Archive for category dancing

Dave Elsewhere Is Amazing Rubberman

His father wanted him to practice basketball, but Dave wanted to breakdance and practiced for years. It’s such an achievement to defy authority and social pressure and follow your dream.
Now he is famous and doing his stuff in commercials…

Tags: , ,

Age Is Just A Number

A friend thinks I could dance like this with or without my grandchildren. I wish I agreed with him. Maybe I COULD learn this routine if I tried…

Tags: , ,

Fitness Fads Through The Decades

Here is an amusing article describing the various fads that have engulfed fitness nuts over the years. The video shows them all, and the article delves deeper.

The 10 described are: hoola hoops, vibrating belt, gym culture, jazzercise, aerobics, home equipment, tae bo, spinning, crossfit, wearable activity trackers.

Who’d have guessed these are merely fads that grab the popular mindsets…like invasion of the body snatchers!


Haha, good article/video. Funny to see all of the fads especially the older ones.
I haven’t done any of those (Except Gym culture, I guess?) but Crossfit is very popular these days. Its good that it gets people into full body lifting exercises like deadlift, bench, squats, etc. However often there’s little attention given to having good form and it’s all about slamming in as many reps as fast as you can no matter what, under the pretense of being “intense” and “getting cardio”… when you could do an actual cardio exercise instead (like tennis, or running) and avoid unnecessary injuries. A lot of beginners get hurt badly. And yes the mentality is cult-like for sure.

Tags: , , , ,

How To Rule The World According To Amy Poehler

Comedienne Amy Poehler says this in her new book, Yes Please.

Spontaneous dance parties are important in my life. I have one in the makeup trailer almost every afternoon on “Parks and Recreation.” Dancing is the great equalizer. It gets people out of their heads and into their bodies. I think if you can dance and be free and not embarrassed you can rule the world.

Dancing can be so much fun, and there have been times when I just put on some music and moved spontaneously. It feels so good.

I went to a charity, gala, black-tie-optional fundraiser the other day, and the group I had been invited to join danced for two hours solid. Some were in their mid-20’s and others were gray-hairs in their 80’s. Thrilling to see and be part of the constant movement to the lively music of a 10-piece band. I was exhausted, but I kept going and kept up.

Did you ever see that scene in the movie, Love Actually, when Hugh Grant as British Prime Minister, starts dancing unexpectedly and forgets how proper he is supposed to be? Hilarious…we should all do it much more often…

Tags: , , , , ,

Father’s Day Dancetime

Pretty funny. Enjoy Jimmy Fallon bopping and boogieing with Chris Christie. Very clever…great that the gov can laugh at himself…good exercise too

Tags: , , , ,

Courage Beyond Imagination

I went to a dance recital the other day in which 165 girls, age 10-13, including my granddaughter, performed in groups of 5-20 for maybe five minutes. There were 28 different dances, each group performing twice. Each dance had its own distinctive professional-looking costume.

It was pleasant, mostly mediocre. Lots of parents and friends clapping and shouting for their kids and grandkids. An audience of 750, all of us very supportive. I usually look for one or two girls in a group who have real energy and talent and focus on them. But I couldn’t find more than a couple in the whole two hours.

However there was one girl who was sensational. She stood out so magnificently that I couldn’t take my eyes off of her in both of her performances. What made her so exceptional is that she is afflicted with Marfan Syndrome. She does not have a normal body shape, she couldn’t move as effortlessly and gracefully as others around her, and when the girls in her group would kneel or lie on the ground, she would be the only one standing and twirling as best she could.

People around me were passing out tissues and crying uninhibitedly. I learned that this girl has had around 50 operations to allow her to even stand up, and it was one of the bravest, most courageous accomplishments I have ever witnessed. I picture so many of the “normal” girls fretting that a hair was out of place or that their lipstick was a tiny bit smudged. And then I picture this special girl knowing that people will stare at her, maybe laugh at her, risking embarrassment and humiliation. Not every kid who is a teenager or younger appreciates what an astonishing achievement it is for this girl to chance being jeered at.

