Savion Glover

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Savion Glover (2007)
Born(1973-11-19) November 19, 1973 (age 38)
Newark, New Jersey, USA
OccupationChoreographer, dancer, actor
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Savion Glover (2007)
Born(1973-11-19) November 19, 1973 (age 38)
Newark, New Jersey, USA
OccupationChoreographer, dancer, actor

Savion Glover (born November 19, 1973) is an American tap dancer, actor, and choreographer. As a learning prodigy, he was taught by notable dancers from previous generations. Glover is currently interested in restoring African roots to tap. He wants to put tap back into the contemporary black context.[1] In June of 2012, Glover appeared on the Eric Andre show and rejuvenated America's passion for tap dancing.[2]



His great grandfather on his mother's side, Dick (King Richard) Lundy, was a short stop for the Negro Leagues. He managed eleven Negro League baseball teams, including the Newark Eagles.[3] His grandfather, Bill Lewis, was a big band pianist and vocalist.[3]

His grandmother, Anna Lundy Lewis, was the minister of music at Newpoint Baptists Church in Newark. She played for Whitney Houston when she was singing in the gospel choir. Anna Lundry Lewis was the one who first noticed Savion's musical talent. She once held him and hummed some rhythms to him, and he smiled and joined along.[4] [5]

Prodigal Work

Savion claims his style is young and funk. When asked to describe what funk is, he says it is the bass line. Funk is anything that gets one's head on beat. It is riding with the rhythm. It is a pulse that keeps one rolling with the beat.[6]

Gregory Hines, a tap legend, was once one of Glover's tap teachers. Hines states that, "Savion is possibly the best tap dancer that ever lived." Savion likes to start his pieces with some old school moves from famous tappers and then work his way into his own style. Hines says it’s like paying homage to those he respects, those he looks up to. When Honi Coles died, Savion performed at his memorial service. He finished his dance with a famous Coles move, a backflip into a split from standing position, then getting up without using one's hands. Savion rarely does this move because it wasn't his style, but he did it because it was Coles' style that Savion wanted to keep alive, "I feel like it's one of my responsibilities to keep the dance alive, to keep it out there, to keep the style."[7]

Henry Le Tang calls Glover the Sponge because he learns very quickly with everything that is thrown at him. Le Tang taught the Hines brothers back in the 1950s and taught Glover for a little while before having him work for "Black and Blue," a tap revue in Paris in 1987. Glover is the future of tap. Many legendary tappers taught Glover such as Le Tang, the Hines brothers, Jimmy Slyde, Chuck Green, Lon Chaney (Isaiah Chaneyfield), Honi Coles, Sammy Davis, Jr., Buster Brown, Howard Sims, and Arthur Duncan. They all passed on their moves and talents to Savion after he went public with his career with the Broadway performance in, "The Tap Dance Kid" at the age of ten.[3]


Taught tap since he was fourteen years old. Glover created Real Tap Skills. He started HooFeRzCLuB School for Tap Newark, New Jersey.[8]

Wants to bring back the real essence of tap. Savion claims he is on a mission to reclaim the rhythm that was lost when tap dancing was recycled after many generations. It started in Harlem with Sissle and Blake's 1921 musical "Shuffle Along," then to Broadway, and then in Hollywood. There in Hollywood, it lost its meaning amongst the entertainment and jazz hands. Savion wants to keep the tap real, keeping the rhythm below the waist without having to incorporate the jazz smiles and jazz hands. He wants to honor that authentic African-rooted sound.[9]

In the pre-Civil War South, slaves were forbidden to use drums because their owners feared of rebellion. Because drums were unattainable, the rhythm of the beat was relocated to their feet in the form of tap. There was a connection of the tap beat and the subversive liberation. Many tappers have played the drums in their lifetime. In addition to Savion, Harold Nicholas, Fred Astaire, Gregory Hines, and Bill “Bojangles” Robinson went from drums to tap. At the age of seven, Savion drummed in a group called Three Plus One. In the group, he demanded that he danced while he played the drum. Tap is like a drum solo where one may create many tones from the foot. The heel may be used as the bass drum, the ball as the snare, and the side of the foot as a rim shot. A regular tap dancer knows the typical ball and heel movement, but not many know about the side of the arch, the inside of the foot.[10]

Glover has a heavy foot for tap. He dances hard and loud in every step. He teaches his mentees that one must learn how to hit. "Hitting" is a term related to one's ability to express oneself, to complete a tap sequence, to say something. One can't hit if he or she cannot express themselves. Savion claims that tap won't go anywhere if tap is kept within the classroom. One must reach that point where one can hit by incorporating all the classroom moves, but converting it into his or her own style. Savion likes to see what one has learned in the class, but he only likes to see one's true self behind the new moves, how one feels, how one hears the rhythms, without any restrictions.[10]


Notable choreographed pieces

Glover's signature, with shoe taps, in front of the Warner Theatre in Washington, D.C.

