My top five underrated dance music videos

Stephen Jacobsen

My top five underrated dance music videos of all time. These are the videos made by artist not generally revered as especially talented dancers, but through their music videos exemplify everything that I love about dance. These are music videos not focused of technical dance skill, but the joy and spirit of dance. They remind me that it’s not about the steps being danced, or who’s dancing them, but why we dance in the first place. These are dancers in the truest sense, those who love to dance. There will be no Beyonce, Justin Timberlake, or Michael Jackson on this list, because they have received more than enough props for their works, as great as they may be.

5.  Around the World - Daft Punk -A piece so funky and fun, the video does not employ a slew of highly trained dancers, instead using talents from worlds such as synchronized swimming, relying on relentless musicality to build an amazing energy that sends shivers down my spine on every viewing. Especially when the group inhabits the lyrics literally, and pace around the stage - around, around, and around the world. Also, it’s directed by the genius Michel Gondry, known for his films The Science of Sleep and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

4. Praise You - Fatboy Slim -An impromptu performance on the sidewalk in front of a movie theater to the Fatboy Slim classic. A musical, well danced, knowingly spastic, and wonderfully realized expression of dance for the joy of dancing. The choreography might be closer to jazzercise than classical ballet, but in a world before flash mobs, this was a revolutionary idea that brought a little more magic into the world. Then when the cd skips, and the group is cheered to finish there performance... gets me every time.

3.  Chromeo - Come Alive-A group of mannequins ... come alive... in this amazing music video by the Canadian duo from Montreal. The dance is themed and spirited, and when one of the band members - as the videos security officer character- gets in on the action, it reminds us of something we forget far too often in the dance world, that dance can have a sense of humor.

2. Beirut - Elephant Gun-Genius timing with burst of modern dance, in a style that has since become a staple in the industry, is so effective its hard not to get teary eyed at the energy being displayed on screen. Beautiful, effective, and musical, an absolute joy of a music video that makes you love the song they’re selling.

1. Feist - 1234-Filled with - “How did they shoot that?” - moments, so creative I get jealous from my lack of involvement upon each viewing. The steps are so simple that they should have become a wedding dance floor staple, yet they somehow dissolve me into tears every time, especially when the groups of brightly color coordinated dancers go audibly cheering across the floor. Shot in one long take, using so much invention, that the drab wear house it was shot in becomes a hot bed of dance genius. Not a single Barishnikov in the bunch - at least from what the video shares - a perfect example of what this list is about. It’s not what steps are being stepped, or who’s stepping them, but why and when they’re being stepped. Probably my favorite music video of all time.

My top 10 movies of 2014

Stephen Jacobsen

I saw sixty of the films released in 2014, and after almost seven months, here is how the films of that year stacked up for me. These are my favorite kinds of films, full of good ideas, and brimming with urgency. These movies are prime examples of art in cinema. While showing us the fault in out patterns, and the flaws in our institutions, they also possess the power and intelligence to possibly move our society forward. In short, these films all taught me something.

1. Starred Up -This is a genius film. A gang movie set in a prison, presented like a thriller, and played out by a father and son who have both committed unforgivable crimes. The movie makes a statement on our problems with violence, incarceration, family, and the destructive patterns that ripple though our society because of them. Tense, smart, and brilliantly acted, a must see for any film buff, or anyone seeking knowledge and change.

 Starred Up

Starred Up

2. Nightcrawler - Smart, violent, and utterly engrossing. Focusing on our broken news system, Jake Gyllenhaal gives the best performance of the year.

 Nightcrawler

Nightcrawler

3. Whiplash - Possibly the best film ever made on the subject of artistic ambition, it also happens to have the best final act of 2014.

 Whiplash

Whiplash

4. Birdman - Wows with the way it was shot, but holds up because it’s funny, smart, and personal. It really is as good as they say, but expect something a little off beat.

 Birdman

Birdman

5. The Grand Budapest Hotel - Wes Anderson at his best. Whimsical, layered, funny, sad, and smart. With all the great performances, the familiar yet fictional fantasy world created in this film springs to life, and brims with heart.

 The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Grand Budapest Hotel

6. Selma - A great film, that steadily - and terrifyingly - keeps getting more and more relevant. Even within the few months it’s been released.

 Selma

Selma

7. Obvious Child - Honest acting and a smart script elevate this important film to become the best romantic comedy in years.

 Obvious Child

Obvious Child

8. Paddington - Hilarious details, amazing sets, and a moving fish out of water parable for immigration and adoption. This is the kind of family film that truly is for the whole family, full of wit and love.

 Paddington

Paddington

9. Only Lovers Left Alive - I know everyone loves to hate on vampires lately - thanks Twilight for that. But with stories like this and Let the Right One In, the sub-genre has proven to be the perfect setting for smart, thought provoking dramas, splattered with the occasional bloody thrill.  Funny, romantic, and an awesome soundtrack, if you can adapt to it’s methodic pacing,  you’ll be enthralled.

 Only Lovers Left Alive

Only Lovers Left Alive

10. Ida - A quiet stunner. This film is so gorgeous to look at, you might miss the sheer amount of depth this deceivingly simple tale from Poland has to offer.

 Ida

Ida

Honorable Mentions: - John Wick, The Lego Movie, Guardians of the Galaxy, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Wild, Still Alice, Gone Girl, Edge of Tomorrow, Captain America, Boxtrolls, and The Babadook.