Savion Glover tapping into something different with ‘SoLe Sanctuary’

Did you know Mumble from "Happy Feet" got his dance moves from Savion Glover? The tap dancer wore a motion-capture body suit to help bring the penguin to life.

Tap dancing legend Savion Glover says that the key to his art is having something to express. When he and Marshall Davis Jr. put together his latest show, “SoLe Sanctuary,” there were a lot of times when they didn’t even dance.

“Sometimes our rehearsals are just conversations where we talk about the dance and the different ways we want to approach and express,” he says. “We get together and build out some music and express that through the dance.”

The 39-year-old hoofer says his latest show, which will have its Boston premiere this weekend, is a love letter of sorts to greats like Jimmy Slyde, Sammy Davis Jr. and Gregory Hines.

Metro: What is “SoLe Sanctuary” all about?

Glover: It’s an evening of dance. It’s a show that is a tribute to the men and women responsible for my progress as a dancer. It’s an evening of homage. … I was blessed to know these people and learn from them, and grow to love them as well.

How much of the performance is improvised?

We do a couple of things that are choreographed, but most of it is improvisation. Over half of the performance is improvisation. It’s like a musician playing music — anything that is off the charts is basically left up to the imagination, which we call improvisation. … I am better expressed through improvisation … and it’s been like that for me for a while. I like choreography — I think it’s cool. It allows us to think about the audience more and form a presentation, but improvisation allows me to express more of what I’m thinking at the time, how I’m feeling at the time.

Is that how you’re feeling during that period in your life or is it right there in that moment, on stage?

Oh yeah, it can be the time in life. Or in the moment. At the time in life is in the moment!

You tapped on “Sesame Street” for a long time. Do you think kids see the educational value in tap and performing arts?

This is one of my goals. … We still have adults who just don’t understand the education behind tap dance or the seriousness … and I think that has a lot to do with the history associated with tap dance. When we can recognize tap dance to be a more seriously taken art form, then we can talk about the education of it. But it is my proud privilege to be one of the educators through the dance. I try to allow the audience to hear the musicality through the dance versus just seeing the dance. The importance of the audio, the sound, is vital.

What advice would you give people who want to learn more about tap dancing, but don’t exactly know how to dance, or don’t think they’re dancers.

Go with it! (Laughs). Go with the thought. If you don’t think you’re a dancer then you’re obviously not a dancer. That’s it

Celebrity Series of Boston and World Music/CRASHarts present
Savion Glover
‘SoLe Sanctuary’
Saturday, 8 p.m.
The Opera House
539 Washington St., Boston
$40-$75, 617-876-4275
www.worldmusic.org


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