I love sweeping epic songs. Something about them is cathartic, like the old tradition of bloodletting. They make me want to cut my soul open to let all the bad things drain out so that I can take off and fly. Trippy, yes I know, but it’s the only way to accurately describe it.
A class like this I reserve for only the best songs – Guns N’ Roses “November Rain” is in there, Utada Hikaru’s “Sakura Nagashi”, and more Coldplay songs that I care to mention. But recently, I’ve had the privilege of adding a new song to my “Epic” playlist on my iTunes: “Shake It Out” by Florence and the Machine. Flip the page and allow me to explain myself.
To be perfectly honest, I usually stray from anything Top 40-ish that has been overplayed and equally over-danced. The song is a contemporary dancer’s dream given its deep lyrics and sweeping orchestration, so when I first heard it, I chalked it up as a nice song and kept it moving as I had heard it a few too many times that competition season. Please understand that I bear no ill-will towards the dance competition industry and television shows, but they’ve taken some good songs and put them so far into the public spotlight that the original charm of the music is lost because of the commercial success. That’s another post though.
One afternoon as I searched YT to find the music video, this piece of awesomeness popped up. It’s a competition piece from Atlanta, GA’s Murrieta Dance Project dancing to the aforementioned choreographed by Nick Lazzarini. Watch it and we’ll continue talking on the other side.
The second the music ended and the screaming began, I was in love. Crazy that the singular reason i avoided the song was the singular reason I’ve grown to love it. It’s not because the piece was so epic in its concept and choreography, but because the dance was such an extension of the music. The dancers movement was so clear and choreography so honest, much like frontwoman Florence Welch’s voice and instrumental arrangement, it awakened a hardcore love in me for this slice of sonic symphony.
In a turn that always seems to happen, art imitated life and I experienced a few situations which echoed what I believed the song referenced, helping that cut of music hold an even bigger influence in how I reacted to my situations and my listening grew from purely pleasurable to listening for guidance and inspiration – something that I believe music can do to help us get through the hard times.
Speaking as a dancer and choreographer (in typical fashion), I’d love to to create a piece around this 4 minute and 43 seconds of loveliness. But as I said earlier, it’s much too popular for me to tackle it now. Sometime into the future when something new has come around, I’ll return to this and craft something spectacular. For now, it’s sitting at the top of my “epic” playlist, waiting for that moment when I need to cut and vein and let it all run free.