I remember giving speeches in front of 200 people, performing in front of 500 as part of a group that had completed a juggling course. I was nervous. I’ve known experienced actors who admit they are scared, maybe even nauseous, before every performance. Yet here was a girl of just 12 or 13 who was wearing her ballerina tutu and moving as best she could, while knowing that it was awkward and noticeably “inferior” compared to all the other girls in the recital. But it wasn’t inferior…it was far far better, because we used different standards in making our assessments.

All of us in the audience accepted that these girls were building self esteem, having fun, learning to be part of a team, enjoying moving to music, discovering the rewards of weekly discipline and dozens of rehearsals. All part of growing up to live in adult society. This special girl, this apparently disabled girl, was no exception. She and her parents were no different than the others in choosing to be involved in this program. It was a blessing, an inspiration and a joy to watch her accomplishment in motion. It was one of the most poignant performances of my life. I feel privileged to have been there and will never forget her.

BTW I learned that Michael Phelps has Marfan Syndrome. Who’d have guessed? He has certainly used his unusual body shape, longer fingers and arms to set Olympic records in swimming competitions. Maybe the girl I saw dancing will be as fortunate to discover some milieu in which her distinctive qualities can transport her to unimaginable successes. A lesson for all of us normals.

Tags: , ,

Ben Aaron Teaches Footloose And Learns Moonwalk

Not sure what I like about these Ben Aaron videos related to dance. They certainly don’t create any muscle. But they sure do create satisfying, uplifting and enjoyable feelings in the body and brain. And they may be worth simulating simply for the healthy movement, self esteem they instill, a bit of cardio. Who cares. The world loves to dance. Anyone can do it…to whatever degree.

Along the way I bumped again into another ordinary guy dancing, Matt Harding, in the Where Is Matt series of videos. Remember those? People dancing…if you can call it that…but enjoying moving to music at the same time and just being together in a world of friction, suspicion and warring. Matt’s videos give us lots of hope, and you are certain to be smiling as you watch them.

Below is one of my favorites and also his most recent one.

Tags: , , , , ,

Ben Aaron’s Workout Choice Is Dancewalking

Funny…Feels Good…and after millions of views, the person creating this video, Ben Aaron, located his dancing guru master and made this video:

Ben is a NYC NBC TV reporter who makes videos about everyday fun stuff that viewers find interesting. He also won Emmys two years for Best Features Reporter. Here is a link to his facebook page.

Tags: , , , ,

Morning Wake Up

A friend sent me this Zumba video, and I had two reactions: I watched it first thing in the morning, and it woke me right up. Enjoy about 30 seconds–mainly of the music–before you leave it and move on to more important things…like daily chores.

My second reaction was to smile and laugh at the limited moves and amateurishness of the dancing. But it was still worth a brief encounter and made me want to attend another zumba or other dance class…someday…

Tags: , ,

Extraordinary Dance-ish Routines By Talent Show Applicant

Sounds like Kenichi Ebina is self-taught. Well he learned how to move in an extraordinary manner. This video has received over 25 million views! So original, so powerful.

He ended up winning the 2013 Season 8 competition of America’s Got Talent.

Here are all his different performances in the competition. Just skip past the first one, which is the same as above, and go right to 2:25.

Tags: , ,

If Only This Were Possible

What’s athletic about this video is that it has adorable and unexpected dancing in it. Makes you smile to watch it and head for a magical mirror.

Tags: , ,

Contemporary Dance Mockery

A friend sent me this razzing video breaking down contemporary dance moves for better understanding and to help newbie choreographers. It’s all ridiculous and funny buffoonery, so you might enjoy this putdown and ribbing of modern dance. An unfortunate possible result is that you will see your next performance with a new brain that doesn’t take any of it seriously.