Bring in 'Da Noise, Bring in 'Da Funk

ABC special, Savion Glover's Nu York

ABC opening to Monday Night Football

HBO movie, The Rat Pack

Created a dance company called NYOTs (Not Your Ordinary Tappers)

PBS for President Clinton in Savion Glover's Stomp, Slide, and Swing: In Performances in the Whitehouse

Savion Glover/Downtown: Live Communication[11]

When Glover choreographs a piece, he improvises as he generates a dance sequence. As glover teaches his dancers for Bring in 'Da Noise, Bring in 'Da Funk during rehearsals, he frequently stops during his improvisation and asks his dancers, "Hear the beat?" Savion has a keen sense of music and rhythm. He can hear a lot more of what is going on than what his performs can. As he listens to every beat of the music, he can transmit it straight to his feet. Savion likes to stop and listen to the lighter sounds, in order to give his dancing a distinguished power and force created by his obsessive examination of rhythms. Glover doesn't know where his talent to find special dance moves comes from, but he doesn't question it. Anything can happen when he is in rehearsals because he creates his every move on the spot, never really thinking or worrying about what he doesn’t know beforehand.[12]

As he finds rhythms, he listens for new sounds at many different points on the stage. "I'm feelin' the stage for sounds. You might find a spot on it that gives you that bass; you might find a spot on the floor that gives you that dead type tom-tom sound." Watching Glover build and organize the intricate wave of rhythms is like observing a mathematical equation being set up and factored out. "I think what makes Savion an incredible artist is his extraordinary joy in what he does. He is able to live in that state of joy and not compromise his emotional complexity like the earlier tap dancers had to," says George C. Wolfe. He is as much a composer as he is a choreographer.[13]


"The Tap Dance Kid" (1985)

This play was based on the novel "Nobody's Family is Going to Change" by Louise Fitzhugh. Savion's Broadway debut started at the age of ten with this show. He was directed and choreographed by Danny Daniels. Glover has been captivating audiences ever since this play for almost thirty years now. Reviews of this show were given mediocre ratings. The New York Times claimed it was a traditional story to give children a dream to look forward to, but it wasn't anything exceptional. The lyrics by Robert Lorick were generally too conventional to strengthen the script. The music was led by Henry Krieger, a brilliant orchestrator who failed this time to keep his audiences singing proceeding the show. The design aspect was given good reviews because it portrayed a life like collage of a bright Broadway.[14]

"Black and Blue" (1989)

Performed at the age of fifteen. After this performance, he was nominated as one of the youngest performers nominated for a Tony at the time.[15]

The play celebrates the talents of black musicians, singers, and dancers. The tap dance sequences were specifically tied to the elegance of the class acts, insisting on stylish dignity. The dancers and choreography were raved with terrific work by restraining the remarkable and favoring a collective brilliance of sound. The opening scene sets the tone. The audiences were astonished with the capabilities and talents of tap dancers. Savion Glover and his teenage partners, Cyd Glover and Dormeshia Sumbry, were in charge of wooing their spectators in the staircase dance with foot shaking resilience. Black and Blue was a luxuriant show.[15]

"Jelly's Last Jam" (1992)

It was said that this play was a predecessor to the uprising of jazz music. The dancing was choreographed by Ted Levy and Mr. Hines. Every step as well as every hand and head motion was rehearsed to the very inch. Savion played as Jelly. It was the story of a man who rose to fame. He came of age playing piano in a brothel then later took to travel among the railroad after his caretaker, his great grandmother, disowned him. He scavenged to survive. Jelly made his unique genre of music, jazz, known to the world and captivating his spectators in his travels.[8]

"Bring in 'Da Noise, Bring in 'Da Funk" (1996)

Won a Tony award for his Broadway show.[3]

New York times claims that Glover nor his dancers can be faulted in their performance. This Broadway presentation showed the power of dance. Glover found ways to show an equivalence through tap of urban industrialization, the early days of plantations, Harlem-Renaissance, and the race riots. "Mr. Glover meticulously and respectfully demonstrates the techniques made famous by each, then blends them all into an exultant stylistic brew that belongs to no one but him. As dance, as musical, as theater, as art, as history and entertainment, there's nothing Noise/Funk cannot and should not do." -New York Times.[16]

Notable Filmography

Bamboozled (2000)

Television Programs

Sesame Street (1991–1995)

"Dance in America: Tap!"

Black Film Makers Hall of Fame

The Kennedy Center Honors

Academy Awards Ceremony (1996) for Tom Hanks tribute[17]

The Eric Andre Show (2012)

Notable Awards

Tony Award

1996 - Best Choreography for "Bring in 'Da Noise, Bring in 'Da Funk"

Dance Magazine Award

National Endowment for the Arts Grant

1992 - for choreography, making him the youngest recipient in N.E.A. history.[18]

Famous Works

Stage Appearances

1984 - The Tap Dance Kid, (Broadway debut) Title character

1989-1991- Black and Blue, Minskoff Theatre, New York City

1992-1993 - Jelly's Last Jam, as Young Jelly, Virginia Theatre, New York City

1996-1997 - Bring in da Noise, Bring in da Funk, Ambassador Theatre, New York City

