Music and dancing go hand in hand. Music makes people want to dance – whether they’re in the shower, on the street or at a club. People dance however they feel like, freestyle if you will. Choreography on the other hand is a whole different ball game. It’s a series of co-ordinated movements specific to a song. We see it in music videos, dance competitions (ie So You Think You Can Dance) and live performances. Everyone feels a little bit like a superstar when they can keep up with the choreography of a song – be it while watching a music video at home or just knowing the steps to a certain dance. But how do these choreographed moves impact the popularity of a song?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Choreography can show up in music in so many ways. One way is when the entire song itself is choreography. Take “Macarena” by Los Del Rio. Everyone associates this song with the hand movements and shaking of the hips, which have nothing to do with the song itself, but somehow creates a familiarity between people and the song. When we hear it we automatically start the dance, because we feel like they’re connected. We feel like a part of the song, like we’re part of an inside joke, and let’s face it who doesn’t like to feel included? Same thing goes for songs like Soulja Boy’s “Crank That” – the dance is completely irrelevant to the song, yet when people hear it they go nuts and try and re-create the steps and all of a sudden there’s a sea of synchronized amateur dancers on the floor.

There are also songs like Cali Swag District’s “Teach Me How to Dougie” or even Soca Boys’ “Follow the Leader” where they actually direct you on the steps – when to walk left, when to walk right, where to put your hands. These songs separate from the dance moves are completely ridiculous, but people love it because like I said, everyone feels a little famous when they can participate in a dance routine.

Choreography also plays a large role in the music video. Michael Jackson has signature moves in so many of his videos from “Bad” to “Billie Jean” to “Smooth Criminal.” Through his videos and extended dance sequences, fans appreciate him as a dancer as much as a musician. He uses his music videos as a medium to showcase his dance abilities. In the video for “Thriller”, there’s a whole extended dance sequence with zombies and all dancing in sync. This routine has been used at weddings, during dance competitions and even in movies (13 Going on 30, off the top of my head). “Thriller” is a great song with or without the dance moves, but this just adds to it and once again creates a deeper connection between the audience and song – if they can mimic the moves, they automatically feel a part of it.

Same applies for Beyonce’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on it.)” When anyone talks about the song, they always comment on the greatness of the video and choreography. It’s entertaining and people want to be able to copy those moves. Even celebrities including Joe Jonas have re-enacted the video, leotard and all. In these cases, compared to the previous ones, the songs themselves are able to stand on their own, but the choreography only adds to them, making them that much more enjoyable.

Which leads me to the last variation of choreography. The kind where it’s not pre-existing but people make it up and it becomes so popular, that it almost turns into the dance for that song. Classic example:  Imran Khan. For those unfamiliar with him, he’s an Indian singer about as close to hip-hop/r&b as Indian singers can get. He’s incredibly famous in North America and his songs have brought out bromances in ways I’ve never witnessed before.

Allow me to set the stage: I was attending a friend’s engagement party and it’s approximately 2am. The party had moved to the basement due to too much noise and here there were no rules. By this time the crowd had dwindled and only a select few were lucky enough to remain and be a part of history, only they didn’t know it yet. There are about eight boys still standing and therefore eight ladies waiting for the night to wind down so they can drive their intoxicated brothers/fiances/boyfriends/friends home (what year is it again?). During about the 19th time the song “Amplifier” was played, someone decided to place a rather large bottle of alcohol on the floor while the boys danced around it, periodically taking swigs out of it – how manly of them. Insert eye roll here. And this continued. For a while. It even progressed to certain dance moves being done repeatedly and in unison, almost like they finally figured out the perfect way to express their love for alcohol, the song and each other, in the form of choreography. The night finally came to an end hours later and I thought this would be the last of such behaviour. Boy was I wrong.

The impact of this evening didn’t hit me until I heard this song at a wedding (and all that have followed since that night) attended by all these boys. It’s like this song is their mating call. Or like one of those whistles only dogs can hear because it’s at a certain frequency. No matter where they are in the building, they hear it. Their ears perk up, they immediately stop what they’re doing (including leaving mid-sentence during a conversation) and flock to the dance floor. Someone brings a bottle of anything, and it starts all over again. The more I observe it, the more tribal it seems. Like a worship dance to the bottle on the floor and each other. The moves consist of dancing around in a circle, gazing into each others’ eyes, pelvic thrusts and gyrations. Every once in a while, someone does a solo to everyone’s amazement and they all cheer. The song is about something along the lines of comparing a relationship to amplifiers and subwoofers and this choreography has nothing to do with that – it’s about the camaraderie, the bromance, the feeling that they all belong to something. As far as I’ve seen, and it’s been almost a year’s worth of weddings to back me up, this comportment is unique to this specific group of boys. And no one else will ever get it.

Dancing will always be a part of music, they will always compliment each other. Choreography is just another way of expressing the emotions of the song; using how the song makes you feel, and translating it into dance moves. Everyone will interpret that differently but what a choreographed sequence made for a particular song will do is create a unity, a commonality, an instant friendship amongst people because they are all part of the same thing. No matter which way you look at it, choreography not only adds to a song’s popularity, it amplifies it.

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Comments
  1. Anonymous says:

    OMG. aneesha! you captured it so perfectly. truly is a whistle only these dog-boys can hear . . . and flock to the dance floor to start their tribal dance. LOL. – monika

  2. K says:

    Lololol ok I need to meet these people so I can see this dance, most excitement I've had all month!!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Interesting insight into individual's wanting to participate in choreographed dances to feel "famous" for a moment and part of something bigger than themselves. Makes me think of the popularity of "flash dances" (I believe that's what they are called) that take place in public settings 🙂 -R

  4. Neesh says:

    I was totally gonna mention "flash dances" but clearly forgot to…

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