Unlike paintings on caves and tools for hunting left by our forefathers, ancient dance did not leave humanity with artifacts that would have allowed us to trace the beginnings of dance as an art form. Nevertheless, it’s hardly deniable that dance has been a part of human history, probably for as long as humans have existed. Fortunately, today, with the magic of video, and particularly YouTube, it’s possible for us to view practically any form of dance we wish to see. In fact, all it takes is a few clicks on a computer to view our favorite dance routines — the ones that give us goosebumps and send chills up and down our spines — as often as we would like to.
As is true of any art form, people’s tastes vary greatly in terms of what makes a dance video truly unforgettable. Nevertheless, there are particular performances that seem to appeal to even the most casual of dance admirers. Here are ten of the best that have been caught on video:
10. Tron Dance by Wrecking Crew Orchestra (2011)
Wrecking Crew Orchestra (WCO), an all-male Japanese dance troupe with eight members, was formed in Osaka in 2003. However, it was only in 2012 that the group gained worldwide recognition after the video of their Tron-inspired dance routine went viral. All in all, the various posts featuring their neon-enabled performance racked up a total of more than 20 million views. Without a doubt, WCO owes part of its fame to Team iLuminate as it was the America’s Got Talent 2010 stint of the group that brought attention to glow-suit routines. However, while Team iLuminate’s performances are more elaborate in terms of their use of props, WCO’s dance moves appear to be more impressive.
In 2012, Sony Ericsson capitalized on the fame of WCO’s Tron-inspired dance and employed the group to promote the Xperia Acro HD mobile phone. The resulting video ad was in itself a sight to behold:
9. Zilla March by NextLevel Squad (2011)
The Zilla March video featuring the NextLevel Squad is captivating for several reasons. For one, the group performs their dance routine aboard the crowded trains and in the subway stations of New York. Secondly, the fact that the dancers are shirtless (except for the sole female member) and wearing gas masks in such busy areas is a sight to behold. Last but definitely not the least, the movements of these men and one woman are absolutely stunning both for their fluidity and for their level of difficulty. In the opening sequence, for instance, one of the male dancers grips a pole, which is twisted like a helicopter propeller to display the unbelievable flexibility that the man has developed in his shoulder joint.
The genre of dance is called “flexing”, a contortionist style that originated from a Brooklyn television show called Flex-N-Brooklyn. The video, meanwhile, was produced by YAK FILMS.
8. Jay Funk for the Samsung Galaxy SII Launch (2011)
Jay Funk had been a pretty well-known DJ and respected finger-tutting artist before Samsung hired him to be the featured talent on their Samsung Galaxy SII commercial released in 2011. However, it was through the advertisement that he gained a global audience and was able to put on full display his flair for manipulating his digits. Well, it turned out that the move was a smart one by Samsung, as the touch-screen features of its then-new phone were a perfect match for Funk’s awesome finger choreography. Great decision, too, that the commercial made use of special effects to further highlight the geometric nature of Funk’s moves.
Samsung was apparently pleased with the mileage that they derived from the advertisement, as they once again hired Funk (this time with Joey Daniels) for the French launch of the Samsung Galaxy SIII in 2012.
7. Here It Goes Again by OK Go (2006)
With the release of its music video for Here It Goes Again in 2006, alternative rock/power pop band OK Go proved that given the right choreography, almost anyone can be a dance phenom. Performing elaborately planned movements on several strategically placed treadmills, the band members glided their way to over 52 million YouTube views until the video was removed from OK Go’s channel and transferred to Vevo, where it has racked up over 22 million more views. In fact, the routine was so well-received that the video, which took seventeen takes to perfect, was awarded the 2006 YouTube prize for Most Creative Video, named one of the 30 All-TIME best Music Videos by Time Magazine, and awarded the 2007 Grammy for Best Short Form Music Video. Impressively, OK Go performed the treadmill routine live during the 2006 MTV Video Music Awards:
6. Martin and Marielle at the Britain’s Got Talent Auditions (2013)
Asked to describe what they would be performing, Martin and Marielle hesitantly described themselves as “a lift act”. And it would be wrong to blame the Dutch duo for struggling to find the right words. After all, their brand of dancing is so unique that it really hasn’t really been properly named. Nevertheless, the fearlessness and grace with which they perform their craft is undeniably captivating. Unfortunately for the pair, while they tangoed themselves through to the knockout phase of the seventh series of Britain’s Got Talent, Martin and Marielle were eventually eliminated in the semifinals. All the same, their performance is definitely a thriller worth revisiting.
