Today I am beginning a series of posts I’m calling “Analysis & Synthesis,” where I will take apart artifacts of culture and talk about how they are put together, and try to learn from them. Today I’ll begin with this video:
So basically every one of us has seen this video (60 million views and counting). I’d like to tell you why I think it works so well. Hang with me, I have my “curator” hat on.
1) none of the actors break character. Had any of these dancers given up, cracked a sheepish smile or looked the audience in the eye, we wouldn’t be talking about it now.
2) they opened STRONG. When I was in school, I was taught to begin my term papers with my second best argument, place the weakest argument in the middle, and then close with the strongest. If you’ll notice, the first minute of this video contains the strongest individual dancing. The ushers at :31-:45 bear a huge responsibility to sell us on this dance entrance, and they hold up well under the pressure. If either of them had “broken character” at this point, it would have been disastrous. They are followed by the best individual dancers leading up to the surprise handstand at 1:21.
3) it follows the Golden Ratio The climax of the video is the Groom’s entrance at 3:03 (eerily close to 3/5ths of the 5:10 video)
4) They hid their weaknesses. There is some pretty boring dancing in this video that none of us really see or remember because it’s hidden between the Handstand at 1:21 and the Groom’s summersault at 3:03. (essentially the entire second “act”)
5) There is a sense of growth and development: Exposition of Concept (Ushers)> First act (introduction of plot elements: good dancing up to handstand) > Second Act (weaker dancing, but continuing our progression)> Climax (groom’s entrance) > Development (ensemble re-entrance)> Plot Twist (slo-mo at 3:38)> Falling Action.(entrance of the bride and transition to normalcy)
6) btw, did you notice the sunglasses? At the outset, the glasses help create and sustain the image of our characters. Pop quiz: when did the glasses disappear? Answer: at the bride’s entrance.
I hope this Analysis & Synthesis helps you to see the structures inside the experiences around you. The best experiences exhibit a sense of form and a development. I find the vocabulary of musical analysis useful for temporal experiences. I wonder if anyone could reimagine this as a Rondo?