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Tap dance seduction in Vail

Caramie Schnell
Vail, CO Colorado
Dominique Taylor/Vail DailyTap dancer Savion Glover last performed in Vail,Colorado in 2007
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VAIL, Colorado – It takes a lot to keep the often chatty audiences at the Ford Amphitheater in Vail, Colorado quiet, but two years ago, tap dance phenom Savion Glover did just that.

With bright green shoes, crazy dreadlocks sticking out in all directions and feet aflying, Glover’s energy was unquenchable. Cheering again and again, the audience intently watched his nimble feet make masterful contact with the stage in a display akin to fireworks.

Indeed, Glover’s style of tap dance is passionate and explosive, likely because he sees tap as music, not as dance.



“We approach the dance as if it’s music,” Glover, 35, said during a phone interview this week. “We try to play whatever sound or melody or instrument we hear at that time.”

The dance isn’t wholly improvised, nor is it choreographed.



“I call it improvography – a little bit improv, a little bit choreographed,” he said.

Glover kicks off the Vail International Dance Festival on Monday night with the Bare Soundz dancers and the Jazz quartet The Otherz. It’s the second time he’s performed at the dance festival.

Damian Woetzel, the festival’s executive artistic director, is excited to bring Glover – who calls Glover “avatar of his art form” – back this year. Woetzel vividly recalls the first time he saw “Bring in ‘Da Noise, Bring in ‘Da Funk,” which won Glover a Tony Award in 1996.



“Stunned doesn’t even cover it,” Woetzel said. “It was beyond genius, the commitment to a type of dancing that had never been seen before.”

An animated performance

As a young child, Glover remembers watching tap dancing on Saturday morning television. By the time he was 7 years old, he’d begun dancing himself, though it wasn’t until he was 12 or 13 that he was introduced to his current style of tap – what he calls the “Jimmy Slyde style” of tap, which mixes tap with Jazz.

“My introduction to this style was when I did a show called ‘Black and Blue,’ with all the masters at that time who were still alive,” including Slyde, Glover said.

Glover made his Broadway debut at age 12 in the hit show “Tap Dance Kid.” A year later, he performed in the film “Tap,” starring Gregory Hines and Sammy Davis, Jr. Most recently Glover’s connected with a whole new generation thanks to his work as the motion capture dancer for the role of the penguin Mumble in the children’s film “Happy Feet.”

Connecting with kids

At Glover’s performance two years ago, then 8-year-old Alec Mauro saw him perform and met him after the show.

A souvenir from that night – a black tap shoe Glover autographed – is tucked between a ski racing medal and a fencing trophy on a shelf in his room. It’s something he’ll always remember, said Alec, a tap dancer at the Vail Valley Dance Academy.

“(Savion) was really nice,” he said. ” I tap dance too, so he patted me on the back and said, ‘keep dancing, it’ll get you far.'”

Ever since the show, Alec has been begging for a special pair of tap shoes, in honor of Glover.

“He think Savion’s green tap shoes are really cool,” said Mindy Mauro, Alec’s mom. “He keeps asking me for some just like that.”

High Life Editor Caramie Schnell can be reached at 970-748-2984 or cschnell@vaildaily.com.

What: Tap master Savion Glover with the Bare Soundz dancers and The Otherz Jazz quartet

Where: Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, Vail

When: 6:30 p.m., Monday

Cost: Tickets are $10 for kids, $17 for lawn and $55/$75 for reserved seats

More information: Call 888-920-2787 or visit http://www.vaildance.org.

Get to know more about Savion Glover at the UpClose: Savion Glover performance at the Vilar Performing Arts Center in Beaver Creek on Tuesday. The show starts at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $30 for children and $45/$55 based on seating for adults. Visit http://www.vaildance.org.


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