair of Capezios or any other tap shoes."-- Gregory Hines in the Foreword to Savion: My Life in Tap
2001 Best Books for Young Adults (ALA)Foreword by Gregory Hines
"He's the greatest tap dancer to ever lace up a pair of Capezios or any other tap shoes."--Gregory Hines in the Foreword to Savion: My Life in Tap
Examines the life and career of the young tap dancer who speaks with his feet and who choreographed the Tony Award-winning Broadway show "Bring in da Noise, Bring in da Funk."
The argument is wordless, but it isn't soundless. This is a dance troupe, Not Your Ordinary Tappers, arguing with their feet—conversation among shoes rattling on a wooden floor.
One of the newer dancers has been having trouble with the wing step, in which a dancer leaps off the floor, kicks one foot to one side, and executes several hits on the floor with the other. A couple of the others are showing him how it's done.
Then Savion Glover, the leader of the group, steps in. "Dig it! Dig it!" he says, and then goes on with his feet:
After an emphatic left heel stroke he manages two extra hits on the floor with other parts of the shoe before the right foot—the wing foot—flying off to the side comes to earth.
A silence in the room. There. That's settled.
Just in his twenties, Savion Glover is the settler of all arguments about tap dancing, the resolver of all questions, even the big one: Who's the best?
"Savvy's just put a whole other energy into it, leaving everybody in the dust," says tap legend Jimmy Slyde, who is more than seventy years old and still smooth. "But that's what it's all about."
Savion is the artistic grandson of some of tap's most revered figures, people like Jimmy Slyde, Honi Coles, Chuck Green, Lon Chaney, and Bunny Briggs, and heir to the generation of dancers led by the Hines brothers,Gregory and Maurice. As a child, then as a teenager, he took his place beside them in such Broadway productions as The Tap Dance Kid, Black and Blue, and Jelly's Last Jam and in the film Tap.
But coming to adulthood in the 1990s, Savion grew up with sounds that his elders never heard, and the music from his shoes reflects this; his feet speak hip-hop. Watching Savion dance, listening to him dance, one hears the rhythms of a boom box rap or a funky blues. Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in 'da Funk, the Tony Award-winning Broadway show he choreographed, brought the history of rhythm in America up-to-date and in the process made tap dancing cool again. Savion is the first young tapper in a generation to have imitators, and almost all by himself he has reawakened an art form.
It's a little hard to imagine such accomplishment in one so young. But in manner and appearance, he's still youthful—sweet-tempered, prone to goofiness, and with strangers as polite as a boy in church.
He's a baby face with a beard, a puckermouthed boy-man, dressed ordinarily in baggy unmatched clothing, shoes perennially untied, with tight spirals of hair sprouting on his head like young coral. Gangly, lithe, and athletic, he has bunched muscles in his calves and long, beveled ankles that make it seem as if his feet are dangling loosely off the end of them like castanets. Those feet are a remarkable physical thing—size 12 1/2 EE—big for a dancer but, more important, with an array of seemingly independent parts
"Drummers play drums, dancers play the floor," he's fond of saying. Watch him. Watch him for just a few seconds, and you count a dozen or more places on his feet that hit the floor and make different sounds: a whole rattletrap full of thwacks, clacks, tippy-tippies, thunks, sweeps, swishes, and slams. Plus, he's loud. Savion likes loud. Gregory Hines says Savion hits the floor harder than anyone he's ever seen, and he claims Savion can be heard tapping on carpet.
"The Pied Tapper," Hines calls him, the Michael Jordan of tap—though perhaps a better comparison would be to Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, the basketball stars of the 1980s who propelled their game to the vast popularity it enjoys today. Indeed, in the wake of Savion's early success and early fame, there are signs that tapping is now more popular in this country than it has ever been before. Tap festivals now take place throughout the United States; the International Tap Association, a group founded in 1988 to keep tappers informed of tap activities, has doubled in size since 1993; and the success here of such shows as Ireland's Riverdance testifies to a surge in appreciation of the noise and funk that dancers everywhere can bring with their feet.
By now you've probably seen Savion dancing with his mirrored reflection in an advertisement for Coca-Cola. Or with the rap star/producer Puff Daddy in a music video on MTV. Or on his own ABC special. Or with the country rock singer Hank Williams, Jr., in the opening credits for ABC's Monday Night Football. Or acting in a TV special on Showtime. Or performing with Not Your Ordinary Tappers (NYOTs) onstage in their touring show. You might see his choreography in a new musical about the Harlem Globetrotters. Throw in his performance on Sesame Street, and you've got a young artist engaging a remarkably wide cross section of the American mainstream.
Tap, to flourish in the twenty-first century, needs his stardom. But it also needs his dancing. In the past those two things have not been easily reconciled, but if anyone can do it, Savion is the man.
He is unique in this regard, a young artist with the future of an art form at his feet.
People always want to know where an idea for a step comes from, where an idea for a dance comes from. It's hard to know. I don't think about process too much. I think about hittin', which is what tappers do. We hit! It's a gut thing, an artist's thing. You. . .