1998 - Savion Glover: Downtown, Variety Arts Theatre, New York City

1999 - Keep Bangin', Players Theatre, New York City

2001 - Foot Notes, Wilshire Theatre, Los Angeles

2002 - Savion Glover with TiDii the Egg, Empire State Plaza, Albany, NY[19]

Major Tours

2002 - Bring in da Noise, Bring in da Funk, U.S. cities/international cities

Also toured U.S. cities in Jelly's Last Jam[19]

Stage Work

1996-1997 - Bring in da Noise, Bring in da Funk, as the choreographer, Ambassador Theatre, New York City[19]

Television Appearances

1990-1995 - Sesame Street (also known as Les amis de Sesame, Canadian Sesame Street, The New Sesame Street, Open Sesame, and Sesame Park), as Savion, on PBS[19]


1990 - Shangri-La Plaza, CBS[19]

Television Movies

1998 - The Wall, as Bracey Mitchell, Showtime

1998 - The Rat Pack, as the choreographer, HBO

2001 - Bojangles, as Newcomer, Showtime[19]

Film Appearances

1988 - Driving Me Crazy, Audition artist, First Run

1989 - Tap, as Louis, TriStar

2000 - Bamboozled, as Manray/Mantan, New Line

2001 - The Making of "Bamboozled,"

2000 - Barbra Streisand's "Timeless"

2006 - Happy Feet[19],Choreography and motion capture for Mumbles.

2011 - Happy Feet 2, Choreography for Mumbles

Film Work

2000 - Bamboozled, as the choreographer, New Line[19]

Awards Presentations

1989 - The 61st Annual Academy Awards Presentation, ABC

1989 - 16th Annual Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame, syndicated

1997 - Launching the Tonys, as the Presenter, Broadway `97, PBS

1997 - The 51st Annual Tony Awards, CBS

1997 - 39th Grammy Awards, CBS

1998 - The 13th Annual Stellar Gospel Music Awards, syndicated

1998 - 12th Annual Soul Train Music Awards, syndicated

1999 - 30th NAACP Image Awards, Fox

2001 - The 32nd NAACP Image Awards, Fox[19]


1987 - Super Dave

1998 - Sin City Spectacular (also known as Penn & Teller's Sin City Spectacular), FX

1999 - The Jamie Foxx Show, "Taps for Royal," The WB

1999 - Saturday Night Live, (Uncredited), NBC

2000 - Odyssey, America!

2003 - Cedric the Entertainer Presents, Bartholomew, Fox[19]

Music Videos

2001 - Timeless: Live in Concert, Brother Time

Also appeared in the music video "Havana" by Kenny G.

Also appeared in the music video "All about the Benjamins" by Puff Daddy and the Family[19]


1989 - Black and Blue (original cast recording), DRG

1992 - Jelly's Last Jam (original cast recording), Mercury

1995 - Hot Jazz for a Cool Yule, Pacific Vista Productions

1996 - Bring in da Noise, Bring in da Funk (original cast recording), RCAVictor[19]

1996 - Prince: "Joint 2 Joint" (tap dance breakdown), from the album "Emancipation"

2002 - Talib kweli-Stand 2 the side, from the album "Quality"


1997 - Contemporary Black Biography, Volume 14, Gale

1997 - Newsmakers, Issue 4, Gale[19]


November 1994 - Dance Magazine

April 1996 - Dance Magazine

May 23, 1998 - TV Guide, p. 6[19]


1989 - Tap Dance in America (also known as Gregory Hines' Tap Dance in America), PBS

1991 - The Kennedy Center Honors: A Celebration of the Performing Arts, CBS

1992 - Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, NBC

1992 - Jammin': Jelly Roll Morton on Broadway (documentary), PBS

1993 - Sesame Street Stays Up Late! (also known as Sesame Street Stays Up Late! A Monster New Year's Eve Party), as Savion, PBS

1994 - Sesame Street's All-Star 25th Birthday: Stars and Street Forever!, ABC

1994 - In a New Light `94, ABC

1995 - The Kennedy Center Honors: A Celebration of the Performing Arts, CBS

1996 - Vanessa Williams & Friends: Christmas in New York, ABC

1997 - It Just Takes One, USA

1997 - 53rd Presidential Inaugural Gala, CBS

1998 - Slide and Swing with Savion Glover, Stomp, PBS

1998 - Savion Glover's Nu York, as the Host, ABC

1998 - Savion Glover's Nu York, Executive producer and choreographer, ABC

1998 - The First 50 Years, Quincy Jones, ABC

1998 - The New Jersey Performing Arts Center Opening Night Gala, PBS, Ads by Google

1999 - Disney's Young Musicians Symphony Orchestra in Concert, Disney Channel

2000 - The Steadfast Tin Soldier: An Animated Special from the "Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child" Series (animated), the voice of toy dancer, HBO

2001 - Barbra Streisand-Timeless, Brother Time, Fox

2001 - Barbra Streisand-Timeless, as the choreographer, Fox

2002 - Olympic Winter Games, Closing ceremony, NBC

2002 - AFI Life Achievement Award: A Tribute to Tom Hanks, USA[19]


2000 - Savion! My Life in Tap, with Bruce Weber, HarperCollins[19]


Works Cited

External links