OK, so maybe people don't generally wish each other a "Happy Labor Day," but when it's a day that allows for a long weekend, I say it's a happy one! (Though in case you're wondering the real meaning, Labor Day is a U.S. federal holiday, observed on the first Monday of September, that celebrates the social and economic contributions of workers. And also BBQs. Don't quote me on that last part though.)
If you're off from school or work today, I hope you're spending this unofficial last day of summer as lazily as possible.
So why not spend the day watching one of the greatest dance videos I've seen in a while?
It's titled "Craziest Dance Routines!!!!!" but that's just to get your attention. The video is really 11 minutes of the best breakin' routines from the R16 Korea World Championships, which were held in July.
Warning: Don't try these moves at home! Or do. Just stay on the carpet.
Sometimes, after a long week—and thanks to Hurricane Sandy, for many of us, this week has felt epically long—you just need a good laugh. If that laugh is prompted by a funny dance video, well, all the better.
As ever, we're here to help. Here are the two videos that've been our saving graces recently.
Behold: The (3-year-old) reincarnation of Michael Jackson.
Behold: The crazy dude in the commercial for UNO Roboto (which looks totally creepy, by the way).
Feeling better now? We thought so. And if you need more, spend some time poking around on dancemedia.com, a veritable treasure trove of danspiration.
Happy weekend, everyone!
Ohhh boy. It is a weird day, to put it mildly.
Since the political conversation is dominating every news and social media network in the world, we wanted to give you somewhere to escape, if you need to. And the best way to escape is to watch a bunch of beautiful, life-affirming, soul-soothing dance videos.
This isn't a scientific or comprehensive selection. It's just the clips we tend to turn to when we need more happy in our lives.
Alessandra Ferri and Julio Bocca in the balcony pas de deux from Romeo and Juliet
Their chemistry is otherworldly. This is one of the most difficult pas in all of ballet, but they make it look natural as...well, being in love.
The ReQuest and Royal Family dance crews in Justin Bieber's "Sorry" video
Delicious, candy-coated happy. And so much of it.
The Nicholas Brothers in Stormy Weather
Fred Astaire called this the greatest dance number ever filmed. That wasn't really hyperbole.
Two greats (three, if you count choreographer Twyla Tharp). One beautiful studio. One super-cheesy 80s song. Pure magic.
An A-list Latin dancer and an A-list ballet dancer who could convince us he might be an A-list Latin dancer. That's what "SYT" is all about, Charlie Brown.
Natalia Osipova in Kitri's Act I variation from Don Quixote
Here's Osipova back in 2008—one of her early performances as Kitri, a role that she now definitively owns—showing us what it means to LIVE onstage.
It's hard to choose just one Beyoncé video. But if you have to choose, you choose this one. Seven years later, it's still—yes, Kanye—one of the best videos of all time.
We know this is a less conventional choice, but JUST WATCH GABE. He's in the front of the first group, a wee dude (this is from 2013) absolutely, unequivocally dominating Miranda's inspired choreography. If this doesn't give you hope for the future, nothing will.
The finale of Center Stage's closing ballet
I've got canned heat in my heels, and magical color-changing pointe shoes, and two world-class ballet dudes who want me, and I am NAILING MY FOUETTÉS. Life is good.
Breathe, everyone. And don't skip class today. Dance helps everything.
Odds are good you’ve seen a T. Milly—aka Tim Milgram—production: He’s filmed class routines for the likes of Tricia Miranda and Brian Friedman, and his concept videos for the Fraternal Twins and 8 Flavahz crew have garnered millions of views. You’ve also probably encountered talented choreographer Talia Favia, a Capezio A.C.E. Award winner whose lush creations are highly camera-friendly.So what does it take to capture the essence of a dance on film? And what makes choreography pop on screen? Dance Spirit got the scoop from Milgram and Favia, who discussed “Let It Go,” the popular video they collaborated on last year.
On the set of "Let It Go" (courtesy Talia Favia)
Tim Milgram first fell in love with dance at University of California, Santa Barbara. Though he majored in computer science, he took classes with the school’s dance department senior year. After a stint as a software engineer post-graduation, he moved to L.A., planning to juggle his tech career with a dance career. Turns out, he had a knack for capturing dance on film. A significant milestone came in 2015, when Alyson Stoner asked Milgram to direct her Missy Elliott tribute, which appeared on YouTube’s homepage.
