Savion Glover’s OM Opens This Week at The Joyce Theater
Last night at The Joyce, the curtain rose to reveal a stage lit with more than a hundred candles surrounding four tap floors and different religious icons. There were blown-up photos of Savion Glover’s mentors Gregory Hines, Jimmy Slyde and Sammy Davis Jr., and the Dalai Lama and Mahatma Gandi. Old tap shoes hung from the brick wall at the back of the stage. A record sleeve of Michael Jackson’s Thriller was on one of the monitors. In the middle of it was Glover, alone, barely moving and dressed all in white, making ripples of sound with his feet.
Shortly after, he was joined by longtime collaborator Marshall Davis Jr. and company members Keitaro Hosokawa, Olivia Rosencrantz and Mari Fujibayashi. For the opening, they all danced. But for most of the show it was just Glover, with Davis coming in at long and short intervals. There were other people sitting on the stage, eyes closed, in meditative states or just listening. Glover barely took a break for an hour and a half, dancing full-out, bringing it back down and performing in complex repetitions, hitting hard at times, sweeping the sides of his shoes across the stage and mesmerizing everyone in the process. The audience sat barely moving, meditating along with his rhythms. This might have been a religious gathering.
“Om” is the manifestation of God through sound in the Hindu faith, a mantra that’s repeated to invoke meditation, and that’s what Glover attempts to do in this piece with his feet. He taps with Tibetan and Indian music in the background, which leaves a feeling of wide-openness. He taps facing the audience for the first third, then moves to face the right and gives a new perspective. Then with his back to the audience for the final portion of the show, it’s as if he’s turned away from the world to transcend it.
The repetition of both his feet and the music seemed to do their job, putting the audience into this trance-like state and sending Glover into a closed-eye ecstasy. At the end, there were no bows. Glover walked away into the dim light behind him and it was over with no fanfare. The curtain closed and the opening notes to John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme” came on the sound system.
Photo by Richard Termine, courtesy of Keith Sherman & Associates Inc.