Tags: , , ,

Sexy Modern Dance Duet

I’m feeling like I need to move to music. I used to take jazz dancing classes at Carnegie Hall and near Lincoln Center almost 40 years ago. So I am searching for dance studios that offer classes to adults. Not easy, when you live far from a big city…my small town has just 1400 people.

I also started looking at dance movies and youtube videos of dance. This one is very suggestive erotic and romantic. It also has gymnastic moves, but that’s to be expected when you learn that the woman competed in the Olympics!

The pair call themselves, Duo MainTenanT, and Nicolas Besnard and gymnast and dancer, Ludivine Furnon are breathtaking in this amazing video from the television show Benissimo.

unbelievable movement

unbelievable movement

Ludivine Furnon is a retired Olympic athlete from France. She was the first French female gymnast to ever win a medal at the World Gymnastics Championships. Although she attended dance classes from the age of eight, Furnon did not study gymnastics until she was eleven years old. Her rise in the sport was astonishingly rapid. Two years after beginning gymnastics, she was accepted to train with the French national team in Marseille; by 1995 she was competing at the elite level when she also made her international debut, competing with the sixth-place French team at the World Gymnastics Championships in Sabae. With her innovative and expressive floor exercise routine, choreographed by coach Adriana Pop, she won a bronze medal in event finals. In 1996, she became the French national champion and represented France at the Olympics. In 2008, Furnon was part of the cast of Cirque du Soleil in the production Mystere in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Nicolas Besnard developed his art at National Circus School and at the University of Dance of Montreal.
In 2005, Nicolas was invited to be a guest act in the sexiest production of Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas – Zumanity where he performed over 2000 times in four years. He has performed all around the globe and has appeared in many different TV shows including Le Plus Grand Cabaret du Monde and Benissimo. He also won the Silver Medal in Paris at the most recognized Circus Festival in the world – 31st Festival Mondial du Cirque de Demain and made it to the finals of French Got Talent.

Now maybe I could learn to dance like this. That would be fun!

Tags: , , , , ,

Amazing Flamenco

I just spent a week in Spain and became caught up in football (America calls it soccer) there. Learned about the success of FCB (Futbol Club of Barcelona), watched my first match on TV, while rooting for my new team, bought an FCB jersey that I already wore playing tennis–the other players said I looked like a stop sign.

But I was constantly impressed with how dextrous soccer players are with their feet and legs…a talent I lack completely. It has been 45 years since I was in Barcelona admiring the architecture of Gaudi, and 25 years since I was in Madrid watching and loving the sensuousness and foot skills of flamenco dancers.

But I have never seen the varieties of flamenco that I discovered in this video: there are eight different kinds. Breathtaking. Sexy. Romantic. Revealing. Unabashedly passionate and vulnerable. Enjoy this mastery of the body by humans I cannot relate to. You too will be inspired to practice more leg exercises and foot movements to put us in touch with the lower half of our physical self…after years of indifference and distance.

Tags: , , , , ,

How Often Do You Dance?

my dad's dance friends had women dressed like this, but not in competitions

my dad’s dance friends had women dressed like this, but not in competitions

I read an article titled Why Don’t We Dance Anymore? When is the last time you danced in public or a party?

When I was a teenager in high school in Miami Beach, and other kids were watching American Bandstand and dancing to that music after school, I had to work after school and on weekends. So for years I was a cabana boy at the hotels serving the tourists. I picked up towels and cigarette butts and straightened out the lounges people lay on. I did errands. I also ogled the young teenage girls, and after work, would head very often to the Teen Room, where a grown-up played records we could dance to and make sure we acted properly.

