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Savion: My Life in Tap

by Savion Glover
Illustrated by Paula Kelly (Designer)

Published by Morrow / HarperCollins, 2000
80 pages
ISBN: 0-688-15629-0

Ages 10 - 16

Several years ago a young man known as Savion began to appear on the TV program Sesame Street to show "the joys of tap" to Elmo and Big Bird. At age 18 he was already beginning to establish himself as one of the greats in the field of tap dancing. He had appeared on Broadway at the age of 12 in the title role of The Tap Dance Kid. He followed his Tony-nominated performance in Black and Blue when he was 21 by co-starring with Gregory Hines in Jelly's Last Jam. Five years after that Savion won a Tony Award for his dancing and choreography in Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in 'da Funk, a dynamic, unflinching production paying tribute to the history of tap and - at the same time - to the African American experience. He's danced at the Kennedy Center, appeared in films and TV ads, and in general become a highly visible, incomparable presence. Can a book even contain this unique genius? In parallel narratives, Glover and Murphy succeed in conveying the incredible tap dance career and philosophy of the person who has taken it all to a new level, who hits harder and lower than anyone else, and who respects his forebears by dancing their stories while he dances his own. Their collaborative effort might well be the one of the most excitingly designed, handsome, visually appealing volumes of the year. Paula Kelly's design surprises us by using black, red, and white and by varying font size and placement. Abundant photos, including close-ups and images cropped at unexpected angles, suggest the electricity and energy of Savion as he taps. Murphy: "He's a baby face with a beard, a pucker-mouthed boy-man, dressed ordinarily in baggy unmatched clothing, shoes perennially untied, head like young coral. Gangly, lithe, and athletic, he has bunched muscles in his calves, and long, beveled ankles... a young man with the future of an art form at his feet." Glover: "I'm really an improv artist most of all... People ask me, 'Aren't you afraid you're going to run out of rhythms, run out of sounds?' No way. They're everywhere, all the time. That's why I have so much dancing to do... Whatever you do, dancing or whatever, you got to hit. Don't sleep on it. Just hit. Because for me, dancing is like life. The lessons of one are the lessons of the other." (GMK; Sept 4) 2000 Cooperative Children's Book Center

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