Mr. Happy Feet himself - Savion Glover - brings his virtuoso brand of tap to Maryland this weekend for three performances as part of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's Symphony With a Twist.
The orchestra will play solo for the first half of the program. After intermission, Glover will bring his size 12 1/2 shoes and flying dreads to four songs, varying in style from Latin to big band to Afro-Caribbean, and finally, to a Duke Ellington selection that fuses jazz and classical themes.
You'll be dancing to quite an eclectic program.
I approach these songs like a jazz musician, and improvise over the music. My style of tap is more visual than musical, though of course the audience is also there to see. Jimmy Slyde [the former tap master known as the King of Slides] taught me to push for being recognized by the sounds I make. He always wanted to close his eyes and put on headphones, and to "hear" the dance.
What's it like dancing to an orchestra conducted by Marin Alsop?
We've performed together once before, and she's very cool, very nice. There's a wide area of trust between us.
You danced at Barack Obama's inauguration at the Maryland ball.
It was a wonderful event, and I was honored and thrilled to be part of it. There was a lot of energy in the room, and it was very much alive.
You've said that you tap in stereo instead of mono. What does that mean?
Well, the difference between hearing Tommy Tune tap and Jimmy Slyde tap is like the difference between mono and stereo. If I'm tapping in stereo, let's say that my left foot is the bass and my right foot is the tom tom. When you use your feet to play different parts of the music, the audience hears more nuances.
Do you constantly hear rhythms even when you're not dancing and just going about your daily life?
Yes, all the time. Every noise has a vibration and sparks a particular kind of energy. Through the influence of John Coltrane, Miles Davis and the other greats, I find myself recognizing rhythms in our heartbeats, in our breathing, in our language.
You're 35, and your body is your instrument. How is it holding up?
[Laughs.] So far, it's holding. Every now and then, it just reminds me that I'm not 19 anymore.
Mary Carole McCauley
if you go
Savion Glover performs with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra at 8 p.m. tomorrow at Strathmore Hall in North Bethesda and 8 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, 1212 Cathedral St. Tickets are $25-$80. Call 410-783-8000 or go to bsomusic.org.