Savion Glover brings noise, funk to Kendall Hall

Were it possible to see music, it would look like Savion Glover’s body gyrating to his own taps and the rhythm emanating from his every extremity. The unremitting fluidity of his body shows music is as much alive in his dreadlocks, fingertips and elbow joints as his toes. Music even flows from Glover’s mouth, revealing the well-kept secret that he can sing, too. Every molecule in his body surges with energy at the beat of a drum or the flap of a tap, and every member of his audience can both see it and feel it.

Savion Glover, choreographer, director and tap dancing phenomenon, had the stage in Kendall Hall smoking – literally – with the airborne resin dust of his taps on Friday night. He has had the same effect on the entertainment industry as well. From the age of 11, the Newark, N.J. native’s tap dancing was smoking up the stages of Broadway, with his debut in “The Tap Dance Kid.” He later starred in the movie “Tap” with Gregory Hines and Sammy Davis Jr., and in the same year, 1989, he was back on Broadway in “Black and Blue.”

In 1990 he began making his way into homes across the nation on Sesame Street. Meanwhile, he returned to Broadway in 1992 for “Jelly’s Last Jam.” In 1995, he choreographed and performed in Broadway’s “Bring in ‘Da Noise, Bring in ‘Da Funk,” for which he received a Tony for choreography in 1996. Since then, he has also choreographed and been featured in several TV shows and movies.

Glover was brought to the College by the Celebration of the Arts, and his show certainly celebrated many types of art. The art of bucket drumming, the art of tap dancing, the art of singing and the art of playing the piano, bass, drums, saxophone and guitar were the obvious celebrated talents. But the art of feeling music, the art of being music, the art of letting every beat of a rhythm flow from the human body – these were the arts that audience members did not realize they were paying to celebrate when they bought tickets.

And celebrate they did. Five minutes could not go by without the sound of the audience cheering, clapping, hooting and hollering interspersing into Glover’s tapping against the jazzy beat of the band. The audience was enthralled and involved in the show, able to feel the rhythm, too.

“Savion has a gift,” Sarah Schlesinger, sophomore psychology major, said. “Not many people can inspire others through their feet.”

Glover, comfortable as ever, appeared to be having the time of his life. He often danced with his back to the audience and jammed with the band members. Although his expressions weren’t visible, the band members’ faces revealed the musical chemistry at work on the stage. It appeared as if the audience was sneaking a peek at the Friday night jam session of a talented group of friends, who have a great time making music. Nothing seemed staged or fake; the emotions and the energy were real. It was impossible not to feel it. And it would be impossible for Glover to fake it. The passion with which his body moved could not have been feigned.

Glover entered the stage in a crimson button-down shirt, un-tucked over loose black pants. He tapped around for a bit, and started to sing David Bowie’s “Nature Boy,” recently featured in the motion picture “Moulin Rouge,” while he tapped. Ending with the words, “the greatest joy you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return,” Glover continued to let the explosive energy of his ankles produce the rhythmic euphony of his taps. He sometimes accompanied it with his own sound effects, nonsense words that seemed to vocalize musical sounds.

Glover was later joined by two other men in loose black pants and blue and green button-down shirts like Glover’s. By this point, Glover’s shirt was hanging open, revealing a ‘wife beater’ and chains that swung with his every movement. His sweat had worked its way down to the waistline of the red shirt. The trio tapped together for a few minutes, synchronized and sensational, and then each of the men produced tap soliloquies as Glover changed out of his sweat-soaked crimson shirt to a tan button-down one backstage. When he returned, the three acted as if they were trying to compete, each creating combinations of sounds to top the other. It is then, perhaps, that Glover appeared to have the most fun, bursting out with laughter at times, looking as if he had never been happier to tap with his buddies.

Before performing “one more groove,” Glover said to the audience, “I hope you had as much fun as I did.” He sang another song as he tapped, singing about “you and the night and the music,” and then tapped to the band’s jazz version of the “Sound of Music” classic, “My Favorite Things.” He closed with a reprise of “Lonely Boy,” and he and his band were met with a standing ovation, revealing the audience indeed shared in Glover’s fun.

The show opened with two bucket drummers. Sitting on milk crates, the large men banged out more sounds from four cement buckets and the Kendall Hall stage floor with regular drumsticks than most would think possible. Lifting the upside-down buckets slightly with their feet at times to create varying sounds, the men created rhythms that reverberated from the walls and infiltrated the audience.

All of Kendall Hall clapped along to the beat and marveled not only at the talents of the two musicians but at how much fun they were having. The drummers’ whole bodies shook with the rhythms and their faces, though dripping with sweat, featured bright eyes and huge smiles that emitted occasional bouts of laughter.