Savion Glover and Ailey II dance company inspire local students

Friday, February 20, 2015

9:56 AM, Feb 19, 2015

The group of Port Salerno Elementary School students may not realize they are getting a dance lesson from the greatest tap dancer in the world but that won’t lessen the impact of the experience.

Dancer and choreographer Savion Glover will teach a master class before his Tuesday evening performance at The Lyric Theatre in Stuart. Glover’s funky style of tap has brought the art form back from the brink of extinction. The dance prodigy, who made his Broadway debut at age 12 in “The Tap Dance Kid,” has performed at “The Academy Awards,” “The Tony Awards,” “The Grammy Awards” and presidential inaugurals. He starred and choreographed “Bring in ‘da Noise, Bring in ‘da Funk,” for which he won the Tony Award for Best Choreography.

Glover has been teaching for most of his career and founded the Hooferzclub School for Tap in his hometown of Newark, New Jersey. While on tour, he provides lessons to local students.

Glover is not the only visiting artist to reach out to Martin County students. Earlier this month, members of the ballet company Ailey II, an off shoot of the esteemed Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, also conducted a master class at the Port Salerno school which has a high population of low-income students.

Both Glover and the Ailey dancers connected with the students through The Lyric Theatre’s Arts & Education program. This season’s program was funded by Eli’s House, Inc., a Port Salerno based nonprofit founded in 2014.

“It’s a magical interaction,” said Eli’s House co-founder Ellen Blum. “At these classes, there’s the idea that anything is possible.”

Lyric’s Arts & Education program also provides the students and their families tickets to select performances.

Jazz musician Nestor Torres has taught several classes at various Martin County schools since the program’s inception in 2010.

“It’s a component I want to develop a lot more,” said John Loesser, executive director of The Lyric Theatre. “I need to raise another $60,000 to $100,000.”

On Feb. 10, about 40 Port Salerno students selected for their good behavior, were treated to the 90- minute class with six dancers from the Ailey II company. They taught the students the importance of stretching, a few ballet moves and how to feel the music. They also shared their inspiring, personal stories of international travel and relatable experiences of stage fright.

Ballet dancer, David Adrian Freeland Jr., in his second year with the renown company, told students he became a professional dancer thanks to his fifth grade Spanish teacher, who ignited his passion for dance with a salsa lesson.

“Now it’s time for me to inspire someone else,” Freeland Jr. said.