Currently pushing: Oprah’s Legends Ball. Apparently back in 2005 Oprah threw a three day celebration honoring twenty-five African American women who have done some stuff. Just watch this clip of the gospel brunch, and be stunned by everyone in it. Patti, Dionne, Tina, Diana, Gladys, Chaka, Janet, Mariah, Naomi, Halle, Mary J, Tyra, Alicia, uh, Ashanti. Basically everyone. (Notable no-shows or uninvited included Whitney, Aretha, Toni, Lauryn, Vanessa, Beyonce.) The best part, I found this via a tweet and the one post Tumblr it was shared on was called "trumptaxreturns2005.tumblr.com.”
So I left the comfy confines of home a few weeks ago to attend a friend’s wedding up in the Bay. While I was there, I not only experienced the magic of the Impossible Burger and rewatched Logan, but also got to go to my friend Jasmine’s first Bhangra in the Bay class. I mince no words in saying that Jasmine is the greatest bhangra dancer of all time and she’s now teaching a class in Oakland — along with her co-instructor, Chetty. Our videographer friend brought all this fancy gear to make an intro video and I got to help, meaning I stood around and manned the camera’s remote control while Victor did all the (literal and figurative) heavy lifting. Needless to say, the video came out great and if you’re looking for a workout, bhangra fusion is the way to go. Also, I went deep into the world do bhangra forums and YouTubes, and now consider myself an amateur expert.
And while I’m on a dance theme, I’ve been following this Taiwanese hip hop dancer, Nike Chen — and her three person crew called MoveOn Dance Taiwan. I’m a little surprised I’ve never seen her before, considering Taiwan’s small dance scene. However, I listened to her short TED Talk and am intrigued by how she talks about being inspired by the hip hop ethos in Taiwan. One of the first things I did upon moving to Taiwan was to explore the world of hip hop and dance, as it wasn’t something I was expecting to find there. The number of students and people practicing under freeway underpasses, next to Chiang Kai-shek Memorial around sunset, and other wide open spaces would astonish you. Also, I attended an all-female dance show once that had literally twenty-plus acts. I haven't even seen that in the U.S., so it's safe the say the dance scene is thriving there.
I found Nike’s stuff through her work on Dizzy Dizzo’s music video, "Radar" (choreo video). Dizzy's another Taiwanese artist I’m pretty intrigued by. She swings between styles pretty comfortably, from vintage J.Lo to acoustic to Iggy Azalea-like, but most of all I like her song “Stray Love,” which has production that is very Drive-esque, a sound I haven’t heard before in Taiwanese pop.
Dizzy (real name Dominique) is an Australian Born Taiwanese married to actor Sunny Wang, and he appears in a lot of her videos. Also, Dizzy’s videos certainly have an aesthetic that sticks out prominently from her Taiwanese contemporaries. Overall, I think she represents an interesting mix of what’s current but also throws in her own flair and influences. Special stuff.
And lastly, here's friend and my former dance class instructor Clio dancing in Ty's "美 國." Awhile ago Clio told me that there exists a documentary on Taiwan's burgeoning rap scene from twenty years ago. For the life of me I can't find this film but I would love to see it. Or to make a new one, but on dance instead.