Chaperones aside, I met lots of girls and taught them how to watch “submarine races” from the beach. And I did lots of dancing. I had the moves. I could really do fancy cha cha cha steps, the lindy, the twist. You had to stand out to impress the girls, and I was highly motivated. Plus it was good exercise (hahahaha!!!).

dancing is fun for all ages

dancing is fun for all ages

There was lots of dancing at frat parties in college and also after graduation. Every party had music of course. But with aging came less dancing…and less and less. There was that Studio 54 period, but I was already married and raising kids. When I separated and eventually divorced, I studied modern jazz at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center studios. I loved to shake to the music. And it was always helpful for a single guy trying to connect with single women…although most of them weren’t too talented. Some were put off by my unconventional moves. Others were perceptive enough to ask me if I were a professional dancer!

As the decades flew by, my peers danced less and less. A couple took tango lessons and went to Argentina with their instructor and classmates. But most sort of made a few easy steps at weddings and reunions. I remember a friend’s 60th birthday party, when we did line dancing and really went crazy with vigorous music. But for the most part, dinner parties with background music had become the norm. I missed those vibrant rhythms.

I remember so well working up great sweats jumping around, shouting and showing what I got. I remember great fun bringing out my old gestures and patterns. I thought I was cool. I remember trying to imitate new moves that I observed. But as an older guy, dancing is a relatively rare pleasure. It’s always with my wife, who is also a good dancer. In my circles, dancing with another women “just ain’t done.” It’s rarely so vigorous that we end up sweaty. And I’m not as nimble as I used to be. So I do it with wistful memories of former times.

My daughter says she and her friends still dance at parties and clubs. Maybe it’s an activity that most people relegate to their youth.

My father didn’t. He loved to dance and did it his whole life, even into his 80’s. He struggled with my mother their entire time together–he wanted to be first on the floor, before it became crowded…she wanted to be the last on the floor, so no one could see her limited abilities…But dad could do all the dances: the Latin variations, like samba, mambo, cha cha cha, salsa…fox trot, ball room dancing, square dancing…he was even a caller and they wore western costumes and went to other cities to dance with regional enthusiasts. My poor mother suffered.

After dad and mom divorced, he danced at a community center every week, and that’s where he met his next wife of maybe 30 years. They danced at contests, hotel bars on Miami Beach, and at fancy ballrooms. One visit to Florida, I joined him (in his mid-80’s) and my step mom on an evening of dance. He limped by then from a car accident, yet he twirled two women at a time. There was a man in a red suit gliding by, and the women were in all kinds of formal or show businessey gowns. It was hysterical. It was elegant. It was magnificent. And it was a “family” of like-minded dancers, of all ages, and backgrounds. Maybe I could find such a gathering in the rural area where I live.

Dad and his breed aside, most of us seem to do it rarely. Too bad. It was/is great fun. A month ago at a friend’s daughter’s wedding, my wife and I hit the very crowded, portable floor under a tent in a horse pasture and tried not to collide with the bride and groom and their boisterous and very energetic friends. They really let loose. There were even some old people who were flapping their wings and stomping quite admirably. Kind of reminds me what I heard about the great cellist Pablo Casals in his final years (he lived to 96): he was arthritic and could barely move…but when a bow was placed in his hands, he came alive and played his cello like he was decades younger.

One high school reunion, maybe the 40th, there was an Elvis impersonator hired to sing the oldies from our 50’s years (we graduated in 1958). I came in late to the hotel dance room, and there were my classmates, now rotund, gray, wrinkled, dancing like kids. They were teenagers again. Some guests of the hotel were watching from the back and laughing at these old people dancing out of character. They were appalled at the sight and shocked at the spectacle. Grey hairs acting like children…instead of the sedate walking dead acting their age. I should have told them about Casals. I should have told them to never act your age, if you don’t want to. But I didn’t. I knew better. And I loved seeing the class’s best dancers still being the best dancers…

Tags: , , , ,

Mongolian Folk Dancing

fresh from the field and showers and ready to watch folk dancing in the Ulaan Baatar  concert hall

fresh from the field and showers and ready to watch folk dancing in the Ulaan Baatar concert hall

After returning to Mongolia’s capital from a week of camping, we had only an hour to clean up and change quickly in the hotel, so we could attend a dance performance at the State Opera House. I stripped right away to shower, but only then discovered there were no towels in the room. Bummer. Hard to order towels, when the staff doesn’t speak English. I had to dress and go downstairs, and then took my shower anyway…though I was the last of our group in the lobby, we made it to the performance on time.

