city.ballet is a video series about the workings of the New York City Ballet. The twelve episodes of season two cover everything from apprentice dancers to injuries to the sacrifices the dancers make to pursue their onstage dreams.
Imagine a city unto itself -- a place where 16 year olds are professionals, 18 year olds are revered and many 30 year olds are retirees. Imagine a world so insular that nearly every one of these virtuosos has trained together in an academy since childhood, their lives forever intertwined by work, play, competition, friendship and love. Imagine a world in which the bottom line standard is to be, simply, the best on the planet, and where each night, an empty stage, in front of thousands, beckons with a challenge. This enclave has a name -- New York City Ballet -- and you are invited into this world, one that has never opened up to the outside before.
Heather Ogden is a principal dancer for the National Ballet of Canada and The Heather Project is a series of short videos shot by Christopher Wahl that shows how beautiful and demanding ballet can be. (via cup of jo)
We all know Michael Jackson invented the moonwalk on-stage during a performance of Billie Jean at the Motown 25th Anniversary show. What this video presupposes is, maybe he didn't?
What the video shows is that as early as the 1930s, performers such as Fred Astaire, Bill Bailey, Cab Calloway, and Sammy Davis Jr. were doing something like the moonwalk. Now, Jackson didn't get the move from any of these sources, not directly anyway. As Jackson's choreographer Jeffrey Daniel explains, he got the moves from The Electric Boogaloos street dance crew and, according to LaToya Jackson, instructed Michael Jackson.
Which is to say, the moonwalk is yet another example of multiple discovery, along with calculus, the discovery of oxygen, and the invention of the telephone. (via open culture)
The act is exactly what it sounds like. Four seated couples maneuver vintage tractors into daisy chains and do-si-dos in front of a live audience. It would be hard to squeeze more nostalgia into a performance that combines made-in-America machines with our "National Folk Dance."
Click through and check out the embedded video...that is some damn fine precision tractor driving.
Karen Cheng learned to dance in a year. Here's a video of her progress, from just a few days in to her final number:
Here's my secret: I practiced everywhere. At bus stops. In line at the grocery store. At work -- Using the mouse with my right hand and practicing drills with my left hand. You don't have to train hardcore for years to become a dancer. But you must be willing to practice and you better be hungry.
This isn't a story about dancing, though. It's about having a dream and not knowing how to get there -- but starting anyway. Maybe you're a musician dreaming of writing an original song. You're an entrepreneur dying to start your first venture. You're an athlete but you just haven't left the chair yet.
The interesting thing is, Cheng basically did the same thing in her professional life as well.
I decided to become a designer, but I had no design skills. I thought about going back to school for design, but the time and money commitment was too big a risk for a career choice I wasn't totally sure of.
So I taught myself -- everyday I would do my day job in record time and rush home to learn design. Super talented people go to RISD for 4 years and learn design properly. I hacked together my piecemeal design education in 6 months -- there was no way I was ready to become a designer. But I was so ready to leave Microsoft. So I started the job search and got rejected a few times. Then I got the job at Exec.
The first few weeks were rough. Everyday I sat in front of my computer trying my damnedest and thinking it wasn't good enough. But everyday I got a little bit better.
And it might be best with the Crazy in Love cover from Gatsby...just load up that this YT video while watching the animated GIF and you're all set. (This is how Millennials watch TV, BTW...it's all animated GIFs with YouTube video soundtracks. Civilization is gonna be juuuuuuust fine.)
Last year, Vice travelled to Matehuala, Mexico in search of dance crews who wear extremely pointy cowboy boots called botas vaqueras exóticas.
In Matehuala, guarachero has become an unlikely style of music where a bunch of people who in theory should not get along come together and get along. It's also the music preferred by the men and boys in the long and pointed boots.
Participants in these dance contests spend the days and weeks prior choreographing intricate footwork routines and fabricating their own outfits with cheap paint and fabric. The grand prize, beyond the enthusiastic crowd's affection, is either a bottle of whiskey or a few bucks.
It also reminded me, faintly but insistently, of this classic video of Cab Calloway and the Nicholas Brothers, from the movie Stormy Weather. (What is it with economic depression => dancing in tuxedos?)
I still think this is the easily most amazing display of deliberate human physicality in dance I've ever seen. Maybe anywhere. (Hit Twitter at @kottke or @tcarmody if you think you've got a better candidate.)
Turf dancing is similar to krumping and poppin' & lockin' in that they're all basically break dancing 2.0. This is a particularly fine exhibition of the form:
Every time I see someone glide around, from Michael Jackson's 1983 Motown Moonwalk on up to David Elsewhere, I think no one can get any better at skimming around on their feet like they're weightless. Then four kids dancing on a rainy street corner up the ante and once more shift what Stuart Kauffman calls the adjacent possible. (via snarkmarket)
This is a documentary about vogueing, and the extremely refined and detailed aesthetic sensibilities it reflects, shot in New York City around Chelsea, the Meatpacking District, and Harlem in the mid- to late-80s. The city has changed in dramatic ways since then, to say the least. The characters of the film are complete outsiders with, at the same time, a deep understanding of the world they are outside of.
Eternal Moonwalk is also an incidental tutorial in the basic properties of cinema. It returns motion pictures to their origin point, when the medium's core appeal was the chance to watch strangers performing, their bodies moving from Point A to Point B, their familiar or amusing actions serving as an emotional connection point, a reminder that we're members of the same species inhabiting the same small world.
New crazy bird flu dance is all the rage in the Ivory Coast. "If we kill all our chickens and poultry, our cousins in the village will become poor. So I created the bird flu dance to put joy back into our hearts." Article comes with a complimentary Funky Chicken joke...but not with a "this dance is sick, yo" joke.