Saturday Single No. 208

We have plans here for a very nice evening.

My birthday was early last month, and since then, my birthday present from the Texas Gal has been languishing in a drawer, waiting for the final Saturday in October. The present? Two tickets to this evening’s performance in Minneapolis of the traveling tour of So You Think You Can Dance.

Since the show first came on television during the summer of 2005, the Texas Gal and I have been fans. (For the uninitiated, So You Think You Can Dance is essentially American Idol for dancers.) We’ve never picked up the phone after one of the shows to vote for our favorites, but we’ve watched, I think, every episode of every season. (There certainly have been times when we’ve not been home, but DVR has stepped in so we could watch later.)

And along the way, we’ve learned a little bit about the various forms of dancing, from hip-hop’s vast catalogue of styles to the similar breadth of the catalogues of ballroom and modern dance. Just a little bit. We’re not experts by any means. But we’ve learned enough while watching six seven seasons of the competition to spot and comment on flaws and tendencies in performances that are often then the subject of comments from the program’s judges.

We have our favorite styles. The Texas Gal’s favorites are the genre called contemporary and then the Bollywood style, with its performances based on the dances developed for films made in India. My favorites are Broadway-style performances and the various Latin dances, particularly the paso doble with its stylized presentation of bullfighter and bull. And I’m sure we’ll see some of all of those genres and many more as the leading dancers from last summer’s season – accompanied by dancers from previous seasons – perform this evening in Minneapolis’ Target Center.

So this morning, I thought I would wander through a random six-pack of songs with the word “dance” in their titles, stopping at the sixth such song for today’s feature. So here we go:

First, perhaps not entirely surprising, we get a track from my small collection of classical music: “Hungarian Dance No. 4 (poco sostenuto),” a Johannes Brahms composition from around 1869. Brahms’ collection of Hungarian dances ranges from lively to seemingly tragic, whether performed on two pianos (as I think he originally wrote them) or by a full orchestra, as is the case here.

Next up is “Gandy Dancer,” a tune from the album Deer In The Night released in 2009 by Po’ Girl, which was originally formed in 2003 by Trish Klein of the Be Good Tanyas and Allison Russell of Fear of Drinking. (The band’s lineup had changed significantly by the time Deer In The Night came out; Wikipedia says that Russell and three other musicians now make up the group, with no mention of Klein.) Po’ Girl’s music echoes a wide  range of cultural and ethnic influences, and “Gandy Dancer” to me carries strains of Klezmer, one of the musical traditions of Eastern European Jewry.

Our third title this morning is “Do You Want To Dance” by Janis Ian, a track from her 1978 self-titled album. A quiet meditation over a spare jazzy accompaniment of piano, bass and drums, it’s a track that would have fit on any of her mid- to late-1970s albums: thoughtful and a bit wry. This is the only track I have from the 1978 album, which, Ian’s own website notes, “died a quick death.” I may have to see if I can find a used copy of the CD somewhere.

We move on to “Støvledance,” a 2001 track sung mostly in English by a Danish group called De Nattergale. The record is almost a novelty, with silly lyrics, a sawing violin and a recurring chorus of “Naow, naow naow!” It’s fun and it’s short, and both of those are virtues.

“Come Out and Dance” was a track on Steve Winwood’s 1990 album, Refugees of the Heart. It’s an album that was, I think, panned and generally ignored when it came out, but over the years, I’ve gained a greater appreciation for it. And “Come Out and Dance” is pretty good, with an insistent groove (that could be, in all honestly, a little more lively), a couple of sweet saxophone solos by Randall Bramblett and a sound that fits in pretty well with Winwood’s work of the late 1980s and early 1990s.

In the end, we land on a tune that was likely featured here sometime during 2007, but three years is an eternity in blogyears, so we’re going to take it and run with it. The first Top 40 hit for the duo of Loggins & Messina, “Your Mama Don’t Dance” was about as infectious and fun as anything coming out of radio speakers and from behind closed dorm doors as 1972 turned into 1973. The record went to No. 4 in the last week of January 1973 and remains vital and listenable almost forty years later. Here’s a 1973 live television performance from Midnight Special, and It’s today’s Saturday Single:

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One Response to “Saturday Single No. 208”

  1. […] the Texas Gal and I were watching the reality show So You Think You Can Dance, which is – as I mentioned about a year-and-a-half ago – one of our favorite television shows. (For those unfamiliar with […]

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