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Savion Glover

Tap dancer, choreographer and actor Savion Glover was born on November 19, 1973 in Newark, New Jersey. Glover began taking in music classes at Newark Community School of the Arts at four years old. He soon progressed to advanced classes, becoming the youngest student in the school’s history to receive a full scholarship. At the age of seven, Glover enrolled in tap dance classes, and was soon opening at festivals with such greats as Jimmy Slyde, Chuck Green, Honi Coles, and Buster Brown. In 1991, Glover graduated from Newark’s Arts High School.

Glover appeared on Broadway for the first time at ten years old in The Tap Dance Kid. He was featured in the title role when the production moved to the Minskoff Theater in 1984. From 1988 to 1989, Glover danced in Black and Blue, a Broadway musical revue of black Parisian culture in the interwar period. His performance earned him a Tony Award nomination for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical, and he was dubbed a “teen-age prodigy” by The New York Times’ dance critic Anna Kisselgoff. In 1989, Glover made his film debut dancing in Tap, alongside Gregory Hines. The following year, at the age of seventeen, Glover made his choreographic debut at the Apollo Theater’s Rat-A-Tat-Tap Festival in New York City, and began dancing on Sesame Street. Upon his graduation from Newark’s Arts High School, Glover portrayed the young Jelly Roll Morton, appearing again with Gregory Hines, in George C. Wolfe’s Jelly’s Last Jam. In 1996, Glover rejoined Wolfe to conceive, choreograph and star in Bring in da Noise, Bring in da Funk, a Broadway musical revue of black history. Glover returned to film in 2000 to portray the tap-dancing minstrel Manray/Mantan in Spike Lee’s satire, Bamboozled. He also appeared in the television biopic Bojangles (2001), Classical Savion at New York City’s Joyce Theater, and provided the choreography for the tap-dancing penguin Mumble in the animated movie Happy Feet (2006). Glover opened his tap school, The HooFeRzCLuB School for TaP, in Newark in 2009. He continued performing pieces such as SoLe Sanctuary (2011) and Om (2014) at the Joyce Theater, until reuniting with director George C. Wolfe as choreographer of the 2016 musical Shuffle Along, or, the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed.

In 1992, Glover became the youngest recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts grant. Glover was nominated for several Tony Awards for Bring in da Noise, Bring in da Funk, winning the Best Choreography Award, in addition to a Drama Desk Award.

Savion Glover was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 30, 2016.

Accession Number

A2016.090

Sex

Male

Interview Date

11/30/2016

Last Name

Glover

Maker Category
Organizations
Schools

Arts High School

BRICK Avon Academy

Queen of Angels School

Professional Children's School

Jose Feliciano Performing Arts School

First Name

Savion

Birth City, State, Country

Newark

HM ID

GLO03

Favorite Season

All Seasons

State

New Jersey

Favorite Vacation Destination

Jamaica, Anywhere Tropical, Paris

Favorite Quote

What Did He Do?

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

11/19/1973

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Macaroni And Cheese

Short Description

Tap dancer, choreographer, and actor Savion Glover (1973 - ) first appeared on Broadway at ten years old, and went on to choreograph and star in Jelly’s Last Jam (1991), Bring in da Noise, Bring in da Funk (1996), and Shuffle Along (2016).

Employment

The Tap Dance Kid

Black and Blue

Tap

Apollo Theater

Sesame Street

Various

Not Your Ordinary Tappers

HooFeRzCLuB School for a Holistic Approach to Tap

'Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in 'da Funk'

'Jelly's Last Jam'

Favorite Color

Blue

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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Savion Glover's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Savion Glover lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Savion Glover talks about his mother's singing career

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Savion Glover describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Savion Glover talks about his maternal great-grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Savion Glover describes his father's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Savion Glover describes his father's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Savion Glover describes his maternal grandmother's musical career

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Savion Glover talks about his maternal grandmother

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Savion Glover reflects upon his lack of a father figure

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Savion Glover describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Savion Glover describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Savion Glover describes his schooling in Newark, New Jersey

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Savion Glover recalls the start of his tap training

