How would I learn to do this dance?
January 5, 2019 8:46 PM   Subscribe

I want to dance like this (Genghis Khan, Miike Snow). I mean both the specific and generally. Would this be possible by someone that is essentially a dance novice, to do in my spare time?

I am only recently (the past year) discovering in my early 40s that I love to dance. But I have no actual formal dancing experience. I go to bars/clubs on occasion, and more likely, I dance at home with my music turned up, like a lot. But of course its really just me doing my best to move how I feel as opposed to any sort of formalized dance attempt.

Over the years, I've seen dancing like the linked video, and always thought how joyful it would be if I could do it. Even before I got my own feet moving. Seeing this video for the first time, I have a new obsession. I want to learn to dance like this. I'd like to SPECIFICALLY learn the dance shown in the video. But more generally, I want to learn to dance like this. And I want to know where regular people use these kind of choreographed dance moves. Do they?

Is there any hope for someone who would be just starting to learn? Where would one go to start? I know youtube does have how to dance videos, but honestly, I never know where to start. Is it possible to achieve a moderate prowess at my age that dance like that would be within my grasp?

(I am starting a salsa class in a month putting on by the local park and rec. But that was more a "I would like to get better and ANY dancing" stab in the dark.)
posted by [insert clever name here] to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (12 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
This looks like jazz or modern style - many dance studios offer adult jazz dance classes where you would learn a whole choreographed dance number like that each season and then do a recital.

Also maybe consider musical theater? It seems like Fosse choreography would be up your alley.
posted by thelastpolarbear at 9:00 PM on January 5 [1 favorite]

OP is there a specific part of the video you're referring to? I see some pretty different styles in the video. The first major dance solo around 1:23 looks like it's closer to contemporary dance (which has it's roots in Modern and Jazz), the duet around 2:45 looks a lot more like Musical style - which is tap, Jazz and Fosse. Think Singin' in the Rain.

But yes, you can absolutely learn to dance like this. I'd look up adult dance classes in your area, or even dance classes at a local community college. You can't really go wrong with Modern for a start.

Once you get in class, approach the teacher and ask if they'd be willing to break down the choreography you're interested in as part of a private lesson and what their rates are. Many teachers are willing to.
posted by Pretty Good Talker at 9:40 PM on January 5

I can tell you that the stuff starting around 2:58 is a Shorty George followed by some exaggerated Charleston basic. I think the type of dance class that would give you the most coverage is probably Jazz dance; the choreography also has elements of waltz / other partner dancing around 2:39.
posted by batter_my_heart at 9:42 PM on January 5 [2 favorites]

That video is incredibly delightful and I'd never seen it; thanks for posting!
Agree that the duet is Musical Theatre inspired.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 2:40 AM on January 6 [4 favorites]

If it helps you at all (maybe finding more clips, etc.) the choreographer for your video was Supple Nam.
posted by taz at 5:57 AM on January 6

I don't have anything to offer for your larger question, but I, a non-dancer, have occasionally had to learn choreography both under the guidance of a choreographer and from a video, and I'm happy to share how I did the latter for what it's worth.

It's not as complete or detailed as the dance in the video you linked, but for Valentines Day one year I learned this dance (I had to choreograph my own moves during the reaction shots) and did it for my sweetie.

I made up names for each move that were descriptive and sort of matched the rhythm of the move, and made a list. That enabled me to work on memorizing the overall sequence even if I couldn't practice the moves. That became an inner monolog that guided me through the whole sequence.

When I had time and space I set up a video camera and recorded my practice so I could adjust my moves to more closely match the original, and to make sure I didn't have a "thinking too hard" facial expression.

Then it was just practice, practice, practice.

I didn't execute it perfectly when I did it for her, but I kept smiling and kept moving, so it was all fine.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 6:50 AM on January 6 [2 favorites]

Maybe you can take lessons from Jimmy Jr.
posted by nosila at 6:51 AM on January 6

There are probably ballroom dance classes in your area, it's a great way to learn the basics and to learn to listen to music to hear the dance beat. Modern and Jazz classes will have broad styles depending on the teacher, but learning to dance in one style helps you learn to dancer in general. Great video, thanks for posting.
posted by theora55 at 8:06 AM on January 6

OP is there a specific part of the video you're referring to?

