Everybody Dance Now 3: Listen to Your Heart

It’s been a year since the last edition of Everybody Dance Now. Today we look at some movement-and-music videos as well as several music promos that feature choreography and companies.

Down Under(ground)

According to Wikipedia, in the 1990s members of what would become the Australian band The Avalanches shopped for instruments and studio equipment at second-hand stores whereby they also amassed a massive record collection from which they employed 3,500 samples on their debut album Since I Left You, handily demonstrated by the promo video for “Frontier Psychiatrist.” That video depicts an elaborate radio-drama stage à la David Lynch’s On the Air, with each of the LP samples acted out in improbable succession. (It’s codirected by Tom Kuntz, of Smell like a Man, Man fame, who also directed Bumblebeez’s “Dr. Love” from last time.) The promo for the album’s title track, below, turns to cinema, but then takes a turn. It won directors Rob Leggatt and Leigh Marling (Blue Source) Best Video at the 2001 MTV Europe Music Awards. But it was not the band’s original idea for the song. “We wrote a treatment,” said Avs member Robbie Chater, “involving syncronised swimmers on [an] ocean liner and we were told no by the record company.”

The band’s promo for “Because I’m Me,” from the second album Wildflower, is just as improbable, also set underground. Directed by Greg Bunkalla; choreography by Soraya Lundy.

Field & Scream

London-based Jungle’s co-founder Josh Lloyd-Watson also directs the band’s videos, and former member Nat Zangi is credited with some of the choreography. Lloyd-Watson is fond of the Rope trick to keep the action flowing seamlessly, as in “Heavy, California.”

“What’s Going On” was a revolution in Marvin Gaye’s sound and substance. According to Wikipedia the song was inspired by cops’ brutality during the May ’69 “Bloody Thursday” in Berkeley’s People’s Park, witnessed by the song’s cowriter Renaldo Benson who offered it to his group the Four Tops, which declined. Benson then turned to Marvin Gaye who gave it a makeover. It wasn’t released until nearly two years after its initial inspiration, but this was after the killing of Black Panthers Fred Hampton and Mark Clark by the Chicago PD in December and the May ’70 killings at Kent State and Jackson State Universities etc, etc. What’s going on? is merely a question, but one worth asking in 2016 after the explosion of Black Lives Matter, lesbian roots and all. Below, singer-songwriter and dramaturgist Ryan Amador collaborates with musician Daniel Weidlein and choreographer Polanco Jones Jr. on a minimalist rendition.

Brian Eno’s “Bone Bomb” is perhaps my favorite of his songs. It has the quality of a ransom note and the sensibility of “Listening Wind” from Eno’s collaboration with Talking Heads, Remain in Light. The first version below, by Blackpudlian (or is it Sand Grown’un?) Spencer Max inserts an annoying audio add-on near the end. But I like the comment: “Derek Jarman does a bit of surveillance for the estate neighbourhood watch?” Surely that’s what it is, but I like to imagine it was choreographed. With Merce Cunningham’s sense of indeterminacy.

Braided Light Dance Project hails from Florida, founded in 2007 with a modest goal: “to shift the paradigm of dance in Jacksonville.” The dancework below begins with Eno’s brief “Aragon” from his Music for Films, appropriately enough, given the performance format. Again, Eno’s original, powerful ending is replaced.

I Love a Woman in Uniform

Woyzeck is a bleak play that never was completed, yet its fragments were cobbled together so that it was premiered seventy-six years after playwright Georg Brüchner’s 1837 death and went on to capture the imagination and inventiveness of dozens of other artists, from Alban Berg to Robert Wilson (with Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan). I’m interested in the fact that the play was based on a real-life figure who had been a wigmaker before he became a soldier, presumably a more lucrative pursuit. (Cf. Gang of Four’s “I Love a Man in Uniform,” discussed here.) Wigs cover up, pump up, beguile, and delude—as do uniforms—just as Andrea K. Schlehwein’s onstage costume changes reveal the hidden in her wozzeck_woyzeck_reloaded [sic], even as her voiceover lines are lined out. The open secret about Brüchner is that he was a socialist and a propagandist who flip-flopped in his enthusiasm for armed revolution. And so Schlehwein exhibits more, mm…, movement than does Werner Herzog in his own 1979 adaptation.

From a Distance

And now for some man-on-man action to remind us of what used to be (just a month or two ago), from the irrepressible Irrepressibles, i.e. “the creative guise of vocalist, composer, artist and producer Jamie Irrepressible,” né Jamie McDermott. Both are directed by Cypriote director, writer, and photographer Savvas Stavrou. “Submission” is choreographed by artistic gymnast Claire Heafford while Simon Donnellon does so for “Let Go” (and is the bleach blond who can be seen in the back row of “Heavy, California”).

Warning: Videos below contain stroboscopic sequences.

It’s a Jungle In There

For an unassuming, alto-crooning guy with an endearing comb-over, Rhye (Canadian Mike Milosh) nonetheless is steeped in sensuality, from the naked neckline of his then-wife and actor Alexa Nikolas on the album Woman to his own photograph of his new, nude paramour on the follow-up, Blood as well as the single “Please.” An entire post could be devoted to movement and dance in Rhye promos. For instance, the set seen in “Feel Your Weight” below was used in at least four of them, but it’s so appropriate here. California photographer (and linguist) Geneviève Jenkins directs here and Hollywood choreographer Lisa Eaton keeps things moving.

Rhye’s “Count to Five” moves from loft jungle gym to lofty urban jungles with Milosh codirecting with Jenkins, the choreography presumably improvised.

Lido Pimienta left the tangle of Barranquilla, Colombia for that of London—Ontario, that is—with her mother and siblings in 2005. In 2003 Barranquilla’s homicides had peaked at 483. By comparison her adopted city saw only 5 the year before. Pimienta, whose surname translates literally as pepper, describes herself as

Afro/Indigenous/Colombian/Canadian/punk/ folklorist/traditionalist/transgressive/diva/angel

In “Eso Que Tu Haces” (That thing you do; see translation) Pimienta expresses how one person can have such an effect on another that they lose their identity—even a multifaceted one—and not in a good way. The promo’s concept is hers and she codirects with Chilean filmmaker (and fellow Torontonian) Paz Ramirez. And Matilde Herrera is choreographer of the venerable Grupo de Danzas Kumbe, from the promo’s backdrop, Palenke, which “represents the first free Africans in America,” as described in The Open Immunology Journal and as noted in a Rolling Stone profile.

Ranch Style

Actor and filmmaker Brian Jordan Alvarez also has roots in Colombia by way of his mother. (His Emil has a killer accent.) Below, multicam surveillance footage on the fourth floor of a walkup captures what appears to be a little-understood mating ritual, surely fodder for a doctorate dissertation.

Only to find out that the sumptuous spread would be at the ranch of Perfume Genius. Choreography and dancers from Seattle’s Studio Kate Wallich.

To be continued… Part 1 • Part 2

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