In 1989, when he was just 15 years old, actor/tap dancer/choreographer Savion Glover landed his first Tony Award nomination. But he had to wait seven years before taking one home (for Best Choreography for Bring in ‘Da Noise, Bring in ‘Da Funk). This year, at the age of 42, he is nominated again for his choreography for the musical Shuffle Along, Or, The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All that Followed.
Shuffle Along, which is currently running at New York’s Music Box Theater, is a restaging of Eubie Blake’s original musical with a new book from director George C. Wolfe. Glover had the book and songs from Blake’s show as reference, but there to go on in regards to choreography. “There’s very little, if any, footage of the show and barely any recordings as far as audio,” Glover says. “One might be familiar with the movement or energy of that period. That’s the direction. You pull from there.”
Now that Shuffle Along has been nominated for ten Tony Awards, snagging a ticket might be tough. But you can see Glover in action on Thursday, May 26 when he performs with jazz drummer Jack DeJohnette at the Valley Performing Arts Center. “Jack has an audience that might not be familiar with tap just as much as I have an audience who isn’t as familiar with Jack,” Glover says. “It’s not about sound. It’s about creating and exchanging energy andcelebrating and enjoying each other, and that spills through on stage.”
Glover’s success has merited high praise from admirers and peers—some have even called him a legend. But he balks. “These are just words or opinions,” he says. “A legend in my opinion is someone who is no longer with us, so they are legendary. Genius is just a matter of opinion to me. I’m just here to continue to excel in the tradition of tap dancing and entertainment. I’m so grateful that I’m even able to be thought of in the same breath as these contributors.” Even so, he hopes his work will live on long after he’s gone. “I suppose we all want to be remembered for something,” he says. “But it is more important to my art form that the men and women who have so graciously shared this knowledge with me be remembered for their contributions.”