On Saturday Oct., 7th, a balmy California evening, tap master Savion Glover brought his show “SoUNDz SaCRoSaNcT “to The Soraya. The house was full, and the audience was primed and ready for a special night in “Tribute to Gregory Hines and The Hoofers.”  The Soraya’s Artistic Director Thor Steingraber welcomed the crowd and acknowledged members of the Hines family. The anticipation was high as the lights dimmed and the show commenced.

Pre-set center was a large sprung platform tap stage, wired to magnify the sounds to come. Surrounding the platform was a full drum kit, an upright bass, a TV set running video clips from the hay day of dance films, a large photo portrait of Gregory Hines, various microphones on stands, several podiums and an upstage screen that rose and fell as needed. If it sounds a bit chaotic, it was and it was a hint of things to come.

Savion Glover - Photo by Luis Luque, Luque Photography

Savion Glover – Photo by Luis Luque, Luque Photography

In the silence two unnamed actors crossed the stage along with two or three musicians, also unnamed, carrying their brass instruments. After some general wandering about, the female actor dressed in a doctor’s white coat and one male actor, in scrubs, began an indecipherable dialogue, as the musicians left the stage. Though we could hear her clearly, the male actor garbled and swallowed his words becoming completely unintelligible. In the end, however, it did not matter as the dialogue did nothing to bring any sense of continuity to the show and the actors became superfluous. Thankfully, it wasn’t long before Savion, the hoped-for savior arrived, donned his white tap shoes and hit the stage.

Savion Glover with musicians in “SoUNDz SaCRoSaNcT “ - Photo by Luis Luque, Luque Photography

Savion Glover with musicians in “SoUNDz SaCRoSaNcT “ – Photo by Luis Luque, Luque Photography

Unassumingly he began with quiet rhythms, slowly building in ferocity into a long and completely consuming solo that ultimately brought the house down. Unfortunately, there was a return to meaningless dialogue or “spoken word” in between each set of Savion’s improvisational hoofing. These meanderings brought any momentum gained to a complete stop. Again, and again Savion brought the room back to rapt attention with his unbelievable savant like ability to create a world of mesmerizing sound.

After two or three wildly entertaining solos by Mr. Glover, interspersed with inconsequential dialogue, we came to the highly anticipated “Tribute to Gregory Hines and The Hoofers.”  This consisted of reading the names of the past greats including Jimmy Slyde, Sandman Sims, Arthur Duncan, the Nicholas Bros., Sammy Davis Jr., and most importantly Savion’s beloved mentor Gregory Hines, who was sadly lost too soon. No overt efforts were made, however, to inhabit the styles that made these tap pioneers unique and that informed every tap step taken by anyone who has ever done a shuffle. This was a lamentable oversight and a lost chance to educate while entertaining.

Cast of Savion Glover's “SoUNDz SaCRoSaNcT “ - Photo by Luis Luque, Luque Photography

Cast of Savion Glover’s “SoUNDz SaCRoSaNcT “ – Photo by Luis Luque, Luque Photography

The show came to a clunky end when Savion abruptly left his tap stage and took to the drums, which no surprise, he plays well. However, this left the actors to dither around until finally the female actor began to improvise a song by repeating “outer space is the place” over and over again. She can sing and I believe she can act if given something to work with but alas, this was not it.

Some musicians had joined Savion on stage throughout the evening including a bass player and horns but they were completely underused and perhaps under rehearsed as well.

This chaotically disorganized show, though well intentioned, is not ready for prime time. Mr. Glover would benefit from bringing in directors, writers and other professionals to help bring his ideas to fruition. In the end the show only came alive when Savion did what he does best, tap like nobody else in the world.

To learn more about The Soraya, please visit their website.

Written by Tam Warner for LA Dance Chronicle.

Featured image: Savion Glover in “SoUNDz SaCRoSaNcT “ – Photo by Luis Luque, Luque Photography