On December 19, 2015, preeminent tap choreographer Savion Glover presented his holiday concert DANCE HOLIDAY SPeCTaCULaR at George Mason University’s Center for the Arts. Known best for his Tony Award-winning show in Bring in ‘Da Noise, Bring in ‘Da Funk, Glover’s exhaustive list of accolades has earned him the title “the king of tap.” Sharing the stage with Dance Candy and a handful of fellow dancers, Glover’s exceptionally creative production delivered holiday cheer in a new, zestful experience.
It was apparent before the curtain even lifted that this would be a fun evening. As the audience listened to the usual intercom introduction about turning off your phones and the fact that photos and video were “strictly prohibited,” Glover interjected with his own greeting, saying that cell phone use was welcome and that he just wanted everyone to have fun. His band of musicians started the show with a rendition of “My Favorite Things,” a song I doubt I would have recognized if it wasn’t for Mark Abraham following the classic beat on his trumpet. It would become clear as the night wore on that Glover and his musicians took our holiday classics and completely re-vamped them, changing the tempos and using jazzy tones, with soulful vocals by Samantha Reed. The effect was fresh and welcoming; a new way to hear these holiday standards.
Glover takes the stage and begins to tap along to the steady beat– until he vamps it up, moving his feet quicker and quicker as drummer Josh McCormick keeps time. Glover is conducting the musicians with his shoes; in a playful number, McCormick matches every beat Glover throws his way, until he reaches breakneck speed and Glover’s tap shoes become a blur of color. He changes the tempo and switches up the beats, gesturing to the musicians as he does it. Every inch and angle of his shoes are utilized, from the heels, toes, to even dancing on the sides of his feet.
Other tap artists join him onstage; Marshall Davis Jr., Karissa Royster, Sarah Savelli, and Robyn Watson. They dance some numbers completely in sync with upbeat choreography, such as “Do You Hear What We Hear, ” and for other songs, they treat them as a dance-off. In the numbers “This Xmas Jam” and “Rock the Bells,” each dancer takes turns dancing to the beat while the others look on and wait for their turn. All of the dancers show great talent, especially Marshall Davis Jr., who held the audience’s rapt attention. However, Glover’s speed and stamina can’t be matched, and he easily out-taps the lot of them.
What I mainly loved about this show wasn’t the tap-dancing, though it was incredibly impressive. I loved the joyous feeling that Glover and his team brought to the concert hall. They were friendly and outgoing, and were obviously having a blast onstage, which was infectious. Glover good-naturedly teased the audience as well, singling out a man who he caught leaving early and handing his phone to a man in the front row, asking him to take a picture (“Don’t go lookin’ at my text messages, now!”). I love it when the performers engage with the audience and make them a part of the fun instead of merely observing it, and this was definitely done in this production.
I had a great time at Savion Glover: DANCE HOLIDAY SPeCTaCULaR. It was an enjoyable and very unique celebration!
Running Time: Two hours, without an intermission.