Site Network

Tap Icon Savion Glover Is Bringing His Unique Style to Convention Classes

Glover teaching at JUMP. Courtesy of Break the Floor Productions

Savion Glover is one of the biggest names in the dance world, and perhaps the biggest in the tap world. The trailblazing hoofer's hard-hitting, rhythmically intricate style has fundamentally altered the tap landscape.

Glover is also a master teacher. But during his many years on the scene, he's never appeared regularly at a major dance convention. That is, until this season: Glover is now teaching at JUMP Dance Convention, scheduled to appear at approximately 15 more cities on its 2019–2020 tour.

We talked with JUMP director Mike Minery, himself a gifted hoofer, about working with a living legend—and how Glover is already changing the convention class game.


How did Savion come on board at JUMP?

Tap is my forte, and Gil Stroming, the convention's owner, is a tapper, too. Both of us just idolized Savion growing up, because he completely revolutionized tap dancing. The style we do today, you can trace a lot of it back to Savion's Broadway show from the '90s, Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in 'da Funk. I used to drive anywhere to take his class. For ages, Gil and I had talked about how amazing it'd be to have him on the faculty. We pursued him for a few years, and finally the scheduling worked out.

What classes is he teaching? 

He's doing a three-hour "Savion experience" on Friday nights, made up of three classes: one for the teachers, one for the younger dancers, and then an advanced class for the 15-and-up group. He doesn't approach teaching, especially at convention, like anyone else I've seen. Which in a way I expected, because, you know, he's Savion! But also, he's not really immersed in today's convention culture. So it's refreshing to watch him work without any predetermined ideas of what that class should look like.

How are his classes different from your average convention class?

Most convention tap classes are very content- and step-driven, with the students learning a combination to a specific piece of music. The end goal is to train the dancers in tap vocabulary. Savion's approach is, Oh, you guys know the steps already. He doesn't want to show you a combo the way he'd do it; he wants you to do what you do. It's a more intellectual experience, one that encourages you to think on your own, instead of him telling you what he wants. There's a lot of dance history involved, too. In one class, he was telling the kids, "Repeat after me: In Slyde We Trust," referring to Jimmy Slyde.

How have the students been responding to him?

It's funny, because I've looked up to Savion for 25 years, so I feel like one of the parents on the sideline—I don't want my kids to disappoint him! But they've been great. He has such an aura about him, and the dancers have really responded to that. He wants everyone to fully understand what he's saying, so he won't let anyone off the hook, and all the students have risen to the challenge. I think they understand that when he's singling out someone who's struggling, he's actually using them as a tool to help teach the lesson.

How does Savion's work fit into your larger mission for the convention?

I mean, if you can get Savion, you get Savion! He has so much to offer. We want the best teachers in the world in each genre, and Savion is exactly that.

Teacher Voices
Getty Images

In 2001, young Chanel, a determined, ambitious, fiery, headstrong teenager, was about to begin her sophomore year at LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, also known as the highly acclaimed "Fame" school. I was a great student, a promising young dancer and well-liked by my teachers and my peers. On paper, everything seemed in order. In reality, this picture-perfect image was fractured. There was a crack that I've attempted to hide, cover up and bury for nearly 20 years.

Keep reading... Show less
Health & Body
Getty Images

Though the #MeToo movement has spurred many dancers to come forward with their stories of sexual harassment and abuse, the dance world has yet to have a full reckoning on the subject. Few institutions have made true cultural changes, and many alleged predators continue to work in the industry.

As Chanel DaSilva's story shows, young dancers are particularly vulnerable to abuse because of the power differential between teacher and student. We spoke with eight experts in dance, education and psychology about steps that dance schools could take to protect their students from sexual abuse.

Keep reading... Show less
Technique
Nan Melville, courtesy Genn

Not so long ago, it seemed that ballet dancers were always encouraged to pull up away from the floor. Ideas evolved, and more recently it has become common to hear teachers saying "Push down to go up," and variations on that concept.

Charla Genn, a New York City–based coach and dance rehabilitation specialist who teaches company class for Dance Theatre of Harlem, American Ballet Theatre and Ballet Hispánico, says that this causes its own problems.

"Often when we tell dancers to go down, they physically push down, or think they have to plié more," she says. These are misconceptions that keep dancers from, among other things, jumping to their full potential.

To help dancers learn to efficiently use what she calls "Mother Marley," Genn has developed these clever techniques and teaching tools.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.