I believe that dance is something that’s best seen live—a filmed performance might never have the same energy the choreography does in real life. So my goal is to bridge the gap between how a dance is meant to be seen and how it can be seen. I want to show a dancer’s personality and charisma—it’s not only about filming the choreography.That’s why I love the emotionality that Talia brings to her work. I’d been a big fan of hers for a while, which is why I reached out to her about collaborating on a piece to James Bay’s “Let It Go” last year. The day before the shoot, I brought my camera to her rehearsal. I like to get comfortable with the material and start thinking about specific shots. When I filmed Alyson Stoner’s Missy Elliott tribute, I actually learned all the choreography!
At the shoot, Talia realized she had to tweak some of her steps and phrases because of the furniture that was part of the set. And we actually came up with the video’s ending together. Working with Talia proved to be easy—our roles were clearly defined. She was the choreographer and I was director; having set boundaries is a lot of what makes a good working relationship. Of course, when two people are passionate about a project, your roles will collide—it’s naturally going to happen. But it’s also part of my job to hold back my own ego if a choreographer starts directing. The smoothest shoots happen when the choreographer and the director trust each other. Strong-minded choreographers can be challenging to work with, though I’ve learned that the best approach is to listen and figure out why he or she might be so tied to an idea, so that we can work together to find a solution that makes us both happy. In a music video, you often don’t see more than a couple seconds of choreography before a phrase is spliced. But my goal is to cut as little as possible and retain everything I can. I get frustrated when I see dance films that are packed with cuts or special effects, which are often used to hide minor mistakes. My older stuff has a lot of that—but I’m trying to make my work cleaner. I don’t want viewers to get distracted.
Choreographing for the Camera
Talia Favia grew up in Arizona, where she trained at Dance Connection 2 in Chandler. She traveled as a PULSE Elite Protégé in 2009, assisting choreographers Brian Friedman, Mia Michaels and Wade Robson, and she continued to assist Michaels as well as Tyce Diorio on “So You Think You Can Dance.” Her piece “The Difference Between Action and Words” received the top prize at the 2014 Capezio A.C.E. Awards.
My earliest experiences with filming dance came out of working on “So You Think You Can Dance” and assisting Mia, especially during blocking rehearsals. It was fascinating to see how her work for the stage translated to the screen—I was intrigued by how much a dance could change based on what she had the cameras focus on at each moment. I worked on my first music video when I was 21, and it was cool to see my choreo reimagined in that capacity. But I wasn’t sure my work was captured as best as it could have been. I wanted to dig deeper. So when Tim reached out about the James Bay video, I was nervous. Not because of Tim—it’s clear from his videos how in tune he is with dance and dancers. I was apprehensive about how my work would be received, and if people were going to be able to really feel it through a lens. I ended up choreographing the entire “Let It Go” duet, which starred Courtney Schwartz and Chaz Buzan, as if it would be seen from a proscenium stage. Once we got to the actual venue and saw the set, I was able to visualize how it could be altered for film—changing some of the sections to face different directions, for example. I also learned that I had to be willing to make choreographic tweaks. The set had a couch and a ton of windows, so some shots I thought were going to look great ended up vetoed by Tim because the lighting wasn’t right, or a piece of the set was in the way. In one part, Courtney is lying on the ground and arches her back as Chaz unexpectedly slides his head underneath. I had to add a second of extra movement for Courtney—a head shake—to make sure Chaz wouldn’t be seen too soon from the angle Tim was filming. There were a lot of little changes like that, but it’s key to put your pride aside and do what’s best for the end result. Those tweaks are often blessings in disguise. My duet originally had a different ending—I wanted Chaz to leave Courtney. But Tim mentioned that that looked like the ending to another video he’d done recently. So we changed it: We had the two end up on the couch together, which is how the video starts. The process wasn’t quite as simple as that sounds; it took take after take to capture Courtney sitting on the couch in just the right way. But, the result was so much deeper than my original concept.
Hoping to create your own dance video? Read these tips first.
1. Think about using odd-numbered formations. “I’m not usually a big fan of even numbers,” says director/cinematographer Tim Milgram. “Yes, in a contemporary duet, a pair’s interaction is what makes a frame interesting. But if, during a class combo or group section, two people are doing the same movement next to one another, our eyes tend to compare them. Tiny discrepancies between the dancers become even more noticeable.”
2. Be open to changing your choreography. “Fight for your vision, but hear the director’s point of view,” says choreographer Talia Favia. “Know that he or she isn’t trying to change your work. The director simply wants to add to it as a whole.”
3. Communicate constantly and openly with the director. “When choreographer Janelle Ginestra and I work together, we’re like brother and sister,” Milgram says. “Our shoots go well because we’re very blunt with one another and receptive to each other’s opinions.”
