The Santa Barbara community welcomed a highly anticipated guest artist as tap dancing sensation Savion Glover performed in front of a sold-out crowd at the Lobero Theatre on Sunday night.
Hailed by many critics as the greatest tap dancer alive, Glover performed Sunday night with a four-member band – saxophonist, trumpetist and flutist Patience Higgins, drummer Brian Grice, bassist Gregory Jones and pianist George Caldwell. The performance, co-presented by the Lobero Theatre and UCSB Arts & Lectures as part of the ArtAbounds performance series, lasted roughly an hour and 40 minutes with no intermission. Glover danced nearly the entire run, pausing only briefly between sets.
The performance opened with Glover, microphone in hand, tapping to his own vocals as he and the band performed their rendition of “The Way You Look Tonight.” Dressed in a white Michael Jordan T-shirt adorned with the number “23” underneath an open black button-down shirt and black pants, Glover danced continuously, occasionally picking up the microphone again and accompanying his tap rhythms with vocalization.
Halfway through the show, Glover let 14-year-old dancer Cartier Williams, who wore a matching Michael Jordan T-shirt, take the stage for a quick solo. Glover then paused to introduce his musicians and address the audience.
“This is what we do. We just get together and jam – for you,” Glover said.
A regular performer with Glover, Williams said he enjoyed performing in Santa Barbara.
“It was fun and exciting,” Williams said. “The crowd was good – nice and happy. It was just energy. It was a nice crowd.”
After another 45 minutes of dancing that included a rendition of The Sound Of Music’s “My Favorite Things,” the audience met Glover with two standing ovations.
After the performance, Glover said that although he and his band sometimes set the night’s songs beforehand, his dancing had not been choreographed. “It’s all improvisation,” he said. “Every show is different.”
Higgins said he enjoyed the night’s audience.
“The audience is like another member of the band. They can either come along for the ride, or they can resist the ride,” he said. “If they come along, then it makes it much more enjoyable for us, and I felt that they were definitely coming along.”
After working with Glover in his concerts for about eight years, Higgins said the two artists had bonded in a special way.
“There’s a definite connection – more than just musical. There’s a heavy spiritual connection [as well],” Higgins said.
Glover said he felt good about the night’s performance.
“Tonight’s performance was great,” he said. “The audience was very alive, nice, receptive – it was great.”
Higgins said that he also thought the performance went well.
“I thought it was fabulous,” Higgins said. “I think that everything Savion does is fabulous.”
Many members of the audience had positive things to say about the Tony Award-winning tap dancer’s Sunday performance.
“I thought it was absolutely amazing and awe-inspiring,” sophomore dance major and tap dance enthusiast Marcelin Jurbina said. “Savion Glover is the most phenomenal tap dancer that I have ever seen and probably one of the best tap dancers there ever will be. His technique is flawless. His rhythms and his syncopation and melodic movements are just incredible. He’s amazing.”
Sophomore English major Dawson Ludwig said that after he had missed Glover’s performance in Los Angeles, he made seeing Glover in Santa Barbara a priority.
“I thought it was basically the best thing I’ve ever paid for in my life. This was way out of my budget, but it was way worth it,” he said.
Glover will be holding a master class for advanced tap dancers tonight at 7 at the Marjorie Luke Theatre in downtown Santa Barbara. The class costs $15 for the general public and is free for students in kindergarten through 12th grade with a valid identification. For more information, call (805) 966-6950.