Savion Glover — tap dancer and choreographer — is aging magnificently.
Ten years ago when he was 29, he brought his Tony Award-winning “Bring in ’Da Noise, Bring in ’Da Funk” to the Orpheum. It was a bravura performance of dance and storytelling.
Friday night, Glover brought his production of “SoLe Sanctuary” to the Germantown Performing Arts Centre and presented a very different but equally extraordinary and demanding work.
For two hours — with minimal breaks — Glover and his fellow hoofer Marshall Davis Jr. revealed how dancers become instrumentalists. The series of pieces did not quite constitute abstract dance, as Glover characterizes “SoLe Sanctuary” as a tribute to the great tap artists of the past and the movements are suffused with those influences. But however much these historic talents inform the works, it remains largely non-representational, with no dramatic gestures or evident storyline.
The result was rich and pure, a mature exposition of virtuosity, grace and rhythm.
It was also a work of spirit and simplicity, even though all the complex patterns. Glover and Davis each had a raised platform on the stage and did all their movements in a limited space — essentially in place. It was all leg- and footwork, with their upper bodies and arms essentially maintaining balance.
The stage set had a spiritual sensibility, with images of past tap greats hanging above the performers, candles in the background, and an unidentified man off to one side, meditating silently from beginning to end, only occasionally changing position.
But that spare setting helped to focus on the movements and rhythms that played out for the two hours — solo excursions and call-and-response duets invoking a Zen funk throughout.
Also astonishing were the tonal variations the dancers conjured, making for a sophisticated range of percussive effects, all done with the feet. Praise indeed from masters of the art to their forebears.