Many years ago I went to Brazil to study capoeira, the very deadly martial art that the slaves there disguised as a dance with musical instruments and songs to fool their 18-19th Century masters. The subtle moves in grimy, sweaty practice halls were nothing like the colorfully costumed, public renditions seen by uninformed tourists in nightclubs. But who knew.

I enjoyed many of the choreographed dances I saw in Ulaan Baatar that night, and have looked at over 100 videos on youtube to select some for you. But I have the impression now that what I saw in Mongolia was a commercial production for tourists, just as the capoeira presentations for night club acts in Brazil was not so authentic. One of the scientists on our trip told me the costumes are not traditional, and I gather now that many of the original dances were done inside gers, so there is almost no space to prance around.

Nevertheless. Here are some peppier selections I like with comments underneath.

Start at 1:20. This was one of my favorites actually performed by this same group. The announcer at the concert said the cups on their heads were supposed to be filled to the brim with mare’s milk and not one drop is allowed to be spilled.

this clip above shows many of the shoulder and arm movements that I saw in the concert hall performance.

go to 6:30—7:00 to see flexible hand dance segment. Then 12:15 to end to hear four different kinds of world-famous Mongolian throat singing.

3:20—3:50 shows the shoulder movements that might help my tennis swinging

a contortionist at the Opera House program was astonishing…supported her whole body weight with just her mouth. check out 3:10—3:40 and tell me how this young lady does it

Tags: , , , ,

Goofy Prancercise May Be For You

Well I finally heard of Prancercise. I only went to France for a week, but one author said, “Wait, what’s prancercise? Have you been living in Pyongyang or something? It’s an exercise routine inspired by horses, featuring such moves as “the prancercise gallop” and “the prancercise box” as well as some incredible rhymes by its instructor and founder, Rohrback, decked out in a crisp salmon jacket and some very revealing white pants:

“We’re gonna really cut the noose and let it loose, with the prancercise gallop.” ”

Joanna Rohrback knows you are laughing at her, and she doesn’t care.

She’s aware that people think her exercise routine “Prancercise” is “goofy,” and that by extension its founder must be “spooky and goofy and weird and wacky. I say bring it on. I love it. Look at all the attention it’s getting me. If I wasn’t all those things, I wouldn’t be who I am.”

You can see the original routine below, and you can read more right here .

Tags: , , , , ,

From Obscurity To Celebrity Via A Gas Pump

Ahh life can be so great at times. Now I can’t call these moves dancing and there is very little that any objective person would call athletic. I could mention that she is a fitness trainer. But there is such joy and spontaneity and innovation here. Watch when the man starts dancing with a gas pump hose. Hilarious and upbeat as can be.

It’s an episode of Pumpcast News (I’d never heard of it) in which drivers filling their gas tanks are talked to live by the man on the tv screen above the pump. Their shock is videoed and broadcast later on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

This couple was so special that they were actually invited on to the real show, were introduced by Jay and sang there on national TV to a standing, clapping moving audience. All as entertaining as some athletes I watch on TV, and they really have the moves.

Tags: , , , ,

B-Girl Terra Is a Child Prodigy Break Dancer

Here is an article and video (skip right to 42 sec) about a 6-year-old break dance prodigy named “B-girl Terra” who is putting all adult dancers to shame.

Last weekend, the miniature competitor took part in the Chelles Battle Pro competition in Paris, blowing away the rest of the contestants with her unbelievable windmills and headspins. Though she didn’t walk away with the final prize in the Baby Battle (she was bested in the last round by fellow pint-sized break dancer, JStyles), her tiny track suit and killer moves have certainly won the hearts of everyone who’s watched her since then.

