Music Hath Charms: Let’s Dance and Sing for World Peace

by Suzanne on August 8, 2012

Lately I find myself working deep into the night, stumbling to bed so exhausted it takes another couple of hours to fall asleep.  Needless to say, the sleep I do get is hardly refreshing.  I wake in the morning already tired, and usually later than I planned, which sets me back on everything I need to accomplish.


It seems counterintuitive then, to sit at the computer for an extra forty-five minutes watching flash mobs on YouTube.


Most of the videos are filmed by someone in the crowd, continually jockeying for a line of sight to the action.  The joggling, the tilting of the horizon, combine for an unsettling view.  The worst are those filmed by cameramen who dash from one end of the production to the other, zoom in and out on individuals every microsecond, and create a stomach-rolling challenge for the viewer.


But last night, before I shut down for the night, I opened an email from my sister that linked to a smile-producing, good-feeling production with minimum dizzying camera swoops.


Let your mind drift back in time… to an American show tune written by Irving Berlin in 1929.  The Hollywood of that era was all about stunning production numbers, beautiful and fantastic costumes, and truly talented performers.  Berlin’s “Puttin’ on the Ritz” was a perfect vehicle for just that.  So much so, that Harry Richman made a movie that featured the song.  The movie’s name?  Putting on the Ritz, of course. 


The song has since been featured in at least five other movies.  (If you’re too young to remember, or have never seen the older movies, perhaps you recall the Gene Wilder/Peter Boyle duet in Young Frankenstein.  Or if you’re even younger, the Alvin and the Chipmunks version, anyone?)  Dozens of singers have put their own swing on this favorite.


The syncopated rhythm of the verse playing tag with the march-like chorus makes you want to jump up to dance and strut along every time you hear the melody.  The lyrics are simple, inviting you to enjoy “a wonderful time.”


Now, leap forward in time, to Moscow in 2012.  Hundreds of Russian youths show up on February 26, and create an energetic, precisely choreographed, entertaining event based on the song written by a Russian-born American Jew whose last name is the the capital of a country with which their grandparents went to war, sung in the language of another nation with which theirs jousted for supremacy for decades.


There’s nothing of the hours of practice, or the counting time and steps visible here.  There’s not a glimpse of how the extreme cold affects them as they dance and jump.  The faces of these young mobbers radiate the joy and energy of the music… for these few minutes they are each a part of the music, as the music is a part of them.


There’s surely few better ways to illustrate how powerful the emotions evoked by melody and lyrics about shared feelings and experiences are.  And in every instance where we share life experiences and the emotions those experiences feed, we begin to understand each other.  Through understanding, we take one more step to a peace-filled world.


So here’s a toast to even greater unification and understanding through the universal language of music.



“Now, if you’re blue and you don’t know where to go to…”


(Go full screen for this one – there’s so much going on you’ll be glad you did.)



Thank you, Mr. Berlin!


Leave a comment and tell us which music that makes you secretly dance and let loose of your cares.


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