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Savion Glover remembers his early tap lessons at the Hines-Hatchett dance studio in New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Savion Glover recalls his audition for 'The Tap Dance Kid'

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Savion Glover describes his experiences on Broadway in 'The Tap Dance Kid'

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Savion Glover describes his experiences at the Profession Children's School in New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Savion Glover remembers auditioning for shows in New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Savion Glover talks about the impact of his early celebrity

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Savion Glover remembers performing in 'Black and Blue' in Paris, France, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Savion Glover remembers performing in 'Black and Blue' in Paris, France, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Savion Glover recalls the development of his technique during the production of 'Black and Blue'

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Savion Glover talks about the influence of his tap dance predecessors

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Savion Glover describes the evolution of his tap style

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Savion Glover reflects upon the influence of his 'Black and Blue' cast members

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Savion Glover talks about his time in Paris, France

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Savion Glover remembers being cast in 'Tap'

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Savion Glover describes the film, 'Tap'

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Savion Glover remembers Sammy Davis, Jr.

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Savion Glover describes his start as a choreographer and teacher

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Savion Glover remembers the death of Hassoun Tatum

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Savion Glover remembers his guest appearances on 'Sesame Street'

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Savion Glover remembers performing in 'Jelly's Last Jam'

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Savion Glover reflects upon his experiences in 'Jelly's Last Jam'

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Savion Glover reflects upon the influence of his teachers and mentors

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$4

DAStory

9$1

DATitle
Savion Glover talks about his maternal grandmother
Savion Glover reflects upon the influence of his 'Black and Blue' cast members
Transcript
My [maternal] grandmother [Anna Lundy Lewis] had a house on Farley Avenue [Newark, New Jersey], around the corner from Barr [Annie Barr (ph.)]. So we lived--and so when, when, so first we grew up on Rose Terrace in the, in the apartment, in the same house as Barr and Poppel [George Barr (ph.)]. We grew, we, we lived on the first floor, Barr and Poppel were on the second floor, and all, everybody happened on the second floor and the third floor. So then once we moved from there we moved maybe ten blocks down the hill to Livingston Street. My grandmother still had a room in the house, my mother [Yvette Glover] would, so my mother would have to be on the couch to accommodate my grandmother. To this day I don't understand that concept but that's what it is. And that carried on when we moved down the hill to Livingston Street. We were, it was a townhouse, you know, the first townhouses which were not, you know, it was, they were projects, people brought these things in on the truck and boom, boom, boom. We had three rooms upstairs, myself, my two older brothers, my mother, my grandmother. And then another friend of the family or aunt, Aunt Arlene [Arlene Graham (ph.)], and her child. We all lived in this unit, three bedrooms (laughter). My mother would, again, give my grandmother the largest room in the townhouse. I shared a room with Abron [Abron Glover] and then I shared a room with Carlton [Carlton Glover] and then I slept with--my mother shared the room with Carlton, she just slept in there. I slept with my mother in that bed or I would sleep on some clothes in Abron's (laughter) bed. And I'm saying all this to say meanwhile, my grandmother had a house on Farley Avenue.$$Where she didn't stay?$$It was for her hats. My grandmother had a house (laughter), my grandmother had a house--$$(Laughter).$$--full of hats, Harriette [HistoryMaker Harriette Cole].$$(Laughter).$$Excuse me.$$For her church--$$Yes.$$--church, the church hats; right (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) Yes.$$Performance hats?$$Her hats, I mean, it was a home. You walk in the home and there were just boxes. She paid rent for her hats (laughter). And would, and would stay with us though. I--we, we'd get evicted, we couldn't pay the bill, the, they would cut off the lights or lock us out, we'd come home from vacation, we'd pull up, all of us, me and my brothers, Aunt Arlene, my, my mother, her child, six of us pull up in a Nova [Chevrolet Nova], my grandmother would be on the porch with the dog, "Nana, what's, what's up?" "Well, they locked us out." Meanwhile she has a home (laughter) and I mean she has money too, my grandmother's best friend was Doris Duke.$$(Laughter).$$So at any given time, (laughter) you know, she had about five thousand dollars in the attache case, easily. She'd be sitting on that porch--$$(Laughter).$$--with the dog saying, "You know, praise all mighty God, they locked us out. We didn't have no lights, Mr. Williams [ph.] came," and boom, boom, boom. "Told me to get out, I have to get out." She could have bought the whole town, all twenty of the townhouses (laughter), she could have went to her home, she could have gotten a hotel, she could have called Doris Duke to send a helicopter for her (laughter), but she chose to, and this was, this would happen, you know, if the lights would go out, we couldn't, you know, my grandmother would not budge.$Back to these men for a moment.$$Um-hm.$$You are working with them during your formative years. You're--$$Right.$$--you're a teenager, growing up (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Everything I, after 'Tap Dance Kid' ['The Tap Dance Kid,' Charles Blackwell], everything I did was with them.$$So even though you didn't have your father [Willie Mitchell] in your life you now have these men?$$(Nods head).$$And they're also teaching you how to be a man?$$Everything. Everything. These men became everything to me. God is, (laughter) these men became everything to me. They became my fathers, they became my grandfathers, they became my brothers, they became my friends, my mentors, my teachers, they became everything to me. (Pause) I cannot, aside from my mother [Yvette Glover], I am not what I am if they are not in my life. If Jimmy Slyde, if I don't know a Jimmy Slyde, (sighs) if I don't, if I don't know a Lon Chaney or a Bunny Briggs or a George Hillman, I don't know what I would do, what I would be, where I would be. They became everything for me. George Hillman was the first to pass along, to transition. And again, that is when, I met George Hillman, he was eighty-one (laughter). I think he died like maybe, maybe he passed when he was like ninety-two or something like that, ninety-five, I'm, I'm not sure. But his passing it affected me. It was like a, like a wakeup call, it was like--it, it, his passing allowed me to realize how much I loved these men.$$And did you stay in touch with them after you were no longer working with them?$$Oh, yeah.$$Um-hm. They, they became your family?$$Oh, yes--$$Um-hm.$$--without a doubt.