I think it’s amazing that some kids display the passion, talent and athleticism at such a young age. It’s miraculous, when you think of all the humans who don’t even have serious interests until much later in life (like me with tennis). Prodigies are enviable. At least I have always had interests, am rarely bored, and have even had a few compulsive passions…like cheese, wine, non-fiction writing, chess, photography, hunting, even high diving (3-meter board) to impress girls in junior high school, etc. I feel for those who never seem hooked on any interest enough to really go after it enthusiastically. But if I have some passions, other people have different ones, like playing music or becoming a politician. We all are who we are. Still, few of us are prodigies like this kid.

Tags: , , , ,

Secret Talents Of Total Strangers

A friend sent me this link to a New York Times story that shows the beauty of movement by just “average, ordinary people.” I am awed again by the secret lives,experiences and talents of those you pass by in the street so casually, even indifferently. You might think most strangers are uninteresting—and some could be. But a number of them have fascinating pasts and capabilities that you could never imagine. So as you watch this video, think about your next crowd and what potential is lurking there, totally hidden from your sight and mind. On another note, though a published story, only 650 views of the video had been clocked when I looked.

As video concepts go, it was pretty simple: hit the streets and parks of New York with a boombox playing a dance remix of your band’s song and ask passers-by of all ages, races, shapes and sizes to move to it. Film the results.

Here, then, is the newly released video for “It’s Illicit” by the rock-ish band Motive, as remixed by an Italian group called Late Guest at the Party. It was shot late last summer at nine varyingly iconic New York City locations, including St. Marks Place, Flushing Meadows Park, Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg, and Coney Island in front of a wall that was later damaged by Hurricane Sandy.

Ari Goldstein, the band’s manager and the conceptualizer of the video (it was directed by Mark Carrenceja), promised that apart from the band members, everyone who appears in it was an actual random person passing by.

Tags: , , ,

Jordan Matter’s Flying Dancers

Half-Moon Bay California

Jordan Matter played baseball his first 20 years, became an actor, a portrait photographer and then made a book with pictures of bare-breasted women in public locations. His pictures (here are 20 of them) in another book are what intrigue me: dancers celebrating the joy of life in outdoor spaces. The final shots are beautiful and fanciful, slices of a motion that only a camera can capture.

But I am most interested in the demanding process of making that image. How many times did the dancer jump or leap? How taxing was it? How difficult, exasperating? That is the challenge…to get it just right. That is the physical effort that even an accomplished dancer had to push through, while Jordan is dealing with light, action, gawkers, cops.


Washington DC

So here is a link to Matter’s videos of what happened behind the scenes. There are over 25 short videos (just below the main larger video) that helped me appreciate the achievement of each session. One poor dancer had to work on the top of a mound of earth…only to discover later that it was not dirt, but the oily asphalt used to patch potholes. Others were lifting in the midst of a zillion sea gulls that might have torn them into pieces, like Hitchcock’s movie, The Birds. Here is one good example with street cleaners shoveling snow:

Dancers Among Us: In Harlem from Jordan Matter on Vimeo.

And here is the first overview from Jordan’s channel that shows you snippets from more of the videos:

Dancers Among Us goes around the USA in Ninety Seconds from Jordan Matter on Vimeo.

Tags: , , , ,

Silly Dancing While Traveling

In 2003, 2006, 2008, and 2012, Matt Harding made videos of himself and others in multiple countries doing a little dance he mastered of a few repetitive steps. They went viral, garnering 18 million viewings of the second one and 44 million of the third. He became a celebrity, and you can see videos two and three below. I love ’em. Very upbeat, inspirational and even promoting good will among all peoples. Can’t we just get along and have a little more peace in the world?

