Guest blogger Danielle Marie Georgiou is a dance lecturer at the University of Texas Arlington. She also serves as assistant director of UT Arlington’s Dance Ensemble.
Clad in black pants, an unbuttoned blue shirt, and red socks that set off his tap shoes, Savion Glover took to the stage at the Meyerson Symphony Center Sunday night and ferociously pounded out rhythms with his two comrades in a bare-bones show that highlighted their talents.
Supported by Marshall Davis Jr. and Keitaro Hosokawa, Glover has developed a traveling show known as Bare Soundz that presents tap in a stripped down, non-nuanced, non-narrative manner that is inviting and entertaining. During my interview with Glover last week, he discussed his desire to present such a show, which is in direct opposition to his other works, like the Broadway-style Bring In ‘Da Noise, Bring In ‘Da Funk:
“Lately, my productions have been those non-Broadway productions, and they have been sort of…personal notes to myself…my personal agenda to just advance the art form…I feel that tap should be experienced, enjoyed, and heard without the additional instrumentation…so the listener, the audience, can understand and relate to the dance.”
Performed on wired wooden platforms (developed by Gregory Hines) that work to maximize the musicality of the rhythms being produced, the effect projects the sound throughout the space. The concept is simple – it’s about the men, their taps, and their love and appreciation for hoofing – allowing the audience to focus on the dancers. It highlights their individual mastery of the genre, and shows how equally brilliant Davis, Jr. and Hosokawa are. The look of pure joy on their faces and their determination to entertain the audience and themselves proved to be a welcoming and fun experience.
Yet, nothing compares to watching Glover tap; it’s as if he is conducting his feet in a fast-paced, jazzy orchestration of beats. The music he creates is vaguely familiar but uniquely his own, and when the others joined in, it created a cooperative harmony.
The loose structure of the program also allowed for moments of humor and surprise. Toward the middle of show, in a kind of structured improvisational exercise, one dancer would tap out a rhythm during the choreographed section of work that the others weren’t expecting and the surprise of the change in rhythm would resonate in all of their faces, emotionally and physically. It was refreshing to see these professional dancers take the risk of breaking “character” and laughing at the kinks in their system. It showed them as real and human, and allowed the audience to laugh along with them and enjoy the moment.