Eugene Weekly : Oregon Bach festival : 6.18.2009


Oregon Bach Festival Guide 2009:

Sing It, Dance It, See It Music, art and dance in World Harmony

Marking Time at the Laundromat Pencils, notes and the life of an OBF chorus member

Seriously ‘Unserious’ Bach Remix gets remixed at The District

Tap Into Classical Spirit Savion Glover dances into the Hult  

OBF2009 Oregon Bach Festival sked & highlights!


Tap Into Classical Spirit
Savion Glover dances into the Hult  
by Suzi Steffen

Photo by Len Irish

Did you grow up with Savion, the young dancer of Sesame Street who brought the surrounding Muppets a degree of embodied fun no furry marionette could ever experience? Maybe you missed him there, but you saw 1989’s Tap, a thinly plotted piece that gave Gregory Hines, Sammy Davis Jr. and Savion Glover himself a chance to show off their moves. And it’s just possible that you avoided Savionmania until 2006’s Happy Feet, for which he was both choreographer and dance model for the penguin Mumble.

But your time for avoidance is over. The 2009 Oregon Bach Festival is filled with surprises and tasty treats, mixing contemporary music with music from the time of Shakespeare, art and music, ballet and theater, drumming and dancing — and Savion Glover performing “Classical Savion” might just be one of the tastiest.

Certainly it’s a show that should attract families, as it was meant to do. “Each year,” says OBF Executive Director John Evans, “I want to have a good, strong family concert.” With Glover’s flying feet and beautifully limber lines, with his intelligent choreography (which has won him Tonys for various Broadway shows) and his ability to make the kind of noises most kids find tremendously appealing, he’s got the chance to inject the kind of kinetic energy the Bach Festival rarely gets to see. 

One of the festival’s themes this year is “the spirit of the dance,” and Evans notes that the schedule gives all kind of space for various genres. There’s the Eugene Ballet Company’s collaboration with the OBF and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in a narrated, fully staged version of Mendelssohn’s Midsummer Night’s Dream (another kid favorite, though perhaps less kid-friendly than Glover’s routine). Metropolitan Opera diva Frederica von Stade and the OBF orchestra cover some dance material in von Stade’s solo concert, and see our piece on the World Harmony Project (p. 2) for more dance-related OBF moments. 

But Glover has everything going for him in terms of audience appeal. “The music is performed by live musicians,” Evans said, which makes the dance performance more immediate and lively than those set to recorded, tinny music. But Glover has several routines, and the fact that this one’s called “Classical Savion” was the bit that sealed the deal for Evans. “This is a really good introduction to core classical music,” Evans says. The program includes pieces by Vivaldi, Mozart, Shostakovich, Mendelssohn and, of course, Bach. Well-known classical pieces like Vivaldi’s Four Seasons transform under the heels, and toes, of Glover. Evans wants the audience to have a chance to “discover classical music through a different art form,” he says, and through different senses.

“There’s a lot this year that’s visually capivating about the Festival,” Evans says, and he believe Glover is a key part of that visual attraction as the dancer jumps, spins and generally hoofs it across the stage at the Hult Center. “It helps develop audiences of all ages,” Evans says, “if you can entice the senses.”

Tickets for the July 10 Glover concert start at $15 and go up to $58, but there’s also the youth-oriented July 9 Savion on Tap for $5 and the free Tap Jam at noon on July 9 in The Studio on the lowest floor of the Hult Center. Participants are encouraged to bring tap shoes to the jam, where they can pretend to be penguins -— or simply let loose the spirit of their own creativity.