Savion Glover taps vitality at the Walker 

Savion Glover came, danced and conquered. He’s back at Madame Walker Theatre Center for a dance intensive and an encore public performance Aug. 20-24.

“My style is young. Funk. I feel like it’s one of my responsibilities to keep the dance alive. To keep it out there. To keep the style,” commented Glover during an interview prior to his Nov. 19 debut at the Walker. Glover was ruminating about working with young dancers nationwide as part of his connecting and giving back. After multiple seasons on Sesame Street, Savion Glover has become a household name, if not an icon, and tap dance has had a revival nationwide, albeit a tardy one in Indiana.

Cynthia Bates, president of the Madame Walker Theatre Center, can hardly contain the excitement. “Students from various dance schools throughout Central Indiana came to see Savion Glover perform, meet him and present him with birthday tributes. He performed here on his 33rd birthday. The energy and excitement generated from his performance led to his dance camp targeting inner-city youth ages 5-18. Our area youth have great affection and respect for Savion. He radiates such warmth towards them on a personal level.

“As Walker is striding into its ninth decade, our mission remains to honor our namesake, Madam C. J. Walker, and build on our rich history and heritage as a national performing arts center. We are launching new family and youth focused programs. Within that kaleidoscope is a large piece for dance. Our hope is to establish a long-term relationship with Savion to do a dance camp and performance annually.

“Where would we be without the arts — and public funding for the arts?” asks Bates, rhetorically. “I’m a strong advocate for challenging our youth [and their parents and caregivers]. They oft times have no idea of the long-term potential of arts education, so they have to learn to project what’s possible.”

Bates recounts her own mentoring at IPS and then IU, where she received a degree in piano performance. She speaks of the “advantages” she had through her family nurturing her talents. She and her husband have continued the nurturing with their children. Bates feels it is imperative to find ways for all youth in Indianapolis to gain access to the same “advantages” she and her family have had. Making opportunities in the arts for all children “so they can find solace in their lives” is her driving force.

“But in this community there really aren’t enough places within easy access for our kids to go and get exposure to all the arts and to feel that someone really cares about them. It is critical for Walker to be a magnet for opportunity.”

Bates cites “opportunity” as what Madam C.J. Walker provided for women and their families during her lifetime. “We are continuing her daring to go out on a limb. We want to expose our youth and their families to the diversity of opportunities that exist. If you keep doing and giving the same thing you aren’t tapping into individual potential.

“My vision for the Walker? Be a big umbrella with dance, music, drama, comedy all using this facility to open children to the arts. Collaborate with other organizations. To that end, we’ve ‘adopted’ the Metropolitan Youth Orchestra. Feb. 22, 2008, the Walker Center and Pike Performing Arts Center are opening master classes to greater Indianapolis dancers. Superstar choreographers will join forces with our Midwest’s best dancers. It’s exposure for our youth to gain ideas and technique from people whose work is cutting edge.”

Bates envisions the arc of the Walker’s 2007-’08 season as a continuum of Glover’s dance intensive. “It’s a gift, his coming; an inspiring gift with a happy face.”


Public performances:

Madame Walker Theatre
617 Indiana Ave.
More info: www.walkertheatre.com or call 317-236-2099

Dance Intensive Showcase
Aug. 23, 7 p.m.
Tickets: $5.00 [at door, no phone reservations]

Savion Glover in BARE SOUNDZ
also features Marshall Davis Jr. and Maurice Chestnut
Aug. 24 at 8 p.m.
Tickets: $25/$20 at the Walker box office, or telephone or www.walkertheatre.com

Under the direction and improvography of Savion Glover, BARE SOUNDZ is a music mosaic hosting sounds explaining jazz, Caribbean beats and other contemporary musical genres. “Tap dance is an acoustical instrument,” Glover states. “I hope to share tap dance as percussive sound and song.”

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Rita Kohn

Rita Kohn

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Rita Kohn has been covering craft beer and the arts for NUVO for two decades. She’s the author of True Brew: A Guide to Craft Beer in Indiana.

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