There was an error in this gadget

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Amazing comes in many forms

Sometimes universities host programs, lectures, conferences, and other free stuffs that are spectacular and, when even more extraordinary, free.

Last night I was able to watch two hours of virtuosic tap dancing for absolutely no cost.

Savion Glover (pictured left), Marshall Davis, Jr., and Maurice Chestnut performed "Bare Soundz," a two-hour tap blitz that was designed to create music in its execution rather than to be performed to music. These three gentlemen used their feet. For hours. At unimaginable speeds. And they sounded like drums. Drums big, drums small, drums metal, drums canvas, drumsticks. As well as: an idling engine, a revving engine, a helicopter, and jazz. Yep, they were all in there. And yes, it was fantastic!

I first became familiar with Savion Glover during his stint on Sesame Street. He is, in my memory, Elmo's first friend. Elmo and Gina and Savion all seemed to hang out. I was dubious of Gina, as I was a Maria loyalist, especially when it was someone was eating sandwiches in Mr. Hooper's store, and Elmo was never my favorite. Sure, could this be a by-product of my not being 2 years old? Yes. But who refers to themselves in the third person like that and isn't annoying? And why was he always so upbeat? Grover, Oscar, Big Bird, Snuffy - these characters were nuanced in their emotional range. Sometimes they all needed hugs. Oscar is, by name, a grouch. Elmo just likes hugs. Sure, this could also be a carry over from my loyalty to the Sesame Street of my childhood. Elmo was not on my Sesame Street. Maybe I don't like change (I hate change), but I sort of don't like Elmo (please don't tell my niece). Now Elmo's friend Savion, on the other hand, that guy seemed cool. He danced! And how.

Glover, Davis, and Chestnut, in addition to dancing for what seemed like four hours, not two, also moved their feet at the speed of hummingbirds' wings. My eye literally could not catch the movements between front, back, side and side. It was, in addition to very entertaining, awe-inspiring. WHAT THE?! That was my reaction. Head shaking, disbelieving - What the?!?! Because how do you learn to make your feet move that quickly that often that many times in a row without your feet snapping off at the joint? How many hours a day do you practice? And how do you ever get them to rest, especially if they are trained to follow and revel in, a beat?

I am a sucker for watching people do things really, really well in ways I cannot dream of doing. The Olympics, for example, is of such interest (I believe the first entry of this Lent explains) because I cannot fathom doing what the athletes are doing. Ever. With the body I have. On this Earth, with its current gravitational restrictions. Bare Soundz was the same situation. I was spell-bound and in awe. How can you do that? How can you move like that? How can you be that good?

My friend Krista and I both thought that Savion Glover's posture was downright puppet-like. He held is arms jauntily aloft at both sides but limp, as if they were held up by strings waiting to be moved by a puppet-master.

Do I believe his arms were thoroughly engaged in the dancing he was doing? Yes.
Do I have any clue how the physiology of his movements worked to make it possible? No. But I'm so far from having any idea that I'm even more impressed.
The other thing that was both captivating and confusing was that the dancers really appeared to have scrawny, wiry legs. Where was the power center? What was being used most? Like speedskaters have quads that are the size of medium-sized dogs, so too do most elite athletes have very telling physiques depending on which muscles they use most and develop well beyond the average Joe wearing spandex. But the tap dancers seemed to be all sinew. Perhaps that is part of what it takes? Being mostly muscle fiber, but not too much of it?

Whatever made him go-go-go, Savion Glover and friends (Maurice and Marshall - not Gina and Elmo) were absolutely mind-boggling in their tap abilities. Quite a feat by quite some feet.

No comments:

Post a Comment