A flash mob at Palais des Beaux-Arts Lille

I first became interested in dance flash mobs when I saw Colleen Dunagan (Associate Professor of Dance at California State University, Long Beach) give a presentation discussing the Black Eyed Peas and Oprah Winfrey ‘I Gotta Feeling’ flash mob of 2009.  In this powerfully emotive example of mass popular dance choreography it appears as if the entire crowd who are attending the live outdoor show are instantly transformed (perhaps by the power of popular dance?) into individuals who can count along with the music, remember long sequences of movement and generally perform like a company of trained dancers… Except they were.  For this amazing flash mob the participants were first auditioned and then required to attend 10 hours of rehearsals.  Does this matter?  The power of this flash mob is still impressive, although when you watch the clip again, perhaps some of the magic is lost.

There is something about flash mobs that I find really exciting – and particularly those where participants come together to perform after learning the dance material separately, secretly.  And for that reason, flash mobs are powerful politically – they have impact (on a micro and macro level).  This speaks to the power and importance of popular dance.

This long standing interest in flash mobs is why I found myself today putting together a video (and accompanying word description) for my wedding reception flash mob, which will take place in August this year.  (There, the secret is out!  Well, just don’t tell anyone who is coming to the wedding that isn’t invited to dance…) The process of choreography was actually joyous, and it reminded me of why I study popular dance.  As part of the ‘apparatus of academia’ where the rest of my working week is too often filled with reviewing past modules and planning for the new academic year, actually getting into the dance studio and moving was powerful in itself.

I gotta feeling, that tonight’s gonna be a good night!  Just wait for the video…