Savion Glover has been a cast member on Sesame Street, was a Tony Award nominee at age 15 for the Broadway show Black and Blue, won a Tony at 22 for choreographing the hit show Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in 'da Funk and has danced with the likes of Sammy Davis Jr. But his most broadly memorable role might be providing the dance moves for the penguin Mumbles in the Happy Feet films.
This weekend, Glover and an ensemble of fellow tap dancers will perform in a show called STePz at the University of Kentucky Singletary Center for the Arts.
Choreographed by Glover, STePz is a high-energy, foot-stomping concert that features one of tap dancing's most iconic images: dancing on stairs.
"One of the highlights of this performance is we reintroduce staircases," Glover says. "Myself and my good friend Marshall Davis, we pay tribute to those who have introduced that to us."
Glover is referring to such famous tap dancers as Bojangles, James Cagney and the Nicholas Brothers, whose elaborate staircase dances were included in a spate of 20th-century films.
When selecting music for the show, Glover turned to singers including Stevie Wonder and John Coltrane.
"The music was music that I'd been listening to for years," says Glover, who turns 40 on Tuesday.
While Glover choreographed STePz, his process is collaborative.
"I'm best when everyone is in the room together," he says. "We basically all get in a room and work it out. I have a certain vision or certain picture, but I can't paint that picture without the dancers."
When Glover is not touring or doing films, he operates HooFeRzCLuB School for Tap in Newark, N.J.
"I consider it safe grounds," Glover says. "Our approach to teaching is not what your average tap class would be. We are more about getting into the mind, allowing the students to identify with the process and then express themselves."
IF YOU GO
Savion Glover's 'STePz'
When: 7:30 p.m. Nov. 16
Where: UK Singletary Center for the Arts, 405 Rose St.
Tickets: $30-$40. Available at (859) 257-4929 or Singletarycenter.com.