Glover teaching at JUMP (courtesy Break the Floor Productions)

Tap Icon Savion Glover Is Bringing His Unique Style to Convention Classes

Savion Glover is one of the biggest names in the dance world, and perhaps the biggest in the tap world. The trailblazing hoofer's hard-hitting, rhythmically intricate style has fundamentally altered the tap landscape.

Glover is also a master teacher. But during his many years on the scene, he's never appeared regularly at a major dance convention. That is, until this season: Glover is now teaching at JUMP Dance Convention, scheduled to appear at approximately 15 more cities on its 2019–2020 tour.

We talked with JUMP director Mike Minery, himself a gifted hoofer, about working with a living legend—and how Glover is already changing the convention class game.


How did Savion come on board at JUMP?

Tap is my forte, and Gil Stroming, the convention's owner, is a tapper, too. Both of us just idolized Savion growing up, because he completely revolutionized tap dancing. The style we do today, you can trace a lot of it back to Savion's Broadway show from the '90s, Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in 'da Funk. I used to drive anywhere to take his class. For ages, Gil and I had talked about how amazing it'd be to have him on the faculty. We pursued him for a few years, and finally the scheduling worked out.

What classes is he teaching? 

He's doing a three-hour "Savion experience" on Friday nights, made up of three classes: one for the teachers, one for the younger dancers, and then an advanced class for the 15-and-up group. He doesn't approach teaching, especially at convention, like anyone else I've seen. Which in a way I expected, because, you know, he's Savion! But also, he's not really immersed in today's convention culture. So it's refreshing to watch him work without any predetermined ideas of what that class should look like.

How are his classes different from your average convention class?

Most convention tap classes are very content- and step-driven, with the students learning a combination to a specific piece of music. The end goal is to train the dancers in tap vocabulary. Savion's approach is, Oh, you guys know the steps already. He doesn't want to show you a combo the way he'd do it; he wants you to do what you do. It's a more intellectual experience, one that encourages you to think on your own, instead of him telling you what he wants. There's a lot of dance history involved, too. In one class, he was telling the kids, "Repeat after me: In Slyde We Trust," referring to Jimmy Slyde.

How have the students been responding to him?

It's funny, because I've looked up to Savion for 25 years, so I feel like one of the parents on the sideline—I don't want my kids to disappoint him! But they've been great. He has such an aura about him, and the dancers have really responded to that. He wants everyone to fully understand what he's saying, so he won't let anyone off the hook, and all the students have risen to the challenge. I think they understand that when he's singling out someone who's struggling, he's actually using them as a tool to help teach the lesson.

How does Savion's work fit into your larger mission for the convention?

I mean, if you can get Savion, you get Savion! He has so much to offer. We want the best teachers in the world in each genre, and Savion is exactly that.

Latest Posts


Photo by Jayme Thornton

How Paloma Garcia-Lee Manifested Her Dream Role, in Steven Spielberg’s "West Side Story"

On a rainy day in November 2018, Paloma Garcia-Lee got a call from her agent that brought her to her knees outside her New York City apartment: She was going to play Graziella in Steven Spielberg's West Side Story.

The call came after a lengthy audition process with Spielberg in the room, and the role, originated by Wilma Curley on Broadway in 1957 and later portrayed by Gina Trikonis in the 1961 film, was her biggest dream. In fact, it's something Garcia-Lee says she manifested from the day plans for the movie were announced in January 2018. "I wrote in my journal: 'I am playing Graziella in Steven Spielberg's West Side Story.'"

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Photo by @mediabyZ

Am I Less Committed to Dance Because I Have Other Passions? (Spoiler Alert: NO!)

Let's face it—dance is HARD, and in order to achieve your goals, you need to be committed to your training. "Still, there's a fine line between being committed and being consumed." Dancers can, and should, have interests outside of the studio.

Not convinced? We talked with dance psychologist Dr. Lucie Clements and two multifaceted dancers, Kristen Harlow (a musical theater dancer pursuing a career in NYC and Kentucky) and Kallie Takahashi (a dancer in her final year at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts), and got the inside scoop on how having hobbies outside of dance can inform your artistry, expand your range and help prevent burnout.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Photo courtesy of Brittany Conigatti

Go Behind the Scenes of Annie Live! With Brittany Conigatti

Unwrap your candy canes, pour the hot chocolate and round up your fellow theater lovers: NBC is kicking off the Christmas season with its latest live-broadcast TV musical. Annie Live! premieres December 2 and features a star-studded cast, including Harry Connick Jr., Tituss Burgess, Megan Hilty and, as the title character, young phenom Celina Smith.

Luckily, people got a taste of what the special will entail when the cast kicked off the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with a performance last week. But since you’re never fully dressed without a Dance Spirit exclusive, we caught up with Brittany Conigatti, one of the young orphans and adult ensemble members in the show, to learn what it was like putting together a large-scale live production for the small screen.

The cast of Annie Live! poses for a group photo. The cast of Annie Live!Photo courtesy of Conigatti


Keep Reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks

contest
Enter the Cover Model Search