Monday, 20 December 2010

This Week's Picks (#24)

The next several series of This Week's Picks are inspired by an often overlooked important aspect of music: the visual. Music is almost always accompanied by costumes, dress, dance, makeup, and/or theatre. The visual can be as simple as a pair of shades on a blues singer or as elaborate as the grand performances of Japanese kabuki theatre.

Last week, we featured theatrical music. This week, our picks will focus on dance from around the world. Please enjoy!

Spanish Flamenco

I cannot help but start with one of my favorite dances. This is not only my some of my favorite music to listen to, but my favorite to watch in action. Flamenco is thought of as three separate parts- the song, the dance and the guitar. When they come together, you experience raw emotion in both the visual and aural senses. Originating in Southern Spain, it has become a cultural symbol of the entire country. The dance is known for it's emotional intensity, power of expression and proud stature.

Lezginka from the Caucasus

Having seen the Azerbaijani version of this dance last year, I have been enthralled ever since. This video is of the men's dance which is far more energetic and, frankly, more entertaining than the female counterpoint. The men spin, twirl and jump in athletic displays that are fun to watch. The women dance gracefully in elaborate costumes, appearing to float across the floor.

South African Gum Boot Dance

This dance is different in that the musical accompaniment comes from the dance itself. It is a dance performed by dancers wearing gum boots who rhythmically stomp, clap, and slap. The dance was created by gold mine workers in South Africa who were banned from speaking to each other. The dance was not only a means of communication, but a way to keep their spirits alive during the terrible years of the apartheid. It has since evolved into an art form.

Please keep in mind that there are many, many dances and I can only feature a choice few in my series. If I've missed something that you enjoy, please leave a comment below with links to any videos you can find for everyone to enjoy!

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