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Savion Glover talks tap and performance

Linda Armstrong | 6/20/2013, 2:49 p.m. | Updated on 6/25/2013, 2:49 p.m.
Savion Glover Lois Greenfield

Tap dancer extraordinaire Savion Glover will be performing in “Savion Glover’s STePz” at the Joyce Theatre at 175 Eighth Ave. from June 18 to July 6. Glover will be performing with four other dancers who are professionals and students from his Newark-based school, the HooFeRzCLuB School for Tap. Glover recently sat down with the AmNews to talk about the school and the upcoming show.

AmNews: How long have you had HooFeRzCLuB School for Tap?

Savion Glover: About five years.

AmNews: What are the ages of the students?

SG: Any age, any color. If you can walk, you can dance.

AmNews: How long have the dance ensemble been preparing for these performances?

SG: We started last September—eight months. We started putting the pieces together eight months ago, brought in final dancers two months ago. I set the choreography on the dancers at the school, and then we brought in other experienced dancers, Ayodele Casel and Sarah Savelli. It’s just five dancers, Marshall Davis Jr. [HooFerzCLuB dancer], myself and Robyn Watson [student].

AmNews: What do you stress about tap as a dance form to your students?

SG: I just stress the musicality of the dance. I stress the fact that they should be expressing themselves or what the dance is allowing them to feel at the time. I dance as I feel it. If we are doing choreography, there is room for me to express myself in an improvisational way. I always leave room for improvisation for the students and dancers; that’s because with the dance, there’s so much to explore, even once we have the choreography. I try to paint a picture, but I’m still into the musicality of the dance, so you find things to play off of as you explore the choreography. It’s like a book; five people can read it and you have five different interpretations.

AmNews: What should audiences expect to see? You are known for not being a traditional-style tapper.

SG: Just a lot of energy. We’re just having fun with this one. This production is like a sing-along; I think everybody can relate. This production is lively, fun and inviting. There are some things to think about, but it’s not as intricate thought-wise. We’ll be dancing to John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Prince, Stevie Wonder, original tunes by Gregory Hines, and Benny Goodman.

AmNews: Why have the school in Newark?

SG: When I first came to this school, it was the Newark Community School for the Arts, and then they moved. A friend of ours told me that the building was on sale, and I bought it. But, at the same time, this is where I’m from. I grew up the hill on Avon Avenue. So this was full circle for me to be able to offer this to the community. I’m from here, and I’m happy to be part of the growing arts community.

AmNews: What about tap dancing attracted you as a youth, and what sustains your interest and energy when it comes to this art form?

SG: As a youth, it was something for us to do. My mom signed us up. It wasn’t until I met these great people from dance—Gregory Hines, George Hillman, Henry LeTang, Lon Chaney, Diane Walker and Little Nok nok—that’s when my energy changed about it. I started when I was 7, and then I met these cats when I was 11 or 12. With their contributions, I realized they were influential in show business, period.

AmNews: How often do students attend?

SG: I demand that you come here and study, and you have to be here for three months. We have a program that is three days a week, or if not, they do a monthly thing.

AmNews: Why should audiences support the show?

SG: They should come because they might experience something they forgot about or have never seen. We are looking to introduce many traditions in tap dance, and sometimes people forget who the originators were. So hopefully, we can remind them of the stair and the dance in general, lending our energy to steps and concepts that were developed well before us. One can enjoy hearing the dance.