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Response 5 - Dad Dancing


Dear Alan,

Thanks for Task 5 and the opportunity to do some choreographing. I have tried to take on board your comments about how to use the parameters not only as guidelines but as constraints. I am still figuring out exactly how to do this and negotiate this within my own artistic interests. For Two trainers Prepare Maria Kapsali and I were mainly using the tasks as an entry point into an exploration not as an end point in itself. So it is a new way for me to work, to focus on satisfying the parameters rather than following my own creative instinct to resolve the instructions. I am not sure if I have yet found out how to do this in my own way where it feels true to my practice. As your task requests, I have choreographed a dance – or at least created with the help from a few experts – which you will be able to find in a video below. But first I want to ponder the term ‘dad dancing’.

Is dad dancing ‘embarrassing(ly) flamboyant’? I was curious to find out so I went down a rabbit hole of Youtube videos expecting to find compilations of middle-aged men lazily ‘bobbing up and down’ with no sense of rhythm. There were a few of those, of course, but the variety of movements and styles was surprising and I began to feel that the preconceptions were unfair. Why do dads get a hard time about their dancing? Is it that dancing ‘is for girls’ and that men (of a certain age and position) should not dance? Is it that we need to shame dads for enjoying free expression of body movement because it jeopardises our perception of them as responsible and rational? I am not sure if these are very profound questions but my trip down the rabbit hole challenged my own prejudice on dad dancing. The clips I found were perhaps comical or inelegant but the dancing was honest and genuine and no less embarrassingly flamboyant than other dancing by untrained individuals of any gender. It made me think that spontaneous dancing unites people across ages, genders, status and skills through playfulness and the joy of self-expression of the body, and this is precisely why I treasure the moments we spend together dancing as a family.

After this realisation, your instructions for me to choreograph ‘dad dancing’ opened up the possibility of using any type of movement. I came to the conclusion that there is nothing inherently ‘dad like’ in specific ways of moving, so my task, I decided, was to choreograph not dad movements but moves performablefor a dad. I was interested in thinking of the moves we absorb from the videos we watch and dance to. How much of Michael Jackson’s distinct movement style comes through when we dance around the kitchen? No too much I suspect but I like the idea that ‘dad dancing’ is an imitation of some of these moves. The parameters I set for myself for the choreography were derived from these considerations:

  • Alan has to be able to perform the choreography so no head spins or complex sequences requiring the coordination of a trained dancer
  • The choreography must fit the kitchen space where our family dancing often takes place so no wild leaps, kicks or running
  • Steps/moves must be borrowed/adapted from the dancing in music videos of the artists mentioned in Task 5: Madonna, Michael Jackson, Beyoncé and Talking Heads. The dance moves must be performed by the artist themselves in the video.

To avoid imposing my own interpretation of the movements (and because they would be unrecognisable when executed by me), I appropriated choreographic clips directly from the source for the instruction video. Before you play it, below, please have Madonna’s ‘Hung Up’ ready to play! I hope you enjoy it and would love to see you have a go at trying the choreography.

See here for next task.