VMA 2012 Winners!

For a full rundown of winners across categories, check the MTV site, here. To read my thoughts on the nominees for Best Choreography, go here. I’m not going to get into comments about the actual presentation…suffice it to say it was odd. But anyway,

Best Choreography

went to Chris Brown’s “Turn Up the Music” with choreography by Anwar ‘Flii’ Burton. That was my second place choice, so I’m ok with it. The video also won Best Male Video, and I mean, it’s a fine video, but I don’t find it particularly fascinating or innovative…

Other notables (to me):

Best Editing: Alexander Hammer & Jeremiah Shuff for “Countdown”

Assessment: I have to say I’m a little surprised. On the one hand, the editing is definitely pervasive, at a high difficulty level, and pretty smoothly done. If we’re talking literally who cut things together skillfully, I’m ok. If we’re talking: has a defined coherent cohesive aesthetic…I’m not so sure.

Hilarious Tidbit: In an interview with GQ, “Countdown” director Adria Perry responded to questions about the use of de Keersmaeker’s choreography in part by saying, “Of course, ultimately I’m disappointed that she wasn’t credited on the video because I know it was everyone’s intention from the get-go. But I’m assuming that’s because they were still finishing it the day that it launched and stuff, it was basically an oversight, you know?” [italics added]…note to self, I can finish something at the last minute and still win an award…

It’s weird as all get out, but the editing prowess by Eric Greenburg on “Mercy” by Kanye West, f/ Big Sean, Pusha T, and 2 Chainz is extremely impressive. The editing is so seamless and mind-boggling it makes me a little nauseous, but in a good way (?). For me either “Mercy” or “Somebody That I Used to Know” (see below) would have been good. I think Kanye is still a little bit persona non grata at the VMAs however. Like last year, he got a lot of nods but no wins. Check it out below if you haven’t seen it:

Best Cinematographer/Best Direction: M.I.A. “Bad Girls” cinematography by André Chemetoff, directed by Romain Gavras

Assessment: My chain hits my chest when I’m banging on the dashboard/My chain hits my chest when I’m banging on the radio. –I freaking love this video, in a visceral, the beat is hard, the dessert is hot, she’s filing her nails on the edge of a drifting car type way. It too (like “Where Have You Been”) trades in an Orientalist mish-mosh made possible by M.I.A.’s relative position of power…but I kind of love it. It’s certainly visually stunning and aesthetically cohesive and convincing. I’ve got a post about it sitting in drafts…hopefully I’ll get it out someday.

To be honest, there were a lot of videos nominated across the different categories that I wasn’t familiar with…I guess reading for grad school will do that to you. So, over the next few days I’m going to familiarize myself with the nominees and try to stay more on top of things. I have to say I’m a little dissapointed that the video for Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know” didn’t win anything. It was nominated for Most Share-Worthy, Best Editing, and Video of the Year. Not only do I think it’s a gorgeous and innovative concept, but the sheer time-consuming detailed collaborative work that clearly went into it is amazing. Also I am hugely appreciative and admiring of the fact that the whole production team is credited by name in the description box under the YouTube video. Go here to see it!

Thanks for reading, stay tuned! What did you think about the results?

VMA’s 2012–Best Choreography

[Update: Want to know who won? See my post-show assessment here]

Hey! Important event in popular dance tonight—the VMA’s, MTV’s annual music video award show. There’s about 16 categories, so I’m not going to go through all of them, but I thought I’d run you through the 5 videos (well, actually their choreographers) that were nominated for “Best Choreography in a Music Video.” You can see the rundown here.

I’m on my way to a friend’s house to watch the show, so this is just a quick run-through. A little history: the VMA’s started in 1984, and the Choreography category has been awarded every year since (other categories have come and gone.) Michael Jackson’s Thriller (Choreography by Michael Peters) won the first year, and a range of choreographic styles have won since then. See all the winners here.


Performer: Avicii Choreography: Richy Greenfield & Petros Papahadjopoulos Summary: Bored 80s office worker is overcome by energy wavin’ poppin’ and lockin’ through his body + dorky toprock, and guess what, it’s contagious. Surprise: Non-dance surreal lyric interlude. References: Napolean Dynamite, Michael Jackson Big Q: Is freestyling choreography?


Performer: Beyoncé Choreography: Danielle Polanco, Frank Gatson Jr., Beyoncé & Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker (<–DOES ANYONE SEE THAT?!?! Check here and here to see why I’m shocked but it’s a pragmatic move) Thoughts: I have a hard time thinking about this video; on one hand it’s totally incoherent as its own aesthetic production, on the other hand the original de Keersmaeker choreography is on beyond gorgeous…I think one of my friends put this perfectly; “Countdown” belongs in the ‘adapted screenplay’ category, not ‘original’ (although I’m not sure they adapted it all that effectively…)

“Turn Up the Music

Performer: Chris Brown Choreography: Anwar ‘Flii’ Burton Summary: Chris Brown takes a futuristic cab to a dance party in the street…and other ambiguous music video spaces. Styles: Unison House/New Jack Swing plus that Afro-Carribean elasticity swag that all the cool kids are doing. References: MJ meets Usher meets Men In Black meets Gene Kelly. Verdict:  Impressively high energy, very of-the-moment, virtuosic performance. 

“Dance Again”

Performer: Jennifer Lopez f/ Pitbull Choreography: JR Taylor Summary: Orgiastic art deco meets the title scene of GoldfingerVerdict: Wait, there was choreography? Oh, you mean the awkward Dancesport moment in the middle? Big Q: How do you evaluate choreography if the dancing is terrible? But seriously, the mass squirming is way more gorgeous than any of the ‘dancing’…and I like JLo. Sidenote:  the ads that play before this video are always in Spanish!


“Where Have You Been”

Performer: Rihanna Choreography: Hi-Hat (amazing and prolific) Summary: Rihanna as Mami Wata/Orientalist wet dream. Styles: Hip/House, the afro-funk styles like Kwaito, Azonto, Kuduro, with hints of Belly Dance and traditional West African movement; it gets into the hip flexors in the lushest most fantastic range of motion. References: Anaconda, Indiana Jones, Indian and Aboriginal iconography. Big Q: I’ve been meaning to write about this for a long time and there’s a lot to say, but briefly put, can essentialist and exotic symbolism and iconography be reclaimed reproductively by/for postcolonial bodies?


Despite some political hesitations, I pick “Where have You Been”–most innovative, varied, rich choreography, and the most well performed (although I know that’s technically not the category.) 

What do you think!? We’ll find out soon. Happy Watching!

[Update: Want to know who won? See my post-show assessment here]