Jeni LeGon

Dancer, actress, and dance instructor Jeni LeGon was born Jennie Ligon on August 14, 1916, in Chicago, Illinois. Later, in London, she learned that she was descended from General Henry Beauchamp Lygon, the 4th Earl of Beauchamp, through her father, Hector Ligon, a "Geechie" from the Georgia Sea Islands. LeGon grew up with her older sister Mary Belle in Chicago's overcrowded Black Belt. Practicing and performing with other children, LeGon received her first formal training from Mary Bruce's School of Dance. She often skipped school to learn new dance routines from the movies, and she graduated from Sexton Elementary School in 1928. In 1930, at age thirteen, she successfully auditioned for the Count Basie Orchestra's chorus line. Leaving Englewood High School a year later, LeGon was already a cutting edge professional dancer with a repertoire of knee drops, flips, slides, mule kicks, and flying splits, which she performed wearing pants.

In 1931, LeGon became a member of the family oriented Whitman Sisters troupe, which traveled the South. With her half sister, Willa Mae Lane, she formed the LeGon and Lane tap duo in 1933. In 1935 Hollywood, Earl Dancer, the former manager of Ethel Waters, discovered LeGon. Dancer helped LeGon to be the first black woman to sign an extended contract from MGM, though it was shortly cancelled. In her first screen role, LeGon danced with Bill "Bojangles" Robinson (the only black woman to do so on screen) in Hooray for Love, which also featured Fats Waller.

Her twenty-four film credits include: Broadway Melody of 1936, This Was Paris, (1937), Start Cheering, Fools for Scandal (1938), I Can't Give You Anything But Love (1940), Birth of the Blues, Sundown, Arabian Nights (1941), While Thousands Cheered, Stormy Weather (1943), Hi De Ho (1945), Easter Parade (1948), I Shot Jesse James (1949) and Somebody Loves Me (1952).