The whole thing. In an ideal world, I’ll find a partner in crime to do as much of the dancing parts as possible. Without the background of the villain’s secret layer, finding a partner to do this with me. But I kinda want to learn both parts as well. Example, I probably lean towards the villain’s part, but love the hero’s walk down the stairs.

I can tell you that the stuff starting around 2:58 is a Shorty George followed by some exaggerated Charleston basic.

Thank you for this! The second link is the same. But this helped me see the elements in the dance here. If you (or anyone else) has a good breakdown of the other dance moves, I would love it; it would give me a start to try at home.

I also must add, I just saw this video posted to a comment in metafilter this weekend, so don’t thank me! I don’t remember which thread; but someone else deserves the thanking.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 9:59 AM on January 7

Ah, sorry, here's the link -- this is the same guy, now teaching the Charleston basic.

Here's a stream-of-consciousness list of "steps," aka what I would call them in my head if I had to learn this.

turn over right shoulder, walk walk walk turn cross syncopate
turn cross syncopate

(dinner table scene)
(sitting in bed)

angry turns into pounding arm circles
side and side with slight body roll no no
turn turn turn arm circle forward to kneeling
stomp jump, kick

(pound the wall)(more angry spirited gestures)(victim is on the bed, victim gets loose)

jazz hand step touch down stairs
bouncy stride, v-waltz turns
peekaboo into almost cha cha chasse / fencing walks
contact improv leap
body roll up, jump into kick
wave arms into curtsy, unwind into jazz section
(at 2:51 you can probably think of this as a charleston basic with points to the side instead kicking forwards / backwards)

(back with the kids)
shorty george
kicks, spin kicks, armsy run offstage

passe drag into holding-weight lunge into chest bump

There are probably two ways to attack this -- one is to get the movement fundamentals: learn to turn, get the flexibility to kick high, learn to kneel / get to the ground with control, etc.

But also integral to this dance is the silly rage and commitment to the emotion, and I think you will get quite far by just walking everything with rhythm, expressing the glee / rage, and filling in the details as they come.
posted by batter_my_heart at 1:48 AM on January 8 [3 favorites]

I just want to say, you can totally accomplish this with practice! I love on the north side of Chicago, so if your profile is correct, we almost live close enough that I could help. But encouragement I have in spades, if you ever need it.

I don't know if you follow Jonathan Van Ness from Queer Eye, but he just took up figure skating and posts about it a lot on his insta -- it's been amazing to see how much progress a lot of practice and passion can bring!
posted by freezer cake at 1:51 PM on January 8

One thing that makes this dance so awesome is that they're not just dancing- they're ACTING.

There are clear intentions behind the moves, and each move has a desired effect on the other character: to show off my power, to look virile, to intimidate him, to threaten him, to decide what to do, to hold off the minions, to charm, to flirt, to seduce, to connect, to re-enact the history of our relationship, to move into a joyful new synchronicity, to fall in love, to become partners. They're not just moving their bodies in some choreographed ways- they're working to have an effect on the other person. That's good acting.

And the two dancers have VERY strong individual characters - which is why, in the paired parts of the dance, they don't do the moves exactly the same way. GoldNose is obviously a great dancer but true to his character, he executes the moves in a more powerful, messy, muscular way; Bond's version of the same moves are more delicate, his posture more lifted, and his form more refined.

So if you learn this dance or any other paired dance, you can make it awesomer (and easier to remember) by making sure each move is designed to have a specific effect on your scene partner. Make sure to make strong eye contact and mentally do things TO/FOR your partner- don't just move around.

In addition to naming the physical moves like "step, turn, arms, jump" or whatever, you can give each move an emotional action- like GoldNose's early moves might be something like "I'm strong & virile, look at me!" or Bond's stairs descent might be "I'm nervous but I have to try!" That'll help bring the moves to life.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 11:59 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]

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