While Elijah Wood provides the voice for Mumble—the emperor penguin who stars in Warner Bros.’ animated feature Happy Feet, debuting November 17—Savion Glover is behind his moves. Born without the ability to sing well, like the rest of his species, Mumble instead has an innate talent for tap dancing.
Director George Miller approached Glover more than two years ago in Seattle after seeing Glover perform in his touring show Improvography. “I thought [the project] was the coolest thing I had ever heard of,” says Glover. “I’m into anything about tap dancing, especially on this level where it’s animation and a new generation of kids can be aware of tap.”
Shortly after accepting Miller’s offer, Glover went to Australia to start working with the film’s production team. First, he attended penguin school: “I had to study the penguin from birth to adult,” Glover says. “I got to see their walks and try to incorporate that in my dance.”
To create the 3-D Mumble, Glover danced on set while covered with motion sensors and surrounded by hundreds of infrared cameras that mapped his every move. The data collected by the sensors created an outline of the penguin, and the crew used digital animation to fill it in. Mumble’s predetermined path was also drawn on the studio floor for Glover to follow. “It was challenging to remember, ‘I’m going down a hill now,’ or ‘I’m jumping off an edge now,’” Glover explains. “It was [also] a challenge to . . . maintain my penguin-ness. Your body has to be in a form; you have to walk in a style all day. I saw [actors] walking off the set and they were still walking like penguins.”
The film, says Glover, not only takes tap dancing into new territory, but also champions the importance of dance through its storyline. “[Happy Feet] is about a penguin who is simple: He knows nothing except tap dancing,” Glover says. “He’s an outcast because of his ability. No one else can do what he does, and at first, like with all things, people are not understanding. By the end, they realize that this dance is life, it’s self-expression.”
There's a common misconception that a dancer's body has to be thin. But the truth is that talent knows no body type, and the number on the scale never determines an artist's capabilities. Here are some extraordinary dancers fighting the stereotype of what a dancer "should" look like.
Getting corrections from our dance instructors is how we grow, and as students, it's important that we do our best to apply every correction right away. But sometimes—whether it's because we're in physical pain, or have a lot on our minds, or are just not paying attention—those corrections don't sink in. And from a teacher's standpoint, giving the same corrections time and time again gets old very fast. Here are 10 important corrections dance teachers are tired of giving. Take them to heart!
Summer intensive auditions can be nerve-racking. A panel of directors is watching your every move, and you're not even sure if you can be seen among the hundreds of other dancers in the room. We asked five summer intensive directors for their input on how dancers can make a positive impression—and even be remembered next year.
We always love a good halftime performance. And we LIVE for halftime performances involving talented kids. (Fingers and toes crossed that Justin Timberlake follows Missy Elliott's lead and invites some fabulous littles to share his Super Bowl stage.)
So obviously, our hearts completely melted for 5-year-old Tavaris Jones. Tavaris may have just started kindergarten, but during Monday night's game between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors, the Detroit native danced with the panache of a veteran pro at halftime.
The coolest place she's ever performed:
I'd have to say the Super Bowl. The field was so cool, and Katy Perry was right there. And there were so many eyes—definitely the most eyes I've ever performed for!
Something she's constantly working on:
My feet. I'm flat-footed, so I'm always hearing, 'Point your toes!' And I'm like, 'I am!'
My hair! That, and a pair of leggings with a T-shirt or tank top.
In our "Dear Katie" series, former NYCB soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email email@example.com for a chance to be featured!
For a long time, I was the strongest dancer at my studio. But this year there's a new girl in my class who's very talented, and my teacher's attention has definitely shifted to her. I'm trying not to feel jealous or discouraged, but it seems like my whole dance world has changed. Help!
In the dance world, Mandy Moore has long been a go-to name, but in 2017, the success of her choreography for La La Land made the rest of the world stop and take notice. After whirlwind seasons as choreographer and producer on both "Dancing with the Stars" and "So You Think You Can Dance," she capped off the year with two Emmy Award nominations—and her first win. Dance Magazine caught up with her to find out how she's balancing all of her dance projects.