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kottke.org posts about dance

Dancing on roller skates with James Brown’s style

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 18, 2017

For the latest installment of the Dance In The Real World series, the NY Times visited a Chicago roller rink where people skate in a JB Style, named after the performer James Brown. I wanted to watch about 10 more minutes of that…and then go roller skating. See also Dancing on Skates.

Other videos in the Dance In The Real World series include stilt-dancing in Trinadad and the new vogueing scene in NYC. And they’re the perfect snackable size…I watched all five of them just now.

My recent media diet, special French edition

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 02, 2017

Quick reviews of some things I’ve read, seen, heard, and experienced in the past two weeks or so. I recently took a trip to France to visit friends and log some time in one of my favorite places on Earth, so this particular media diet is heavy on Parisian museums and food. If you take nothing else away from this post, avoid The Louvre and watch The Handmaid’s Tale at the earliest opportunity.

Dial M for Murder. This Hitchcock film, with its relatively low stakes and filmed mostly in one room, is more suspenseful and thrilling than any of the “the world/galaxy/universe is in peril” movies out today. (A-)

Musée des Arts et Métiers. Before ~1950, you could look at a machine and pretty much know what it did and how it worked. After the invention of the digital computer, everything is an inscrutable black box. (A)

Manon des Sources. This movie feels much older than it is. (B+)

Marconi. The chef from my favorite NYC restaurant recently opened this place in Montreal. Best meal I had during my trip (Paris included). (A)

The Big Sick. It may have been a little predictable, but I really liked this movie. Lots of heart. (B+)

Le Chateaubriand. The skate tartar and a dessert with a smoked cream were the highlights, but the whole experience was top-notch and chill. (A-)

Candelaria. You will never feel cooler in Paris than having an excellent cocktail in a bar behind a hidden door in the back of a taqueria. (A-)

Musée Picasso. Not much else to say about Picasso at this point, is there? That creep can roll, man. (A-)

Women in Physics. My daughter is pretty interested in science and scientists (she’s a particular fan of Marie Curie), so books that highlight women scientists can always be found around our house. (B)

Café de Flore. You will never feel cooler in Paris than sitting outside at Café de Flore at night, reading a book, and drinking a Negroni as Hemingway might have done in the 20s. (Tho Hemingway probably didn’t have a Kindle.) (A-)

Stacked. I recently rediscovered this hour-long mix by Royal Sapien. The two-ish minutes starting at 32:00 are sublime IMO. (A-)

The Devil in the White City. A gripping tale of architecture and serial killing. Chicago 1893 is definitely one of my hypothetical time travel destinations. (A)

Sainte-Chapelle. My favorite church in Paris. Literally jaw-dropping, worth the €10 entry fee. (A)

Rough Night. I will watch anything with Kate McKinnon in it. But… (B-)

Balanchine / Teshigawara / Bausch. An amazing building. (I got to go backstage!) The third act of this ballet was flat-out amazing. (B+)

The Louvre. The best-known works are underwhelming and the rest of this massive museum is overwhelming. The massive crowds, constant photo-taking, and selfies make it difficult to actually look at the art. Should have skipped it. (C)

100 Pounds of Popcorn. Forgettable kids book. (C-)

Kubo and the Two Strings. A fun thing to do is tell someone halfway through that it’s stop motion animated. (A-)

Musée d’Orsay. The building and the art it contains elevate each other. Probably the best big museum in Paris. (A-)

The Handmaid’s Tale. This is both a not-implausible future of the United States and a metaphor for how many women and LGBT+ folks feel about how our society treats them. Excellent, a must-watch. (A)

Musée de l’Orangerie. Two rooms of huge Monet Waterlilies? Yes, please. (A-)

Brasserie Lipp. The steak frites was so-so, but the people watching from my table near the entrance was fascinating. You’ll never feel cooler…etc. etc. (B+)

Monograph by Chris Ware. This thing is *huge* (like it weighs almost 9 pounds) and beautiful. (A-)

D3 Traveller. I bought this on sale, but even so it was an epic splurge for me. Now that I’ve been on 4-5 trips with it, I can say I love love love this bag. Will likely last a lifetime. (A)

Blade Runner 2049. Rewatch, this time on a smaller screen. Despite its flaws, I definitely like this more than the original. (A-)

The mechanics of history

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 30, 2017

From choreographer Yoann Bourgeois, a mesmerizing trampoline performance called La mécanique de l’histoire (The mechanics of history). It often looks like they’re moving in slow motion, which is tough to do when the acceleration of gravity is involved.