Now I read about newlyweds, Larry and Abbey Plawecki, who went to six European countries on their honeymoon and danced at various sites there. They hoped to make a video their friends would look at instead of a thousand smiling, similar, boringly-posed photos with different backgrounds that few would wade through. Who cares if they were influenced by Matt’s videos. What impressed me the most is how varied their steps and movements are. I kept wondering what they would do next. And also that they look so unlikely to be so uninhibited. So much for my stereotypes!

The Plawecki’s have one piece of advice they’d like to offer: “Do it. Don’t hold back. You’re never going to see these people again. You’re not going to be embarrassed. It’s for you,” Larry said. “And now, one of my friends told me, you can look back in 35 years and be like yeah, I did a cartwheel in front of the Louvre.”

I have to confess that my original intention on this site (inspired by Matt) was to flash my growing abs as I traveled around the country and the world. But it turned out people were embarrassed to take my picture, and I was stopped at some locations from baring my chest. And then my abs stopped growing. So I did give up. But if you look at my early progress photos, you can see me at a few domestic and overseas locations.

Here is Matt’s second video that really went viral of him dancing mostly alone in 31 countries.

His third video took him to 42 countries in which he organized groups of people to dance with him. Lotsa fun to watch. And here is a great interview about how his dancing videos all got started.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Are Dancers Also Athletes?

Some good points here that I agree with: dancers ARE athletes, and of course dancing is a very demanding physical challenge.

The dancer interviewed here, Alicia Graf Mack, has suffered major injuries three times in 15 years and had to work her way back from her pain and inactivity. She has an autoimmune disorder, an arthritis disease, so her joints were really inflamed. She had inflammation inside of her eye, and then pain in her right knee: the result of a very small tear. She had already had two knee surgeries, and the thought of worsening the tear and having another surgery was terrifying. It took four years just to get back to regular shape. It was the most depressing part of her life.

Some of this sounds exactly like Joe Namath’s constant surgeries and therapies with his injured knees. Who says dancers aren’t athletes? In fact Alicia show you why dancers have it tougher than most athletes!

Tags: , , , , ,

Creative Wedding March Down The Aisle

It’s a stretch to call this surprising dance performance an athletic achievement, even though it involves handstand walking and a somersault, but it’s so creative and makes me smile every time I watch and listen to it. Enjoy the premier and then the redo five weeks later on the TODAY SHOW. With so much stress and sadness in the world, this really is a joyful and uplifting celebration of life and new beginnings. Time magazine ranked the original video at number fifteen on its list of the fifty greatest YouTube videos.

Most couples wait until the after-vows reception, before breaking out into ecstatic dancing on their wedding day. But Kevin Heinz and Jill Peterson figured, why wait to unleash their unbridled joy?

The 28-year-olds floored their wedding guests on June 20, 2009, by having their whole bridal party—including seven bridesmaids, five groomsmen and four ushers—boogie down the aisle in a choreographed dance more at home in a Broadway musical than in a somber church.

Groomsmen split into sides as Heinz did a somersault in front of the wowed crowd—and the gown-clad Peterson quickly followed, shaking her hips to Chris Brown’s “Forever,” while pumping her bridal bouquet into the air during the ceremony in St. Paul, Minn.

Of course, some things are too good to keep to yourself. And when Kevin posted the wedding dance routine on YouTube, it quickly became a viral hit—some four million people right away and as of May, 2012, almost 75 million people have shared in the couple’s novel way of showing their matrimonial joy.

Heinz and Peterson (shes keeping her maiden name) appeared live on TODAY Friday, July 24, 2009, to tell their story of how their artistic self-expression on the biggest day of their lives captured America’s imagination and made them Internet stars.

After watching the video, TODAY’s Matt Lauer told the couple,” If that was a ceremony, I don’t know how you survived the honeymoon!” He then asked the couple who came up with the idea.

