Sunday, July 7, 2013

A joyful noise: Savion Glover brings STePz to the Joyce

Savion Glover (r) and Marshall Davis Jr. ring some changes on
the stair dancing made famous by Bill "Bojangles" Robinson
(photo by Elijah Paul)

By the time you read this, it will be too late to catch STePz--the latest and, to my eye, most incandescent tap dance production brought to The Joyce Theater by the great Savion Glover. I hope that someone will help Glover to take this show on the road, keep it going somehow, until the shoes and feet fall off each of its five hoofers or until Armageddon, whichever happens first.
Savion Glover in action
(photo by Elijah Paul)
STePz should not fade into history. Everyone should have the chance to see Glover looking up, looking out and beaming, perhaps, from the joy of knowing he has gathered the right crew: Marshall Davis Jr., Robyn Watson, Ayodele Casel and Sarah Savelli. This ensemble rocks consummate discipline, style, sass and stamina. Glover has pulled it off: a show that manages to be both delightfully playful and bracingly tight. Neatly arranged into two halves featuring six numbers each, the 90-minute program slips from one high-powered dance into the next--nods to Miles Davis, Gregory Hines, Stevie Wonder and more--with barely a pause for breath.

A tap dancer's perennially loving, reverent gaze into the storied past of ancestral mentors might have brought a stern life lesson: Get busy. No time for nonsense.

The new, unexpected radiance coming off Glover is no illusion. Whatever the source, it frees his entire body and his aura and self-presentation, makes him gutsier, more responsive and musical than ever. You can believe his Mission Impossible theme face-off with Davis Jr.--numerous attacks on stacks of stairs in ways that would make Bill "Bojangles" Robinson faint--could go on forever. No quit, really, in either man.
Left to right: Robyn Watson, Ayodele Casel and Sarah Savelli
aka, 3CW (3 Controversial Women)
(photo by Elijah Paul)
It's always a pleasure, and instructive, to watch Casel's feet work with the focus and precision of delicate needlework, and it has been too long since I've seen the juicy Savelli in action. Savelli's dancing reminds me of why I like to dance. I also got a kick out of the way the jazzy, tuneful Watson allowed herself more time than Glover apparently had planned. As she worked through her solo turn in Miles Mode, Glover started back on stage, then had to back off! No quit in any of these women, either!

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