Ballet Rotoscope

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 29, 2017

In a short film from 2011, you can see the shapes, curves, and outlines left by a ballet dancer as her arms, legs, and body move through the dance studio. This isn’t quite dancing about architecture, but maybe dancing about geometry?

An amazing indoor skydiving freestyle routine

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 06, 2017

The 2017 Wind Games were recently held in Spain and featured skydivers from all over the world competing in a number of indoor skydiving1 events. Maja Kuczynska competed in the freestyle category and her routine/dance/performance was arresting.

My mind broke a little watching this. People are not supposed to move like this, like superheroes…it looks like not particularly well done special effects. At several points, the way she moves reminded me of Saruman toying with Gandalf before flinging him to the top of Orthanc in the Fellowship of the Ring.

Here’s her performance from another angle. Wow. Just wow. Kuczynska finished third in the event while Kyra Poh took first…here’s Poh’s winning routine.

  1. Indoor skydiving is accomplished through the use of a vertical wind tunnel which simulates an endless freefall.

Lil Buck dances with icons of modern art

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 16, 2016

Watch as dancer Lil Buck gracefully moves through an exhibit at Foundation Louis Vuitton in Paris. Icons Of Modern Art: The Shchukin Collection, which includes work from Picasso, Matisse, Gauguin, and Monet, is on view there through Feb 20, 2017. Lil Buck is on view at YouTube indefinitely.

Incredible breakdancing crew from Korea

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 20, 2016

Morning of Owl is a dance crew from Korea and they are from The Matrix, I think?

How did you do that? You moved like they do. I’ve never seen anyone move that fast.

Amazing athleticism and coordination. (via @aaroncoleman0)

Motion capture dance madness

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 11, 2016

People are doing amazing things with motion capture these days. (via colossal)

The dance number in Ex Machina works well with pretty much any song

posted by Jason Kottke   May 26, 2016

In Ex Machina, Oscar Isaac’s Nathan Bateman performs a dance number with one of his AI robots, played by Sonoya Mizuno. It’s the scene where I decided I was going to like the movie. Mizuno is a ballerina as well as an actress, but Isaac has no problem keeping up with her as the pair dance to Get Down Saturday Night.

Now, Twitter account @oscardances is showing how you can plug pretty much any song into that scene and the dance still works. Here’s Michael Jackson’s Thriller:

Intergalactic by the Beastie Boys:

And Oops I Did It Again by Britney Spears:

And there are dozens more here. (via @gavinpurcell)

Viral dance moves, 2006-2016

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 19, 2016

In a video from the New Yorker, dancers from around the country demonstrate viral dance moves from the past decade, including the Dougie, Walk It Out, and Dabbing. (via @silviakillings)

Rosie Perez on Soul Train

posted by Tim Carmody   Sep 14, 2015

At 19 (so, around 1983 or 1984) Rosie Perez moved from Brooklyn to Los Angeles to help a cousin with her children and go to college for biochemistry. Then she was recruited to be a dancer on Soul Train.

In her line dance solos, you can see early versions of many of the moves that would be immortalized in the opening credits of Do the Right Thing.

You also see a lot of what Perez calls “face dancing.” “Face dance means you don’t know what the hell the rest of your body was doing but your face is fierce. That’s face dancing.”

According to this Esquire article, Don Cornelius was dead set on packaging Perez as part of a girl group of hip-hop/R&B dancer-singers. Perez was uncertain and wouldn’t sign the contract. This led to a confrontation where Cornelius grabbed Perez, and in response, she threw a box of chicken at him.

That fight ended Perez’s time on Soul Train, but she soon had jobs choreographing Bobby Brown, The Fly Girls on In Living Color, and more. Arguably nobody did more to bring hip-hop dance to mainstream attention than Rosie Perez.

(Via @eugenewei)

Tree of Codes contemporary ballet performance

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 03, 2015

Tree Of Codes Jamie xx Olafur Eliasson

Director and choreographer Wayne McGregor, artist Olafur Eliasson, music producer Jamie XX (new album!), and dancers from the Paris Opera Ballet are collaborating on a contemporary ballet performance based on Jonathan Safran Foer’s Tree of Codes.