LeGon married composer Phil Moore in 1943 and they co wrote "The Sping" which Lena Horne sang in Panama Hattie. She also starred in Fats Waller's Broadway musical, Early to Bed and took African dance lessons from Katherine Dunham that same year. In 1953, LeGon appeared with Dorothy Dandridge and Harry Belafonte as a teacher in Bright Road. Her next U. S. film role would not come until Snoop Dogg's 2001 film, Bones. In the 1950's LeGon founded a school of dance and appeared in television's Amos and Andy. By the 60's she toured with Jazz Caribe. In 1969, LeGon settled in Vancouver, British Columbia teaching tap, point and Dunham technique. In the 1970s, LeGon worked with Troupe One, a youth theatre group and traveled to London with the Pelican Players in the 80s.

The Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame and the National Congress of Black Women have honored LeGon. In 2002, Oklahoma City University conferred upon her a doctorate of performing arts in American Dance. In 1999, the National Film Board of Canada released Grant Greshuk's prize-winning documentary, Jeni LeGon: Living in a Great Big Way.

Jeni Legon passed away on December 7, 2012.

Accession Number

A2004.113

Sex

Female

Interview Date

7/28/2004

Last Name

LeGon

Maker Category
Organizations
Schools

Englewood High School

Austin O. Sexton Elementary School

First Name

Jeni

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

LEG01

Favorite Season

August

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

Everyday you live and learn.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

British Columbia

Birth Date

8/14/1916

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Vancouver

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Ice Cream (Vanilla)

Death Date

12/7/2012

Short Description

Film actress and tap dancer Jeni LeGon (1916 - 2012 ) started her career in Count Basie Orchestra's chorus line. In her first screen role, LeGon danced with Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, the only black woman to do so on screen, in "Hooray for Love." In the 1950's, LeGon founded a school of dance, and by the 1960's, she toured with Jazz Caribe. Her twenty-four film credits include, "Broadway Melody," "This Was Paris," and "Start Cheering, Fools for Scandal."

Employment

Whitman Sisters Troupe

Legon and Lane Tap Duo

Jazz Caribe

Troupe One

Pelican Players

Favorite Color

Red

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Jeni LeGon interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Jeni LeGon's favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Jeni LeGon describes her mother's background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Jeni LeGon describes her father's background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Jeni LeGon remembers her mother

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Jeni LeGon remembers her grandmother and great-grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Jeni LeGon remembers her father

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Jeni LeGon recalls her introduction to show business

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Jeni LeGon discusses her siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Jeni LeGon recalls performances from her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Jeni LeGon remembers early performances with her family

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Jeni LeGon discusses social life in her childhood community, Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Jeni LeGon recalls her early school life

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Jeni LeGon details her early interest in the performing arts

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Jeni LeGon remembers her sister-in-law

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Jeni LeGon discusses her beginnings as a professional dancer

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Jeni LeGon recounts her performances with the Whitman Sisters

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Jeni LeGon discusses the end of her performances with the Whitman Sisters

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Jeni LeGon recounts the beginning of her film career

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Jeni LeGon remembers her performances on Broadway and in London, England

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Jeni LeGon gives an overview of her career as a performer

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Jeni LeGon remembers dancer Bill 'Bojangles' Robinson

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Jeni LeGon recalls her collaborations with Fats Waller

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Jeni LeGon recalls her roles in 'Stormy Weather' and 'Dishonor Bright'

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Jeni LeGon discusses her musical collaboration with ex-husband Phil Moore

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Jeni LeGon recounts her encounters with influential dancers

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Jeni LeGon recalls encountering racial discrimination in Hollywood

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Jeni LeGon describes limited social interactions in Hollywood

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Jeni LeGon remembers the cast of 'Amos 'n Andy'

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Jeni LeGon discusses race and performance

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Jeni LeGon remembers pioneer entertainers

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Jeni LeGon reflects on current film and television projects

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Jeni LeGon discusses cultural influences in her performances

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Jeni LeGon discusses racism in the dance world

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Jeni LeGon remembers her favorite dancers

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Jeni LeGon discusses settling in Vancouver, British Columbia

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Jeni LeGon shares her impersonations

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Jeni LeGon describes her entertainment pursuits in Vancouver, British Columbia

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Jeni LeGon considers her retirement options

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Jeni LeGon shares her observations of African American communities

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Jeni LeGon reflects on the course of her career

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Jeni LeGon remembers her mother and sister

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Jeni LeGon considers her legacy