The Torrance Community Dance Group
performance for the song Praise You by Fatboy Slim
Praise You, which made number one in UK charts in 1999, is built around a vocal sample from an early blues recording called ‘ Take Yo ’ praise ’ by Camille Yarbrough. It besides features four other samples ( Fatboy Slim should get an award for all that recycling ! )
Out of all these disparate elements Fatboy ( not his very name ! ) has created a miniskirt pop masterpiece which is catchy, soporific and funky. however, arsenic good as it is, I ’ thousand not here to talk about the music – it ’ s the video which very inspires me. Step forward the American film director, producer and actor Spike Jonze ( who recently directed the film ‘ Where the Wild Things Are ’ ). It was he who came up with the concept, choreographed and led the dancing in the television. It was made guerrilla-style ( i.e. without license to film from the property owners ) in battlefront of at a loss onlookers outside a movie theater in Westwood, California. The television reportedly cost merely $ 800 to produce, with most of that money going towards a surrogate boombox and food for the form and crew. It won three major awards at the 1999 MTV video awards.
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Whenever I watch this video ( and I have done many times ! ) I find a smile creeping across my face which tends to linger retentive after it finishes. I have been pondering why this is ; what is it about this naff small dance routine which engenders such rejoice ? I think it is partially its uninhibited childlikeness – there is a glorious smell of abandon in the dance which is amplified by the fact that there is a hale group of people ( of all ages ) ‘ letting go ’ together. In the sheer absurdity of the moves ( spot the backward swimming pisces ! ) it is unashamedly nerdy ; in fact it is going out of its way to push the boundaries of nerdiness, about belligerently refusing to be cool. * ironically, It has achieved this so successfully that its uncoolness has turned wax circle and becomes cool ( you can find early groups copying the same act on You Tube ). possibly this is the revenge of the nerds on a earth where the inability to do ‘ proper ’ dance has always left them standing on the border of the dancefloor. This performance about seems to be openly mocking ‘ proper ’ dance forms which take themselves so badly. Watch cautiously and you ’ ll notice elements of ballet ( when Jonze awkwardly lifts up the girls in a make-believe jette ), line dancing, ( when they all tune up and do a simple small kick with arm swing ) and last beat box ( when Jonze steps outside of the choreography for his addict out section and about blow into a bemused line up filmgoer ). As he leaps about like a windmill having a fit you feel like he is going to fall over at any moment, and he very about does. This seems to be a metaphor for the whole performance : it could have thus easily have fallen flat on its face but somehow it not lone manages to keep on its feet but besides takes off in flights of creative magnificence. Thank you Mr Slim, Mr Jonze and all the other dancers for bringing such rejoice with your terribly brilliant dance act .
* I can ’ t help thinking that David Byrne ’ s dancing in his fantastic television for Stop Making Sense is the spiritual godfather to this ‘ swot dancing ’ .