Chair Dances for the Video Age

If any of you have studied dance at an institution of higher learning than you will be very familiar with the most popular dance composition assignment ever: the chair dance. Even if you never went to school for dance, I am pretty sure you have seen a chair dance at some student concert you were dragged to. The most common type you will see is the angsty chair dance. Usually performed by a soloist, in this particularly virulent strain the dancer pours every fiber of her being into communing with the source of her greatest pain and sorrow, the empty chair. I have made and endured watching many a chair dance in my day, and it got to the point where if I saw another one, I thought I might possibly slit my throat.


However, now I’m all grown up and I don’t get to spend gazillions of dollars to dance six hours a day and come up with angsty dance compositions with furniture. Instead I find myself dancing less and interacting with chairs more and more. I’ve got my office job where I deal with numbers and spreadsheets and many other things of importance that I never studied in school. Then I come home to sit at my computer and surf youtube, edit videodances and post to my blog. It got me kind of longing for some chair dancing…

So today for all those poor dancers trapped in cubicles, I present some
excellent chair dances. I encourage you to try these at home or at
work, but be sure to check your workers’ comp policy first.

Chair dance # 1 comes from Lando,
a Youtube vlogger who made a New Year’s resolution to make a dance
video a day. Her motto: Dance Your Ass Off. I guess this quickly
devolved to making a videodance whenever she felt like it, but she’s
still made 74 so far, which is pretty impressive. (For a superstar in
the daily dance video world check out Boris Willis and his “Dance-a-day
blog.) I was impressed with her cinematic approach to her videodances.
Often she plays with the edges of the frame and the videos’ colorings
to make them look old, retro or distorted. In this one she also makes
good use of off-screen/on-screen space and the curtain back-drop, which
has a different effect for camera than stage.

Day 2 of Dance 365 – How to Ridin Dirty Office Chair dance by Lando

Chair dance #2 could be a spin-off of the Hipster Olympics. Brooklyn filmmaker Jill Beale makes a case for the under-represented sport of Chairing,
which seems quite similar to the experimental modern dance scene in New
York. Perhaps our two groups should join forces and take the world by
storm, or at least wheel our way off the L line.

chairing by Jill Beale

Chair dance #3 follows the chairing phenomenon but takes it one step further to become Office Chair Skating.
Instead of endurance and speed, it’s about artistry and grace. You’re
allowed to have off-screen helpers push you in to avoid showing any
clumsy foot scoots, and having smooth floor surfaces are essential.

Office Chair Skating by Rhett and Link

dance #4 is a futuristic fantasy where a flying carpet is replaced by a
flying arm chair soaring to the timeless anthem of Aha’s “Take On Me”.
The guy who made this cast his dad in the lead role. As a moonlighting
chair dancer, he’s really great. No embedding allowed on this one, so
you’ll have to click the link.

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4 Responses to Chair Dances for the Video Age

  1. romina says:

    hey anna
    i just entered the world of blogging for the first time
    actually i am in school (again)
    this time mfa
    so blogging is actually an assignment for my dance&tech class.
    I know you don’t really mean it
    no one can possibly miss chair dances
    now Chairing…….that’s something else.

  2. boris willis says:

    Superstar!!! Wow thanks, I have never been called that before. So I just watched a whole bunch of chair dances on youtube. thanks.

  3. Anna Brady Nuse says:

    Yeah well, in the dance video blogging world you definitely are a star!

  4. Anna Brady Nuse says:

    Hey Romina!! So great to hear from you! (FYI for others, we were friends and classmates at CalArts.) Yeah, I may have been exaggerating about missing chair dances, but office chairs are too much fun not to think about. The wheels and levers give you so many more choreographic choices than just the standard issue wooden chair. Plus the choreography immediately becomes a statement about work and office culture (hip and unemotive) rather than the cliche topics of lost lovers, or fathers that abandoned us, which normal run-of-the-mill chair dances are about.

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