“It was mine,” Jill told Lauer. “I danced growing up and was a dancer through college and loved dance as a way to express yourself and share joy. So it was something I always thought about doing.” It didn’t take her fun-loving husband Kevin long to agree to the idea, saying the decision to dance was the first thing we really decided about the wedding that he wanted to do.

They then broke the news to the parents that their wedding processional wasn’t going to take on the more reserved joy of a typical wedding. Jill admitted that her mom was maybe a little nervous, and Kevin said his parents were definitely apprehensive, but didn’t try to talk the two crazy kids out of their plan. They swore them to secrecy so other wedding guests wouldn’t know what they were up to.

Next up was a dance rehearsal for the wedding party. Anyone seeing the YouTube video might think the whole party was composed of dance professionals—the bridesmaids alone, with their waving-hands routine at the altar, are worth the price of admission. But Jill said it was actually more seat-of-the-tux than the final result would indicate.

“People were sort of making it up as they went, people just got really into it and went for it. We just gave them a general layout.”

The wedding party rehearsed the dance for just 90 minutes. While guests were clearly overjoyed at getting a floor show even before the champagne flowed at the reception, Kevin and Jill are adamant they weren’t seeking a quick kiss of fame by posting their dancing high jinks on YouTube. Like many other viral video sensations, it was originally intended for friends and family.

“I put it up because her dad had been really harassing me to get it out to some of his other family members, and it exploded,” Kevin said.

JK Wedding Party—6/20/2009

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Capoeira Days

Watching the free running tapes two days ago reminded me of capoeira, a Brazilian martial art that I practiced for three years almost three decades ago sometimes three evenings a week. I was probably the oldest guy in the class—someone asked me if I was 24, when I was actually 42—and also one of the few white students. Some of the guys were street venders or construction workers. It was a strange contrast to leave a photo exhibition on Fifth Avenue and 57th Street with the Wall Street suits buying up art and walk three blocks to a run down dance studio that smelled of sweat and lacked ventilation.

If I didn’t know these gentle athletes who laughed and sang with me, I might have feared them in the street as strangers. It bothered me a lot to realize how easy it is to be prejudiced and so wrong about people you don’t know. I do recall one conversation in the dressing room, when a young man I really liked with a big smile was telling his friend that someone had started a fight with him, so he gave him a special capoeira kick that knocked him out and worried the kicker that he had killed him…

I loved the music everyone played and the songs we sang in Brazilian Portuguese as we formed a circle (roda) around the two “fighters” in the center. In the video above, you see the bow shaped birimbau and the tambourine (called a pandeiro), which I enjoyed slapping. I also played the triangle and the agogo, which sounds like a cow bell. Everyone clapped to cheer the capoeiristas on to more energy and more dangerous moves.

Capoeira originated with African slaves in Brazil in the 16th century who were not allowed to have weapons. So they developed this dance and music to fool their masters, while they practiced one of the deadliest fighting styles in the world. By inserting razors in their toes, they could easily kill their enemies. And even without any weapons, they could dominate most fights. The sport is still one of the most powerful of all martial arts.

The stylized sweeps and kicks in the videos are all meant to miss your opponent and simply practice the deadly moves. This “dance” has become an art form on its own these days, and just this week Jelom’s Viera’s dance company, DanceBrazil, is performing at the Joyce Theater in New York City.

DanceBrazil from Tiba on Vimeo.

I went on a trip with some classmates to Salvador and Rio in Brazil that was organized by Jelom when he was my mestre (master). It was a fabulous adventure to work out in the day in the dank heat…then at night watch my new friends in colorful costumes as they performed in swank clubs for tourists. The spontaneous shows I watched earlier in practice halls as three birimbaus were played from the heart or the top athletes tried to outdo one another with sparkling and unexpected moves made the choreographed club performances seem soulless in comparison. But the paying, drinking customers in the clubs never knew what they were missing. For that brief period, I was an insider and have reveled in that experience with fondness and gratitude.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,