Savion Glover’s “Bare Soundz” Brings Spirit and Style

By - Nov 10th, 2011 01:43 pm
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Savion Glover in “Bare Soundz.” Photo courtesy of the artist.

I am hell-bent on exposing my young son to the high arts, and what better way than with Savion Glover, a national treasure and tap legend that I first saw on Sesame Street? Tuesday night, the man who made tap dancing cool again brought his Bare Soundz show to Uihlein Hall of the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts.

Glover and two protégés from his acclaimed Hoofers School of Tap stood poised atop their own raised wooden platforms, which clarified and amplified tap sounds that might otherwise be lost. The lights stayed low as our journey began.

Glover arranged traditional jazz and spirituals for one instrument: dancers’ feet. For an hour and a half, he pounded the stage with life, emotion, and true artistry. He and his dancers moved with deft technical precision. This is an athletic art; clothing became soaked with sweat as feet moved in harmony to sound out love, loss and praise.

The dancing was smooth, but in some respects Bare Soundz was awkward. Sometimes, people didn’t know where to clap and  bursts of applause interrupted songs during dramatic breaks. Still, Glover has taken his style to a new level. From the gestures he used to the sparse but soulful melodies he sang, something in the way he and the other dancers carried themselves exuded a spiritual connection to an art derived at least in part from African tradition. I almost forgot there wasn’t any background music. Glover’s humble smile didn’t hurt, either.

The highlight of the show came when the group moved fluidly off and on one platform without missing a beat. Solo, each performer showed distinct style. Quite a feat, considering it was all about their feet.

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