Savion Glover opened a month-long tour of Maria’s Voice, a new piece about domestic abuse and its inter-generational consequences, on Oct. 10 at the Madame Walker Theatre Center. Playwright Marcella Goheen, granddaughter of Maria Salazar, who was murdered by her husband in 1931, collaborated with Glover on the piece, which asks us to recognize our denial of physical, sexual and emotional abuse between people, no matter their relationship to each other.
Glover opened the piece under a low light, tapping out a slow-paced staccato interspersed with punctuation, as if working out what to say, how to make a point. His absorption intensified as he gained speed and momentum. His eyes are closed, head down, upper body hardly moving, feet hardly visible, slicing his right right foot across the platform causing a reverb like a fingernail across a chalkboard, Glover radiated a pain beyond comfort, fear beyond mitigation, loneliness as dark as moonless night.
And then a guitarist slid into his seat, matching his playing with Glover’s beat. Glover took notice — a bit of fancy footwork, and with a spin he’s on the other side of the platform — and release! The mood slowly evolved, with the interior monologue finding its way into a conversation between strings and taps.
Finally a woman’s halting words changed the paradigm — “I am you / you are me/ she is,” she sang.
Silence. Long, long silence. We held our breath waiting for more words. Glover and guitarist intensifies their attack and then came a tumble of words, faster, louder, cutting, slicing, slashing. And then a new beat, a new melody, a new speech. Now united, Glover, guitarist and woman expand into an uplifting song. The transformation traveled through us. We were frozen, each to his own silence, before we could stand and clap.