An Indian doctor, in full protective gear, moves to a Bollywood track. A Harlem dance troupe, donning surgical masks, pirouette across empty subway stations and parks. And an Alabama principal films a Covid-era take on MC Hammer’s Can’t Touch This.
These are just a few of the dance videos that could only have emerged in 2020. Below are five of our favorites.
Indian doctor channels Bollywood
Ear, nose and throat surgeon Dr Arup Senapati has been treating Covid patients in India’s north-eastern state of Assam for months. Earlier this month, he donned full PPE (including a face shield and shoe covers), and danced to Bollywood hit Ghungroo for recovering patients.
His colleague Dr Syed Faizan Ahmad posted the video – and it has been viewed more than 5m times. “It was the last of the seven days of grueling duty at the Covid ward,” Senapati told the Indian Express. “I just wanted to keep the morale up. The week had been tough, the PPE is difficult to work in … while the recovery rate has improved in Assam, and things are looking better, the war is far from over, we are still working every day to beat this.”
The Dance Theater of Harlem take their talents to the street
Eight dancers, clad in summer dresses, khakis and matching white masks masterfully glide across the streets of Harlem, turning the entire neighborhood into a stage: amid the neo-gothic buildings of the City College of New York, on an empty subway platform, and in front of a mural on 125th street.
“I wanted to make backdrops out of these urban Harlem spaces,” said dancer Derek Brockington. Brockington produced the video with fellow dancer Alexandra Hutchinson in August, for Harlem Week, an annual celebration of the neighborhood, which was one of Manhattan’s hardest hit areas early in the pandemic.
This year, all performances were online. “People loved to see a different side of Harlem and felt an energy that celebrates the excellence that takes place there,” Brockington said. “People got to see a bit of themselves represented in an art form that can normally be very exclusive.”
Alabama principal remakes Can’t Touch This for 2020
Dr Quentin Lee, principal of Childersburg high school, near Birmingham, Alabama, turned MC Hammer’s 1990 hit Can’t Touch This into an anthem for 2020.
Lee raps social distancing-themed lyrics like, “So now, back up 6ft / You better not cough and you better not sneeze,” as he and a few students dance around the school, handing out gloves, administering temperature checks, and ensuring students stay 6ft apart. The music-video-meets-public-service-announcement has been viewed more than 6m times.
Atlanta woman breaks into dance after scoring a new job
Like many Americans, Kayallah Jones has struggled with unemployment and homelessness over the last several months, according CBS46. So when she aced an interview for a waitstaff position at the Spot, a sports bar in an Atlanta suburb, she broke into a dance in the parking lot.
Restaurant manager Dakara Spence caught Jones’ moves on the restaurant’s surveillance camera and called her. “I said, ‘I’m going to hire you, and I seen your happy dance so you can continue dancing,’” Dakara told CBS46. “She was just screaming through the phone and it was just a beautiful moment for me.”
The Jerusalema dance challenge
A group of young men and women sit together in a courtyard, eating plates of food, when one by one, they break into dance to the tune of Jerusalema, the 2019 hit by South African artists Master KG and Nomcebo Zikode. That video, which was filmed in Angola at the outset of 2020, has been viewed more than 13m times and sparked a global dance challenge even as countries closed their borders due to the pandemic.
Healthcare workers in South Africa and Kenya have taken part in the #JerusalemaDanceChallenge, along with a Catholic diocese in Montreal, a Zimbabwean human rights lawyer and Romanian firefighters, among many others. In a September address to commemorate South Africa’s Heritage Day, President Cyril Ramaphosa encouraged citizens to “reflect on the difficult journey we have all travelled, to remember those who have lost their lives, and to quietly rejoice in the remarkable and diverse heritage of our nation”.
He added: “There can be no better way to celebrate our South Africanness than joining the global phenomenon that is spreading across the world and that is the Jerusalema dance challenge.”