You may have caught tap legend Savion Glover at the Blue Note Jazz Festival with the Revive Big Band this past weekend. If you were as enamored as we were, you are in luck because Savion is performing a residency at the Joyce Theater until July 6th and we sat down to discuss his roots and the STePz project with him this week. Check out our interview with some exclusive backstage footage and be sure to get out to one of the STePz shows at the Joyce Theater!
What initially got you excited about tap dancing?
Initially my mother signed us up for tap class. But it wasn’t until I was introduced to the greats of the day like Jimmy Slyde, Gregory Hines, Buster Brown, and all of those people that I really got serious about dance. I was about 12 or 13 when that happened.
Do you find inspiration outside of dance that influences your art or your style?
I don’t know what “outside of dance” is man. Everything that I do is musical and dance orientated. There is no outside of dance. There’s not a moment that goes by. Whether it’s writing or reading or talking or anything, so much is associated with dance. With my mentors and teachers, all we did is talk about the dance. Even if we were talking about something else, it would still always lead back to the dance—how the dance played a part in whatever. Even if we were talking about Tiger Woods and his golf—if you talk about that with Jimmy Slyde, it leads back to the dance. There is some movement and balance and all of that involved. Everything leads back to the dance, man. I really don’t have a life outside of tap [laughs].
What do you see as the connection between music and dance?
The music and the dance go hand-in-hand. A lot of the drummers got their licks and riffs from tap dancers. There was always a dancer around. It’s the same thing with the dancer too—a lot of the dancers got some of their chops from drummers or different riffs from piano players. In my opinion, tap dancing is one of the more musical art forms versus something like ballet or modern dance. Of course one might be able to hear—if they stretched the intelligence a bit—what’s going on in a lyrical piece being danced. But I think they can hear more of what’s going on in a tap piece so long as the dancer approaches it as a musician. The dance and the music is like one.
Do you have any favorite musicians?
All the cats, man. Trane, Roy Haynes, Jack DeJohnette, McCoy Tyner, Ornette Coleman, Miles, Sonny Rollins, Wayne Shorter, Duke Ellington, Count Basie. All the cats.
What’s the concept behind your residency at the Joyce Theater?
What we’re doing is reintroducing dancing on the stairs and what not—sort of a tribute to Bojangles and people like that. So we’ll do some choreography on the steps, but of course it will be with our energy. So that’s it really—it’s new choreography and a reminder of the dancing on the stairs. I’m always wanting to remind the audience or the listener that nothing is new. It’s my proud privilege and duty to just carry on the tradition. Sometimes it can get lost and people can forget or think that one of us young ones created something when it’s really that these approaches and ideas have been available and shown to us long ago. So I continue to remind the people of the cats who were here before us. That’s my duty.
I’m really looking forward to this show though. It’s going to be an enjoyable evening—maybe not as intimidating as some of my other productions. It’s more inviting. I’m looking forward to it and looking forward to having some fun.
Interview by Eric Sandler (@ericsandler)