Friday, March 07, 2008

The Art Of The Physical

So I was thinking today...and I came to the conclusion that one of the reasons I like pro wrestling so much is that I enjoy over-the-top physical presentation. I can enjoy subtlety as well, such as the clever punnery of I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue or the wordplay of the "Four Candles" sketch by The Two Ronnies, but generally speaking I seem to be entranced by the spectacular. I've been thinking a bit about that sort of thing lately, as it relates to my enjoyment (or lack thereof) of live musical performances. I've never been much of one for concerts--I always tend to find my attention drifting and critiquing the sound mix or examining the decor of the building. Even when I was a schoolkid attending the North Carolina Symphony, I found myself wondering how the giant chandelier was held up by such a thin chain rather than paying any attention to the performance going on in front of me.

Most bands I've seen just don't give enough for me on stage. Perhaps I'm shallow (probably), but I just can't enjoy myself unless there's a big physical presentation accompanying the vocal performance. I need style, showmanship, and charisma. That's why I enjoy people like Cab Calloway or Kiss, and the best concert I ever attended was James Brown--they all knew how to put on a SHOW. Performers like James Brown or Ric Flair don't just go out there and do whatever the label on the marquee advertises (soul music, pro wrestling) they make their performance big and bold and something you can't take your eyes off of.

Anyway, what inspired this post was discovering some performances of the Nicholas Brothers I hadn't seen before. If you don't know the Nicholas Brothers, they were brothers (amazing, eh?) who were the most astounding dancers of all time. Their physical acrobat skills would've earned them a place in the history books, but the addition of their amazing showmanship and absolute style makes them into entertainment legends. This is the most famous performance of the brothers, dancing to Cab Calloway's orchestra in the movie Stormy Weather. The climactic scene of them doing the splits over each other's heads is just stunning--and then they just get back up again! Here's a later performance in colour that has some jaw-dropping moments. This is the performance I hadn't seen, a song and dance routine that shows they had the moves way back when, and great singing voices to boot. Now that's a show.

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