That video of 200 people in Belgium suddenly breaking out in a dance to “Do-Re-Mi” is popping up everywhere–and with it, the question of what it all means and why anybody should care.
If you haven’t seen it, it’s really an astonishing four minutes in the Antwerp train station when Julie Andrews’s clear, high voice starts singing over the public address system, and seemingly from out of nowhere, people start performing a choreographed dance–the crowd of dancers growing larger and larger, much to the amazement of the regular folks in the train station.
The dancers are all ordinary looking people of all ages, some wearing business suits and carrying briefcases, others hoisting backpacks. They look like ordinary passengers–only they all know the same steps, and THEY ARE DANCING TOGETHER, performing wordlessly in straight, precise lines. The crowd of onlookers can’t stop themselves from looking stunned and delighted as the folks next to them suddenly join in.
When I watched it, it made me smile–and then without warning, my eyes were filling with tears.
But why? I had no idea. I watched it five more times the first day, and since then I’ve seen it perhaps ten more times, and each time I feel this tugging at my heart.
I figured I was just losing it. But tonight, on salon.com, a commenter on Table Talk put into words just what I’d been feeling. Here’s an excerpt from it:
The dancers are presenting the purest form of art imaginable: art simply and truly for the sake of art.
What they are presenting to the people in that station (and the rest of us, of course) is the ideal of human co-operation. They’re showing us the possibility that a bunch of unrelated, unconnected people could spontaneously burst into a song and dance routine in a train station because that’s what they all wanted to do and that’s what we could do too, if we set our minds to it.
They have shown me a little bit of what it is to be human again.
And if we can be human again, maybe there’s hope for us as a species. And that, I think, is why I love to watch it. It just feel so good to think of ourselves as part of something bigger, something joyful and lovely and filled with hope. It’s the best of our humanity.
As my conductor friend Bobby said in his wonderful blog, Bobby Derailed, how long before this breaks out in Grand Central? We could use a little of this close to home.