Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Evolution of Dance in Music Videos

For a dancer, music is one of the most important aspects of the art of dance. It moves us and challenges us. It births new ideas and brings forth choreographic expression. In the 1980s, music became more than simply something to listen to and became something to watch. Music videos, made popular by Music Television (MTV), enhanced the music by adding either a story line, symbolism, and/or dancing while making the song itself more well-known to the viewing public. Although today there are music videos that incorporate dance, it is a trend that today’s music videos are straying away from the more technical and original aspects of dance seen in the past.

"Straight Up" -Paula Abdul

Paula Abdul, the winner of the first MTV Video Music Award for Best Dance Video “Straight Up”, is a great example of how to incorporate fun and innovative dance technique and choreography. This video was more or less focused mainly on the dancing itself. It even includes tap dancing as well as jazz! Other past artists are similar to Abdul with their great approach of incorporating a lot of dance in their videos such as Madonna, Prince, Ricky Martin, and one of the best examples of dance in music videos, Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson took music videos to a whole other level with developed story lines and intense dancing in his videos such as “Thriller”, “Scream”, and “Beat It.”

Today’s videos do not involve as much dance as in the 80s and 90s. Rap stars typically sit in a club and throw money at strippers, show off their cars, and pour champagne on the floor. Punk stars are either more into making their videos artistic or more about showcasing the band and the performance. But some pop stars do a great job incorporating dance into their music videos. N*Sync, Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Janet Jackson, and the latest winner of the MTV Video Music Award for Best Dance Video the Pussycat Dolls. Danity Kane is one of the newer girl groups that focuses a lot on incorporating dance into their music videos. Their music videos "Bad Girl" and "Damaged" utilize creative forms of hip-hop. All of these are the videos that interest me. Perhaps I am biased because I am a dancer, but from an outsider’s perspective I strongly believe that these dance videos are more intriguing and entertaining than strippers, cars, and instruments.

"Bad Girl" -Danity Kane

Dancers in today’s world already have limited access to dance jobs. Dancing in a music video with a top artist is a huge honor to most dancers in the commercial world, but the amount of dance videos being produced today cannot suffice the want that dancers have to be in them. Thanks to artists such as Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Janet Jackson, and the like, dancers have a chance to perform some of the best and most innovative choreography alongside some of the greatest professionals in the industry. So as we move into the future, it is important for aspiring choreographers to stress the importance of dance in music videos, as well as the dancers’ initiative to keep pushing themselves in their training. The future of music videos holds a lot of promising ideas that are well within reach of aspiring chorographers, dancers, and artists alike.

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