4. Don’t worry if you don’t have all the answers right away. “I love it when choreographers don’t set everything in stone, so we can work together to add more texture or new formations to a video,” Milgram says. That said, make sure your dancers are well rehearsed and clean—you don’t want to waste valuable filming time fixing sloppy mistakes.
5. Know when your role as choreographer is done. Much of the time, Milgram edits his films alone, though he’ll watch them with the choreographers and dancers before he releases them to make sure everyone’s happy. “Not having control over the editing process can be terrifying,” Favia admits. “But that’s where your trust in the director has to come in.” —JO
Need a kick-start to your week? "Run the World," the newest concept video from choreographer Janelle Ginestra, videographer/director Tim Milgram and self-titled "Fraternal Twins" Taylor Hatala and Larsen Thompson, will certainly do the trick. OK, so they're not actually fraternal twins (as you know). But 14-year-old Larsen and 11-year-old Taylor are seriously the best lady-dance partners the world could ask for. And add in the right concept and styling, and the two really do look a lot like sisters...
But I digress.
In Ginestra's world (and Beyoncé's, for that matter) the twins are at the top—this time as global CEOs, running the world like the true bosses they are. For the most part, it's just Taylor and Larsen, though Kyle Hanagami has quite possibly the cutest cameo in the history of concept videos. What starts off as Window's Surface commercial–esque turns into the most kick-butt call for more women leaders.
World domination on fleek (Larsen Thompson and Taylor Hatala in "Run the World")
I'd watch this video before starting any summer school work you might be putting off. #Girlpower #Inspiration #YoumightevenrunforStudentcouncilpresidentthisyear.
Dust off those celebratory moves, people. It's Friday.
I miss that guy.
What else can help celebrate the gloriousness that is the end of a long week? Dance videos—obv. And now, thanks to The New Yorker, you can add a few more to your list. The magazine recently debuted a new web series called "Five-Borough Freestyle," which, according to its tagline, is "an exploration of New York's diverse and ever-evolving dance scene, set in interesting locations around the city." OK, I'm hooked.
Albert "The Ghost" Esquillin, a founding member of the Bed-Stuy Veterans, featured in "Five-Borough Freestyle" (Photo by Deidre Schoo for the New York Times)
The first two episodes in the series focus on Bruk Up, an interpretive style that developed out of Jamaican dance halls in the 1990s. (Bruk Up eventually spawned flexin' and bone breaking, two styles that video producer Sky Dylan-Robbins explains will be showcased in future episodes.) And while both videos highlight amazing dancing, they also include commentary from the artists themselves. Watch the first two eps below!
It's been a heck of a year for dance on the interwebs. Since it's about to be 2015, it's time to sum up the last 12 months with a good old fashioned "Best Of" list. So without further ado, here are the top dance videos of 2014.
15. Keone Madrid's turnip tribute. It was a pretty close call between this one and the more serious, tug-at-your-heartstrings video that he and wife Mari created together back in January. But while almost anyone can make a dance about romance, only a true pro can make vegetables appealing.
14. Glen Keane’s Duet. If this animated short doesn’t make you tear up even just a teeny, tiny, little bit, consider yourself a heartless monster.
13. Cloud's musical theater spectacular. It's like "The Office" meets "Glee" meets the Microsoft Surface Pro commercial. And Danny DeVito is everything.
11. Michael Jackson and Justin Timberlake's "Love Never Felt So Good." It should've been called, "Love Never Looked So Good When You Put So Many Dancers Together in One Amazing Video."
10. The Company's second-place routine at VIBE. This is the perfectly synchronized hip-hop piece that took over your Facebook news feed back in May—and if you watch it again, you'll see it really is that good.
9. "The A–Z of Dance." Directed by Jacob Sutton—and highlighting 26 fabulous dance styles—this special project for Diesel and i-D will hold a special place in our hearts for years to come.
7. Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off." So cute. So fun. If only Taylor Hatala were in it...amirite?
5. The Australian Ballet's pointe shoe prep. Sure, pointe shoes are beautiful. But it's nice to see dancers beating the poop out of 'em once in a while.
4. Sia's "Chandelier." Yeah, yeah, yeah—everybody knows this one was great. Maddie Z's a pro. There's really nothing left to say.
3. The fabulously heeled Yanis Marshall. He even got a shout out from Beyoncé. #werk
2. Carrie Underwood's "Something in the Water." It's game over when Shaping Sound Dance Company's in your video.
1. Taylor Hatala. If you haven't seen this 11-year-old, who broke the internet in September, welcome back to Earth. No matter how many times you watch her renditions of "Anaconda" (or "All About That Bass" or "Shake It Off"), they just get better and better. And the world agrees—many of her videos are past the 10 million viewer mark.
Happy New Year, dancers!