Video: The D-Day interpretive dance

Wish I could embed it for you but C-SPAN doesn’t allow that. Click the image below and it’ll take you to the entire 50-minute (no joke) extravaganza, replete with a tricolor flyover at the end. People on Twitter are rolling their eyes over it and Noah’s downright irritated, writing, “Instead of a solemn and contemplative remembrance of the costs paid in order to leave ensuing generations a free world, viewers were made to witness a display of cleverness.” I don’t mind the cleverness, though; if someone had composed a piece of music for the occasion, that would also have been “clever” but unobjectionable. Art in tribute to sacrifice is as old as time. What’s bugging some, I think, is the fact that they chose choreography as the medium. It’s well intended, but watching soldier-dancers gracefully pretend-fall where they stand on a beach where men were shot to pieces tends to obscure the magnitude of the sacrifice rather than illuminate it. Imagine a ballet about 9/11 that had dancers swan-diving elegantly from a platform into a pool to represent people jumping from the 105th floor onto asphalt. They’re not trying to minimize the horror, but that’s how it turns out. It’s a matter, I think, of choreography being too close to the actions that inspired it to be properly expressive in this case; it ends up seeming like a too-pale, even faintly ridiculous, imitation of what actually happened. (The mock coffins are a bit much, don’t you think?) Music, a more abstract medium, doesn’t have that problem.

Or maybe there’s just a cultural divide between the U.S. and Europe. Face it, Americans have always viewed dance as the most effete of the arts, not an intuitive choice to commemorate the most momentous battle of the 20th century (in the west, at least). On the continent they may view it differently, in which case this is no different from theater or an orchestral work in honor of the occasion. Shrug. Click the image to watch.