“Taekwondo Shuffle”

There’s a wonderful video circulating Facebook and some mainstream media blogs (FOX and CBS) which shows an outdoor performance by a group of young Koreans showcasing their mastery of Taekwondo as well as their choreographic skills. No one seems to have information on who they are or what the purpose of the display was, so if anyone knows, comment here and fill us in!

It’s being referred to as the “Taekwondo Shuffle” because the footage begins with the music and basic step (a “shuffle”) from the music video of this summer’s big hit “Party Rock Anthem” by the group LMFAO. While doing the shuffle step (which to my eyes is a miniaturized running man), the performers go through some of the arm motions used in Taekwondo training sequences.

If by some chance you haven’t seen it, here’s the LMFAO video, featuring Quest Crew, winners of the third season of America’s Best Dance Crew. Check out their website and YouTube channel.

But actually the majority of the video displays a choreographed sequence of different members of the group breaking boards with different kicks, aerial moves, and spins. This is a demonstration of ‘speed breaking,’ where the ability demonstrated is that of speed and precision, in contrast to ‘power breaking,’ where the goal is breaking as thick an obstacle as possible. Read more about Taekwondo history and techniques here or at the World Taekwondo Federation website.

What I love about this performance is the variety of movement sources and performance, as well as the well coordinated use of space, levels, and all members of the group. Having no expertise on Taekwondo I can’t pass any judgment on their completion of the moves attempted, but it is visually arresting and wonderful (and interesting, and not without problems) to see the combination of social, participatory dance forms with martial arts techniques performed in a presentational manner.

It’s also interesting to think about this choreographic display of martial techniques and movement lexicon in relation to Tricking, the dance/acrobatic form that runs just tangential to B-boying, gymnastics, and martial arts, and borrows and lends to all of them. Below is the YakFilms footage of the Tricking/Trix battle at this year’s Onde 2 Choc in Paris. You’ll see influences from and variations on classic gymnastic’s tumbling routines, B-boying’s power moves, Capoeira‘s flips, spins, and kicks, and similar moves performed more in line with the aesthetics of Asian martial arts.

As you can see, the performances captured in the two videos have a lot in common. Of course the Battle setting is very different from a public group performance, but the movement vocabulary is nonetheless very similar. It’s interesting to think, what’s the difference in the finished product between the two integrations of martial arts vocabulary into dance syntax?

Beggin’ Re-edits: Pilooski vs. Madcon

So, here’s the deal; one amazing Frankie Valli song, “Beggin'”: two quite excellent re-mixes/re-envisionings (read about the various re-incarnations of the song here) which each have quite excellent videos. So, which is better?

I was introduced to the Pilooski re-edit first (the top video), and fell in love with it. The song is precisely a re-edit; there is nothing new, but elements are re-arranged, repeated, and adjusted. The video, which has since dissappeared from YouTube in its official (and good quality!) version, is brilliant. Through setting, costume, and choreography, it traces the intervening years and influences between the Four Season’s version and the world that gave birth to Pilooski and DJing. Watch for subtle changes in costume as well as lighting and choreography- look for the twist, disco, locking, b-boying, and good ol’ rockin’ out.  Don’t forget to check out the DJs in the back- they change too!

Because I was so attached to the Pilooski version, my initial reaction to the Madcon version was adverse. But on its own it is really quite good too. It has a strong aesthetic playing off of the films of the era of Blaxploitation, complete with bell bottoms and afros, and features strong rap verses, using the original song as the hook and building off of it. One ‘plot’ element I don’t really understand is that of the video games. I interpret this as a similar tactic to the contemporary elements in the Pilooski video; because the original song is ‘vintage’ the new version must distinguish itself from that label (although clearly each video has an affinity for some nostalgic past, both of which are more than a little anachronistic, especially the Madcon vid). However, the video game thing just doesn’t work for me.

In the end, I think I still like the Pilooski vid/song better. I think this may also have to do with the fact that Pilooski’s video appeared first, and has since been removed (I suppose for copyright purposes?) while Madcon’s video is hosted by VEVO. But they both are very good. Unfortunately, and characteristically, I cannot find information about the directors or choreographers of either video, so they both lose points for that!

What do YOU think? Let me know in the comments below.

Sunday Drivers “My Plan”

This is a great video featuring synchronized swimming! I stumbled onto it a couple years ago and have re-visted every once and a while since then. The song itself is a treat- it feels to me like a Cole Porter song phonograph style re-interpreted as punk. The video is a real gem as well, pairing the nostalgic feel of a Busby Berkeley-like synchronized swimming with au-courant vibrant colors and attitude. I especially love the use of the balloons, and the extended diving sequence at the end is a model for screen/film/video dance (or swimming): the medium should be used to make possible–and, to a certain extent, believable–something which would otherwise be impossible.

Director: Tania Verduzco
Director of Photography: Francesca Noia
Camera: Andalu v.s.j