Award-winning choreographer Wayne McGregor’s groundbreaking practice embraces dance, science, film, music, and technology to generate intriguing, expansive works. For Tree of Codes, McGregor is collaborating with artist Olafur Eliasson and producer/composer Jamie xx to create a contemporary ballet. Eliasson’s large-scale projects, including The New York City Waterfalls and The weather project at the Tate Modern, have captured the attention of audiences worldwide. Mercury Prize-winning Jamie xx blurs the boundaries between artist and audience in sonic environments like the one he created with his band, The xx, at the Armory in 2014.

Triggered by Jonathan Safran Foer’s Tree of Codes (an artwork in the form of a book which was in turn inspired by Street of Crocodiles by Bruno Schulz), this new, evening-length work features a company of soloists and dancers from the Paris Opera Ballet and Company Wayne McGregor.

Two performances are planned so far: at the Manchester International Festival (July 2-10) and the Park Avenue Armory (Sept 14-21). (thx, michelle)

Pixel, a dancing light show

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 06, 2015

Pixel is a dance show that premiered in November at Maison des Arts de Créteil in France. The dancers are synced cleverly with an elaborate light show that makes it seem as though the two are interacting in real time. The effect is very convincing:

Old school hip-hop dancing

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 24, 2014

Dancers from legendary Bay Area hip-hop dance crews in the 1970s and 80s reminisce about the old days and show that they still have the moves.

Wonderful. There’s no school like the old school. (via waxy)

Ballet stories

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 06, 2014

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.

Season two just came out and is available at AOL. (via cup of jo)

On pointe

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 30, 2014

Three dancers from The Australian Ballet share their prep routines for their pointe shoes.

Take-aways: Ballerinas’ feet are really not attractive, they soup up their shoes in all sorts of unusual ways, but the end result is beautiful. (thx, fiona)

Dancebot 2014

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 12, 2014

This guy Fik Shun? He knows how to dance.

The thing he starts doing with his chest around 2:10 is some Exorcist-level shit. (via digg)

Difficult ballet moves in slow motion

posted by Jason Kottke   May 29, 2014

Professional dancers from the Washington Ballet show off their most difficult moves, filmed in slow motion.

(via colossal)

The Heather Project

posted by Jason Kottke   May 04, 2014

Heather Project

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)

Folk dancing sorts

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 24, 2014

Programming sorting techniques visualized through Eastern European folk dancing. For instance, here’s the bubble sort with Hungarian dancing:

See also sorting algorithms visualized. (via @viljavarasto)

The origins of the moonwalk

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 23, 2014

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 A-to-Z of dance

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 07, 2014

Super-cool video from i-D of dance styles for each letter of the alphabet.

(via @Han)

Tractor square dancing

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 31, 2014

Tractor Square Dancing

Nothing is more American than tractor square dancing.

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.

Amazing new robot dances to dubstep

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 01, 2013

It’s not up on their web site or YouTube yet, but I’m pretty sure this is a prototype of a new dancing robot built by Boston Dynamics, makers of the Big Dog, Cheetah, and Petman robots.

Looks similar to Atlas or Petman, but way more advanced…how did they pack all of the circuitry and power supplies into such a small yet realistic-looking housing? (via devour)

How to learn how to dance in a year

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 10, 2013

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.

(via hacker news)

Ken Crosgrove dancing + Daft Punk

posted by Jason Kottke   May 23, 2013

[SORTA MAD MEN SPOILERS! but not really] I don’t know if Ken Crosgrove dancing on the latest episode of Mad Men is the best thing that’s ever been on the show, but it’s definitely in the top 10. And it might be even better with a little Daft Punk.

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.)

Crazy dancing

posted by Aaron Cohen   Aug 16, 2012

Excuse the dubstep if you must, but Marquese Scott is amazing. Previously.

(via the high definite)

Dubstep tap dancing

posted by Aaron Cohen   May 04, 2012

“TapTronic is a progressive fusion of Irish dance and electronic music.” Dancing starts at 40 seconds.

(via The Daily What)

Tron dance party

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 15, 2012

A dance crew performs while wearing Tron-like outfits in total darkness. It’s like a wearable laser light show.

(thx, tuomas)

Holy Jesus, look at what this ballerina can do!

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 11, 2012

I have rarely in my life seen something as physically impressive as this performance of Swan Lake:

It’s not just what she does, it’s how rock-still she is while doing it. Just, wow. (via ★interesting)