Wednesday 31 December 2008

A Dance on New Year's Eve

Well, actually all this dancing took place over many months around the world, I'm not sure quite when. But with 2009 being the International Year of Astronomy, it seemed a good moment to post about a video I have loved for months.

(OK, I went to the recommended site, Stridegum, specially to download a video I could put here but attempts to upload it have merely managed to crash this computer and require a restart three times - thank goodness this blog saves automatically. Please click the Astronomy Picture of the Day link below, or the Stridegum link above, to watch the video. Sorry about that.)

The Astronomy Picture of the Day page where I found it remarked, "Few people are able to watch this video without smiling". My uncle commented, "Have you ever noticed, nobody can watch dolphins without laughing."

This video was created by Matt Harding and his girlfriend Melissa Nixon, travelling around the world and arranging dances by open invitation in advance of each stop. His website is well worth reading. If you're interested, you can check out the lyrics of the songs - and much more - in the FAQ section. Kudos to Matt for thinking up going to Nellis Airspace and for Astronomy Picture of the Day for (I assume) using that as an excuse to show the world such a marvellous video!

It's wonderful to watch people dancing all over the world. Forests and mountains and deserts and sea. Beautiful buildings and ugly ones; ridiculous fairgrounds and ancient monuments. The buildings in Yemen reminded me of Granada, Spain, my adored home town for 10 months and, coincidentally, where two Galaxy Zoo scientists are now. (I've walked right past that spot in Madrid too.) The dances are all different, and all the same. It shows how we are all neighbours. The scenery is often terrific, but to most of the happy people dancing, it is their scenery and they're used to it. And the dogs, crabs, lemurs, dolphins and camels felt like part of it too - I mean much more than that they were merely "there" - just as they and we are all part of the animal kingdom. All this on our little planet Earth.

(Credit: Astronomy Picture of the Day; NASA

Once you've watched it two, or twelve, or twenty or two hundred times, it then starts to become more thought-provoking. I started counting the political statements. The only people I saw in the video who looked unhappy with the thought of dancing (to say the least!) were those soldiers in the "demilitarised zone" . . . What was going on? What is it like there? Where were all the people? There were subtler points. Israel was directly followed by West Bank, Jerusalem. In some places, only males were dancing. And in South Africa - well, if you can't guess, just watch it and enjoy.

Half this lovely planet is in shadow at any one time, and I wonder how many people are dancing then, or looking up at the stars.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey Alice! I loved this post of yours, thanks SO much for posting that video on the forums, I've sent it to all of my known aquaintances (with e-mails that is!) I love the dancing. It was especially interesting for me to see the "demilitarized zone" you spoke of as my cousin is currently stationed there in the US Army. I suspect he doesn't see much dancing there...

Thanks again,

-fellow stargazer/zooite