Friday, June 15, 2007

Jazz Hands (Well, Feet Actually)

So, the soundtrack to my Wednesday evening went a bit like this: Tap. Tap. Tap. Tippety, tap. Tippety, tappety, tippety, tappety. Tap, tap, tippety, tap. Tappety, tappety, tappety. TAP. TAP. TAP.

I was at Sadler’s Wells, watching Savion Glover make his London debut. Glover is a big name in the US tap scene, though his name was new to me (apparently he had something to do with that icky, animated penguin syrup-fest Happy Feet, but I shan’t hold that against him - though someone, somewhere should surely pay).

Anyway, being a creature of habit, I went to the Tinderbox CafĂ© on Upper Street first, as I usually do when seeing anything at Sadler's, and had a big, frothy mocha – because they serve it in 1950s milkshake glasses and that’s really all it takes to make me happy – and read a few chapters of my book before heading over to the theatre.

The posters for the show had led me to expect some kind of big dance spectacular but actually the show was very minimal in its approach and it was all the better for it. There was no set to speak of, just a four piece jazz band gently noodling away. Glover came on, dressed all in white save for a pair of bright green tap shoes, and, head down and dreadlocks bobbing, began to do his stuff, tapping away in time to the music. It felt more like a jam session than anything else, with the rhythms made by Glover’s feet forming an integral part of the music.

This idea – the body as instrument – was taken further in the livelier and longer second half, where he was joined on stage by three supporting dancers – they each had their solo moment, taking turns to create riffs, but in his own understated way Glover was the star. In my rare brushes with traditionally staged ballets, I’ve always come away feeling in awe of the dancers’ evident technical skill but unable to connect emotionally with what I had seen. On this occasion I was able to do both. I left the venue feeling pleasantly uplifted though, unlike some other audience members, I was (just) about able to restrain myself from testing out some rudimentary tap moves on the Islington streets as I walked back to the tube.

3 comments:

Andrew Field said...

A friend of mine from New York was frothing at the mouth with excitement at this guy being in town, before and after the show, and, well... green tap shoes? You won me. I'm booking my tickets.

Helen Smith said...

Hello Natasha - this sounds fantastic. I'd seen the posters on the tube proclaiming him as the world's best tap dancer (and thought - how do you know?)

There are no tickets left so I've made do with the video clip on the Sadler's Wells website. It's interspersed with penguin clips but if you stick with it, he does give you a tap dancing lesson. Tap tap tap, yeah, tap tap tap - I think I'm getting the hang of it...

Oh, and judging by the video clip, it looks as if he really is the world's best tap dancer.

Interval Drinks said...

Hello, it was indeed fantastic. I too knew very little about him beforehand, or tap-dancing for that matter, other than that he was meant to be very good at it. The show quite low key, but once you started to tune in to what he was doing, quite brilliant.