Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Will Miss #410 - bad dancing

One of my students loves Michael Jackson. Well, there's a very good chance that more than one of them loves him as he has been super popular in Japan since his death. At any rate, there was a tribute performance to him that included performers of various nationalities including, of course, Japanese. She praised the Koreans and the Americans, but said little about her countrymen. I asked her how the Japanese were and she paused for a moment and said, "it's important to try and get everything right." When I asked her what she meant, she paused again and repeated that phrase. What she was trying to avoid saying was that the Japanese are bad dancers, even when they are supposed to be professional. There's a reason for this which relates to culture, but unfortunately that assertion is often referred to in jokes in racist terms. To that end, Dave Barry once said that the Japanese made white folks look cool because of their awkward movement. It has little to do with their blood and everything to do with the Japanese approach to getting the job done in a meticulous, regimented, and coordinated manner. It's the same ethos which has them practicing their baseball players to the point of exhaustion and at the expense of their performance.

There's something innocent and heartening about how the dancers work so hard to get it right yet somehow manage to look like they've trained for a high school musical and I'll miss seeing them.