Favourite Dance Videos of 2020

I’m curious about the relationship between mass and text. One of the ways this manifests is a curiosity about movement, because:

  1. if you consider that all matter can be a medium of communication (a substrate through which to make meaning)
  2. and if you consider that the human body, being matter, is embodied meaning
  3. then, considered together, movement is (non-verbal) language.

I watch dance videos partly because dancers look really cool, and partly movement is an interesting alphabet…but mostly because good dancing looks really cool 😀

These are some of my favourite dance videos (i.e. videos I watched repeatedly) in 2020. I say “some” because there are videos I saw on Twitter and Instagram that I can no longer find 🥺 Note to self: do a better documenting this in future.

Important: are you someone who gets very uncomfortable at the idea of same-sex intimacy? You should probably not read this article 😀 Some of these videos feature men being very sensual with each other, so if you don’t like that, you should go elsewhere. Fair warning!

Brotherhood

I really, really, really love these guys. Brotherhood is a Canadian dance crew that does big, loud, crowd pleasing performances and clearly have a TON of fun doing it. They’re funny and carefree and command any stage they’re on, and it’s impossible to watch them without getting a huge grin on your face.

These guys are natural performers. They make it look easy, but their level of coordination and sheer athleticism is mind-blowing. I suspect some people give them grief because they lean hard into popular dances, but you know what? They know how to hype up a crowd and put on a show, and we love them for it.

Mood-Dok and 033_0.beom dancing to Jayla Darden’s “IDEA686”

Holy shit.

The sensuality of this entire thing continues to blow my mind. The fluidity! The grace! The chemistry between both dancers is downright electrifying. Shout out to the camera crew as well!

So many things came together to create a literally perfect dance video.

Chibi Unity dancing at Vibe Jrs 2020

I still get goosebumps when I watch this video. I have no background in dance theory or anything like that, and I’m certain I’m missing the vast majority of the intention of this performance, but I’m obsessed with the way this crew used light as an architectural element in their choreography.

They took what could have been a forgettable gimmick and instead produced a visual essay in how to use light to focus attention, suggest scale, imply shape, and the strategic use of darkness. They made light a third layer in a composition whose other notes included music as well as the “visual notes” of body movement.

Again, I’m sure the majority of this performance is going way over my head, but I came away with an expanded understanding of what dance could be.

The mind boggles at what a risk this was, because this was a dance competition, and you can barely see the performance! And they’re literally kids (a kid dance group from Japan)!

Quansheng Dance Team dancing to Assi and BM’s “Gwara Nao Para” *

*(I think! I used Google Translate!)

I like this video more for what it represents, than for the choreography and performance (which looks great).

During the period when I found this video, I noticed several Asian dance groups choreographing to African music. I don’t have firm evidence that this was a major trend, and I don’t have any theories about what it might mean, but I genuinely believe it was A Thing, and it made me wonder what the opportunity is for African music as an export to Asia.

Several months later, I saw this tweet by what appears to be a Japanese fan account for Nigerian music (?), which made me curious anew about what’s happening with African music in Asia.

If you know anything about the popularity of African music in Asia, please share with me on Twitter!

UNVISION dancing at Vibe XXIV

Another example of light being used as a prop in dance. This time, they have a reflective object in the back that adds a whole other layer to the composition.

I don’t want to spoil it for you, but my eyes bugged out in at least two moments during the performance.

Bai Xiaobai’s fan dance to “Drunk” by Isabelle Huang *

*(I think! I used Google Translate + some help from the YouTube comments)

This dance complicates the idea of masculine and feminine. The dancers don’t acknowledge each other at all, and yet it feels like there is a dialogue between them that includes a conversation about hardness and softness, curves and edges.

There is also something overwhelmingly physical about this dance, and it’s not just that the dancer in the foreground performs the entire thing in boots (!!!). Some of the moves almost seem to require experience in gymnastics or calisthenics to pull off. It’s a marvel that something this physically demanding reads as being effortless.

Movement as language

I don’t yet have anything useful to say about movement as language, to be honest. My understanding here is very elementary, and I’m content for now to simply Notice and Point.

Nicole Williams, however, has interesting thoughts about movement. I think this tweet was my first introduction to the idea that there was something worth Noticing about movement.

This too.

A request: there are two subtopics within movement that I’m further curious about:

  • I’m curious about notations for dance (thanks to Geoff Manaugh for pointing me to this resource on dance notations from 1700)
  • I’m curious about martial movement (it makes sense that physical fighters have a movement practice. I think the first time I learned about was by eavedropping on a Twitter conversation about movement in sword-fighting)

If you have any resources related to these topics, please send them my way via Twitter.