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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.





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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

entry arrow2:49 PM | Dancing Around the World

The New York Times is right. This series of videos -- Matt Harding's YouTube hit "Dancing" -- is ridiculously, unfathomably charming and inspiring...





Charles McGrath writes:

The title is not misleading. "Dancing" shows a guy dancing: a big, doughy-looking fellow in shorts and hiking boots performing an arm-swinging, knee-pumping step that could charitably be called goofy. It’s the kind of semi-ironic dance that boys do by themselves at junior high mixers when they’re too embarrassed to partner with actual girls.

The dancer is Matt Harding, the 31-year-old creator of the video, and with some New Agey-sounding music playing in the background, he turns up, grinning and bouncing, in 69 different locations, including India, Kuwait, Bhutan, Tonga, Timbuktu and the Nellis Airspace in Nevada, where he performs the dance in zero gravity.

He started doing it at work, years ago, when he was living in Brisbane, Australia. “I’d dance at lunchtime or during an awkward pause or just to annoy people,” Mr. Harding said. “It was sort of a nervous tic.”

Now he’s on the streets in Mumbai one minute, balanced on the Giant’s Causeway rock formation in Northern Ireland the next, and then he’s in a tulip field in the Netherlands or in front of a geyser in Iceland. Sometimes Mr. Harding dances alone. On a Christmas Island beach he has an audience of crabs, and on Madagascar he performs for lemurs.

But more often — and this accounts for much of the video’s appeal — he’s in the company of others: South African street children in Soweto, bushmen in New Guinea, Bollywood-style dancers in India, some oddly costumed waitresses in Tokyo, crowds of free spirits in Paris, Madrid and rainy Montreal, all copying, or trying to, his flailing chicken-step. Mr. Harding even dances for a lone military policeman (unmoved to join him) in the Korean demilitarized zone.

In many ways “Dancing” is an almost perfect piece of Internet art: it’s short, pleasingly weird and so minimal in its content that it’s open to a multitude of interpretations. It could be a little commercial for one-world feel-goodism. It could be an allegory of American foreign policy: a bumptious foreigner turning up all over the world and answering just to his own inner music. Or it could be about nothing at all — just a guy dancing.

However you interpret it, you can’t watch “Dancing” for very long without feeling a little happier.

I don't think I have the nerve to do something like this, but hurrah to Matt and all white boys like him who can't dance -- but have a helluva time making us smile.

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