#WhyNotWednesday: The Dancing Man Gets His Dance Party

O'Brien hamming it up with Meghan Trainor

Sometimes good things happen and you feel like your faith in humanity is restored. And whenever dance is in involved in these moments, it seems all the sweeter, amiright?

In February, a man named Sean O’Brien from Liverpool, England, was bullied online for his size and dancing in public. A group of women started an online campaign to find him (#FindDancingMan) and throw him the dance party of his dreams—and that party finally happened this past weekend! On Saturday night at Avalon in Los Angeles, O’Brien was joined by some 1,000 people, including Monica Lewinsky, Moby (who DJ'd for free!) and a video message from Pharrell Williams.

It actually sounds like O’Brien’s entire weekend was one for the books: He got to appear on "The Today Show," dance with Meghan Trainor, throw out the first pitch at a Los Angeles Dodgers game and help present a check for $30,000—money raised for anti-bullying charities.

 

Teacher Voices
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In 2001, young Chanel, a determined, ambitious, fiery, headstrong teenager, was about to begin her sophomore year at LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, also known as the highly acclaimed "Fame" school. I was a great student, a promising young dancer and well-liked by my teachers and my peers. On paper, everything seemed in order. In reality, this picture-perfect image was fractured. There was a crack that I've attempted to hide, cover up and bury for nearly 20 years.

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Though the #MeToo movement has spurred many dancers to come forward with their stories of sexual harassment and abuse, the dance world has yet to have a full reckoning on the subject. Few institutions have made true cultural changes, and many alleged predators continue to work in the industry.

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Technique
Nan Melville, courtesy Genn

Not so long ago, it seemed that ballet dancers were always encouraged to pull up away from the floor. Ideas evolved, and more recently it has become common to hear teachers saying "Push down to go up," and variations on that concept.

Charla Genn, a New York City–based coach and dance rehabilitation specialist who teaches company class for Dance Theatre of Harlem, American Ballet Theatre and Ballet Hispánico, says that this causes its own problems.

"Often when we tell dancers to go down, they physically push down, or think they have to plié more," she says. These are misconceptions that keep dancers from, among other things, jumping to their full potential.

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