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September 13th, 2006 Tim Duroche | Performance
 

Classical Savion

White Bird kicks off its season with a real toe-tapper.

     
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[DANCE] What does the greatest dancer of his generation do after having worked with the Muppets and McCoy Tyner, both da noize and da funk, Spike Lee, Ornette Coleman and giants of tap like the late, great Gregory Hines and Jimmy Slyde? Why, form a 10-piece string ensemble, "lay down the metal" and go for baroque, of course. The result: Tony Award-winning Savion Glover's breathtaking Classical Savion, opening White Bird's 2006-2007 season—a two-hour virtuosic display of tap dance and classical music that could single-handedly join John Philip Sousa and Antonio Vivaldi as the most unlikely of domestic partners of all time.

Such tour de force mating of jazz rhythm and classical counterpoint could easily have turned "flash-and-grin" novelty but is in the hands (and feet) of the remarkable Glover; it's a love child rich in art and entertainment that is anything but all about the Benjamins. For this program, Glover with strings and longtime collaborators saxophonist Patience Higgins and bassist Andy McCloud, among others, kick out the classical jams on Bach's third Brandenburg, Bartók's "Rumanian Folk Dance," Vivaldi's Seasons, Mendelssohn's Octet and a Sousaphonic finale that makes the march master's reimagined "Stars and Stripes Forever (For Now)" explode with energy, purpose and passion.

Experiencing Savion Glover is an exhilarating, electrically charged experience. Taking off from the innovations of Chuck Green and Honi Coles, Glover has taken tap's onomatopoeia of flea hops, shim-shams and nerve taps and fused them to blistering jazz, neo-soul/newjack shuffle-funk and now classical music with unswerving élan. No artist working today has as rich a continuum of talent and reference—simultaneously recalling George Balanchine's deep-listening music-dance interplay and John Coltrane's blazing musical electricity. Like Balanchine, Glover accentuates and internalizes unnoticed nuances in music's pulse and flow—creating a Möbius strip of counterpoint and physical conversation that is awe-inspiring. In this nonstop thrill ride, his tightly coiled sense of ignition and combustion can be as relentless, dizzying and joy-struck as the greatest of extended Coltrane improvisations. Time and time again Glover shines a brilliant spotlight on tap, elevating it as the art form it is—as unique to American culture as jazz, baseball and what we once called democracy. At 32, there's nothing he can't do.


Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1111 SW Broadway, 797-2787. 7:30 pm Tuesday-Wednesday, Sept. 19-20. $20-$54.
 
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