Dance on YouTube: 5-year anniversary of the treadmill dance

Happy anniversary!! That’s right: 5 years ago this month the band OK Go released their huge hit music video for the song Here It Goes Again. And if you were somehow hibernating at that time and missed out on the hullaballoo, it is literally a choreographed routine with treadmills performed by the band members. And it is brilliant.

My first post highlighting online dance videos featured OK Go’s first ever zany dance music video, A Million Ways – the silly backyard dance that started it all. One year later, OK Go majorly upped the ante with Here It Goes Again. In just 6 days, over one million people had watched the video. One million! Which is even more impressive when you consider this was back in 2006, when YouTube was still young and before we even knew what Twitter was. To date, the video has accrued over 50 million views. It also received the 2007 Grammy award for Best Short Form Music Video as well as the 2006 YouTube award for Most Creative Video.

Personally, I loved the video from the first time I saw it, blown away by the musicality, precision, and creative use of treadmills. But I also remember it fondly because it was used by a college professor of mine for our Dance History final exam. She played the video for us then gave us a prompt to write about, which I believe  had something to do with discussing dance in pop culture. I also believe I was quite impressed that my professor was so in-tune to current technological trends. In any case, I want to send a special shout out to my professor as well as, of course, the members of OK Go and the choreographer for both routines, Trish Sie (the lead singer’s sister). And I would be remiss to not also alert your attention to the stellar song that the treadmill dance is done to, advising you to check out the band’s website for even more stellar songs.

Lastly, although it’s not a dance video really, you should also check out OK Go’s video for This Too Shall Pass, the Rube Goldberg Machine version (as shown below). It’s impressive in a completely different, high-level engineering sort of way. Just insane:

Update: check out my third and follow-up post on OK Go dance videos here

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What happens when dance and theater nerds join forces

This entire blog post goes under the heading “better late than never.” That’s because I’m finally getting around to writing about the Congress on Research in Dance (CORD) conference that I went to last November in Seattle. Yep, that’s right, over 7 months ago. But it’s all good, because I took copious notes. So here goes.

Straight to it: the conference was great. There were many informative presentations of quality research done by individuals in the academic sector. Since it was a joint conference of CORD and the American Society for Theatre Research (ASTR), we got to hear about topics relating to both fields – dance and theater – and also about points of intersection between them. To be honest, not all of them were interesting (to me) and sometimes the combination of monotone speakers, fluorescent lighting, and lack of sleep caused me to doze off from time to time. But most of the presentations were well-done and quite relevant, such as discussing documentation strategies for the performing arts and exploring identity in contemporary modern dance.

I also really appreciated the State of the Profession plenary – a panel of academics from mixed backgrounds and interests sharing their views about the present and future of their respective fields. It was great to hear what seasoned scholars considered to be the current issues as well as their opinions on how to move forward. One idea I found particularly interesting came from Praise Zenenga, professor at The University of Arizona, who expressed his desire to unlock the power of the human body, as he believes the “body is a site of interdisciplinary inquiry.” (Such a nerdy arts phrase, but I guess that’s why I like it.)

I was really glad that CORD took a page from the ASTR playbook and welcomed “working sessions” into the mix, Read the full post »

The Margie Gillis interview and my dream ending

If you haven’t seen the Margie Gillis Sun News interview, you may not want to. Because if you actually value the arts, it may be hard to sit through it and not want to punch someone’s face in (especially the interviewer). Posted on June 1st on the Canadian news website, the video shows a rather ferocious interview with contemporary dance artist Margie Gillis. And in the past few days, the video has spread like wildfire among New York City dance circles (perhaps even across the country), striking appropriate outrage in those who view it.

While I truly admire Margie Gillis for keeping her composure through the inteview and bringing up some good points, I feel that she could have had stronger comebacks and better arguments on the importance of dance and art. (Though, the people I know that I imagine providing such responses may have been kicked off the show before getting to them.) Convincing others to value art, especially under such antagonistic circumstances, is not an easy task. But we in dance need to be able to articulate why what we do is important and deserving of respect, appreciation, and support.

If you haven’t seen the video, click on the screen shot below to view it on the Sun News website. Then come back and read my dream ending, what I wish Gillis would have said to the interviewer in a final statement.

My dream response/final comment of Margie Gillis to interviewer Krista Erickson: Read the full post »

Dance on YouTube: OK Go

Dance can be fun. Not that anyone was unaware of this fact. Because of course, along with being poignant and powerful and expressive, dance can also be downright fun. And in that spirit, I’ve decided to do posts every now and then that highlight a YouTube video that features dance in some way. From funny, to weird, to “how in the world are they doing that,” there are oh so many wonderful videos to share and enjoy.

For the first video, I start off with a classic, of sorts. I’m sure many know of OK Go’s more infamous music video with the treadmills (perhaps a follow-up post). Or maybe you’ve seen one of their more recent videos like “This Too Shall Pass” or “End Love.” But I would like to start with the dance that came before them all. The music video for “A Million Ways” was OK Go’s first venture into zany dance routines. It debuted in 2005 and became an internet sensation, becoming the most downloaded music video ever by the following year. It’s so simple – just a silly dance in someone’s backyard. And yet that’s why it’s so brilliant. Who wouldn’t want to watch a group of goofy guys do a choreographed dance routine, complete with jazz hands and slow motion fighting? Without further ado, here’s the OK Go music video/dance that started it all:

They also make pretty great music, which you can check out on their website.

Update: Check out my follow-up posts on OK Go dance videos 2 and 3

A great day for dance: The Dance/NYC Mid-Season Symposium

Photo by Christopher Duggan

There are not many things that I will willingly wake up at 7 AM on a Saturday for. But 2 weekends ago, February 26th, I did just that in order to attend Dance/NYC’s Mid-Season Symposium. Despite being forced to become a coffee-drinker for a day, I am thoroughly glad I took part in this splendid dance event.

Actually, the festivities started the night before with a kick-off party at the Rubin Museum hosted by the Dance/NYC Junior Committee. I’ve always enjoyed breaking the ice with colleagues before delving into professional matters; starting with informal mingling tends to make the later structured exchanges more meaningful and fruitful. And the Junior Committee certainly knew how to start things off right. Catching up with acquaintances and meeting new friends in the field, surrounded by the swanky ambiance of the Chelsea hotspot, was a great way to get everyone engaged and excited for the day ahead. Read the full post »