5. Royal Family at the World Hip Hop Dance Championship Finals (2013)
The World Hip Hop Dance Championship is an international competition created in 2002, and since its inception, the event has been the venue for some of the most amazing displays of dance ever witnessed. Among the legends of the competition is New Zealand’s Royal Family, which won the Mega Crew Division gold three years in a row (2011-2013). In fact, the Kiwi dance troupe has been head and shoulders above the competition, prompting organizers to deem the group to be “unbeatable” and to bar them from competing at the 2014 edition of the competition. Well, based on their 2013 winning performance, it’s not hard to see why Royal Family are considered virtual hall-of-famers.
4. Atai Omurazakov at the Cesko Slovensko Ma Talent (Czech-Slovak Got Talent) 3rd Semifinal (2011)
As a 21-year-old native of Kyrgyzstan, Atai Omurzakov was an outsider at the 2011 edition of Cesko Slovensko Ma Talent, the Czech and Slovak edition of the “Got Talent” franchise. Nevertheless, the charming “electric boogie” dance artist robotically creaked his way to the show’s championship. Of his terrific performances, though, it was his Wall-E-inspired routine that was clearly the most elaborate and moving, causing the audience and even one of the judges to tear up. Why the somber mood when robot dances are usually light and smile-inducing? Well, perhaps it’s because things haven’t always been easy for Omurzakov. He never knew his father, and he and his mother had to move apartments often due to their lack of money. Furthermore, he had previously lost out in the final of Ukraine’s Got Talent and even failed to make it past the auditions for Russia’s Minuta slavy (Minute of Fame). Fortunately, a stint at Cesko Slovensko Ma Talent did the trick for Atai as it won him the equivalent of $133,000 in Euros.
3. Prodijig at the Got to Dance Series 3 Finals (2012)
Irish stepdance, rooted in traditional Irish dance, has been performed for decades. But it was only in 2012, during the third series of Got to Dance, that the British public was made aware of just how current the dance style could be. With their intentionally stiff upper bodies and mesmerizingly intricate footwork, the members of Prodijig tapped their way into the hearts of the Got to Dance judges and audience. In the end, their journey on the show culminated with the seven-member group (five boys, two girls) stepdancing to modern tunes like Beyoncé‘s “Run the World (Girls)” and Skrillex‘s “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites”. And as most of the British expected, Projidig took home the show’s £250,000 prize money for being named the season’s grand champion.
2. “Pumped Up Kicks” Dubstep by Marquesse Scott (2011)
Dubstep, one of the subcategeories of electronic dance music, is characterized by syncopated percussion patterns, its most noteworthy artists including the likes of DJs Skrillex and Rusko. With the rise of this high-energy genre bloomed the corresponding dance style, which is not very easy to describe. But there is probably no better introduction to dubstep as dance than watching Marquesse Scott perform it, in particular, when he dances to Butch Clancy’s remix of Foster the People’s Pumped Up Kicks.
The YouTube video of Scott’s performance racked up an amazing 1.7 million views just four days after it was posted. In it, the Californian goes from sitting on a bench and fiddling with his shoelaces, to gliding and stepping to the music as if the video of him dancing were likewise remixed. In fact, anyone who views the performance would find it hard to believe that no editing was applied to the video. Even more amazingly, the clip was captured in just one take. No wonder Scott has appeared in various advertisements and on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
1. Academy of Villains at the Vibe XIX (2014)
Founded in 1994 and held annually in California, Vibe owns the distinction of being the longest-running hip-hop dance contest in the world. The competition grows fiercer with each passing year, and for the 2014 edition, a theatrical dance company called “Academy of Villains” took home the grand prize. Truth is, anyone who watches their winning performance will have little doubt as to why the group deserves the honor. In line with the troupe’s mission of fusing their energetic dance style with elements of horror and suspense, the Academy wowed the Vibe XIX judges with their splendid choreography and breathtaking special effects. Their win shouldn’t have really been that surprising, actually, as the Villains were named the “Hip Hop International Champions of 2012” and were also semifinalists in America’s Got Talent that same year.