To Savion Glover, feet are a musical instrument. And, like musical instruments, they can be applied to most any style or genre. Tap dance, for which Glover has been celebrated as a virtuoso since age 10, is generally associated with Broadway show tunes or jazz. But at Staller Center Sunday night, Glover brings tap and flamenco together for "SoLo in TiME."
When "SoLo" premiered two years ago at Manhattan's Joyce Theater, critics were mesmerized from the opening scene, in which a barefoot drummer straddles her legs around an Afro-Peruvian cajón box drum, slapping it with open hands to create the sound of a thunderclap. That's the signal for Glover to enter, tapping to a beat of his own. He's been doing it his way since his title-role debut on Broadway in "The Tap Dance Kid." In 1996, Glover, now 37, became an American household name - in as much as any dancer could be - through his Tony-winning choreography in "Bring in 'Da Noise, Bring in 'Da Funk."
A LITTLE HELP FROM HIS FRIENDS Glover will be joined onstage by longtime hoof collaborator Marshall Davis Jr. and Flamenkina, a quartet made up of percussionist Carmen Estevez, bassist Francesco Beccaro, guitarist Gabriel Hermida and trumpeter Mark Ingraham. The focus on the two dance artists is from the knees down as they tap out rhythms at incomprehensible speed. But this is no Broadway-style extravaganza. The staging is deliberately stripped down - a pair of tap platforms and a smattering of chairs for the musicians. In this largely wordless performance, Glover and Davis explore tap's synergy with the foot-stomping romance of flamenco, accompanied by the instrumental wailing sound of lust and longing associated with that form of dance.
WHY FLAMENCO? "The connection of what I do to flamenco lies in the whole lament, the whole cry," says Glover, "and the pouring back into the Earth and giving energy back. It's a cry and a celebration," he adds. "That's what music, sound, vibration should do. It should spark energy in someone."
It's a passion he's shared onstage throughout his career, especially as a solo artist spreading his devotion to tap. "The dance is the music, and the dancers are the musicians," Glover explains. "The difference is in the imagination of the audience. Pianos, harpsichords, trumpets - every type of instrument is suggested."
Among the tunes Glover riffs on with his feet in "SoLo," accompanied by sit-down musicians, are Chick Corea's "Spain" - home of the flamenco.
WHAT Savion Glover and his HooFeRzCLub perform "SoLo in TiME"
WHEN | WHERE Sunday night at 7 at Staller Center, Stony Brook University
INFO $42; stallercenter .com, 631-632-2787