“Those guys are perfect examples of pure genius.” – Mikhail Baryshnikov
***** WAIT ! Read the blog post FIRST, then watch the clip. Trust us.
We are going to start today’s blog post with a disclaimer. “Do not attempt what these fellas do in the last moments of this video, particularly the scene on the stairs.”
Almost everyone on the face of this planet can walk, and most of those can also run as well. It is basically all about putting one foot in front of the other and trying to maintain some sense of balance and stability over the stance limb without falling over. For some however, this is their greatest challenge of the day, walking. Whether it be from an arthritic hip or knee or a neuro-degenerative disease, some folks see walking as their greatest physical challenge on a daily basis.
For the able bodied folks, dance is another matter when compared to walking or running. Dance is about as far in the extreme opposite direction as one can get from simple walking gait or running. Here at the Gait Guys we know this intimately. In our mission to better understand human locomotion we continue to personally delve into tasks of complex motion, for it is only through studying the difficult that the beauty of the simple shines through. After committing 3 years to investigating and learning smooth and latin dance with some truly amazing teachers we can say with some strong personal conviction, dance is different. Footwork can be very complex in dance, as it can at times in many sports, but one thing is for certain they are not the same. In dance the foot steps are consciously calculated to the beat of the music, this does not occur in any other sport and thus the steps and lower limb movements in most sport are less calculated and important than when it comes to fixed techniques, procedures and protocols as in dance. Rumba steps are different from cha cha, waltz, foxtrot, swing, salsa, mambo, hustle, tango etc. Each dance has unique steps and must be able to be performed at varying tempos, at the very least. Oh, least we forget to mention that you usually have a partner you must choreograph the movements with, taking turns moving forward, backward or spinning. In contrast, when Michael Jordan is spinning off of a pick-and-roll driving to the hoop he is not exactly consciously calculating footwork at a 3/4 time for exampleor making sure that there was a specific foot and leg action that was premised on the movement. The goal and demand is different in dance.
There are no particular learning issues on this blog post today, just sit and watch in amazement how precise and clean these fellas are. Over the three years dancing I Iearned all that I could regarding the complexities of foot and limb work from the 8+ dances presented to me. I gleaned many insights into the complexities of human movement and in the process stole some pretty amazing exercises for foot and lower limb rehabilitation and testing. Perhaps, what I began to respect more than any other thing was the level of athleticism that dancers achieve, speed, precision, coordination, agility, flexibility, strength, grace and so much more. It is clear to us now why some of the best athletes in the world add some components of dance to their workouts to enhance their sport performance and get an edge on their competition.
So, now sit back and try to truly appreciate the speed, precision, coordination, agility, flexibility, strength, grace and more of these two fellas. I dare one can find many athletes on this planet that will try what they successfully do down those stairs. And because of that, I almost dare anyone to say they are not athletes to the highest level. Try not to get caught up in the entertainment of the video, rather, study intently the complexities of what these two fellas are about to do … . . and while doing it to music, in synchronization with eachother, they keep perfect timing the whole way through. And for an even more amazing trip, cover up their upper bodies and just watch their feet and legs.
“Fayard and Harold Nicholas were a fantastic set of flash-dancers who performed as the Nicholas Brothers. Born seven years apart, the brothers performed for decades on stage and screen, later teaching dance to Michael and Janet Jackson, among many others. In the performance below from Stormy Weather, many of their trademark moves are on display — jumping down stairs into splits, sliding up from splits without using hands, and gleefully jumping through orchestra stands, while tap-dancing in unison. This is downright amazing. According to The Kid Should See This:
- Fred Astaire once called this performance “the greatest dance number ever filmed.” Mikhail Baryshnikov said, “Those guys are perfect examples of pure genius.”
And to finish off here today, we have some new things to begin sharing in the coming weeks. My 3 year commitment to dance has run its course, for now. And a new 3 year commitment has begun. Stay tuned to find out where the new inspirations will be coming from, its is about as far from dance as one can get but the movements to some are just about as beautiful and complex. Here is a hint, “Where you at Georges?” (you curious folk can google it).
Stick with the Gait Guys, our journey with you into the mysteries of human movement have only just begun.
“Where you #@%*# at Georges !? “
Shawn and Ivo,
The Gait Guys