I’ll be the first to admit that a lot of dance confuses me. I’m not talking about Michael Jackson and his slippery moonwalk, or breakdancing, or even ballroom dancing. Obviously that shit is dope. But if I’m in a crowd, and someone comes on a stage with coloured ribbons in their hands, wearing a skin-tight leotard, and says something like, “For my first performance I’m going to do a representation of Spring,” I will gently (and instantly) whisper under my breath, “god-fucking-dammit” and slouch further into my seat. Something in my brain has a difficult time connecting the movement of ballet dancers with the music in ballet. I’m down with the tunes. But when I see the dancers moving and jumping around stage I think, “what the fuck is this shit?” Of course, after a performance, I will say things like, “it obviously took a lot of work”, and, “they’re so flexible and strong”, and, “I really admire their dedication.” You know, all those things you say when you have no idea what the fuck just happened.
Wayne McGregor is a master in a world I don’t understand. In fact, he may be the biggest swinging dick of high-concept dance stuffed into a leotard. He has choreographed movements for Radiohead, Atoms for Peace, and The Chemical Brothers. He was the movement director for the movies Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, The Legend of Tarzan, and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. But it really wasn’t until Jlin threw throw down some new tunes for him, that I decided to check his shit out.
If you don’t know Jlin, you need to check out her last album. It’s fucking awesome. It kind of took shit by storm. She went from working in a steel factory to being one of the most acclaimed electronic musicians out there. Now, she’s making remixes for Björk, Max Richter, and Ben Frost. Enough said. After her big 2017 album, Black Origami, she decided to take her open and electronic dance music over to ballet. How often do you hear club music with ballet? I never have. Until now that is.
Ya, I watched some of that shit. It was fucking awesome. It made sense to me right away. All the dancers looked like those kids hopped up on drugs at an electronic show, but just with a fuckton of dance talent. Highly enjoyable to watch. This album isn’t just club music. With Jlin, it’s never just club music. Some songs are dark, heavy, industrial, IDM inspired electronic compositions that I kept turning the fuck up. In between these songs, are minimalistic, atmospheric, and ambient tunes. Jlin can do no wrong. From there, I went on to watch more ballet, and more, and more. I went down a fucking ballet sized rabbit hole. I even saw a highly technical, and somehow erotic, ballet set to an orchestra version of “The Hardest Button to Button” by the White Stripes. Trippy shit.
I realized something on my strange journey. When art is done badly, it doesn’t look good. I can’t tell you how much terrible music I’ve listened to in my lifetime. Yet, I keep panhandling through these piles of shit because I know the gold is there. It seems, I’ve seen an unnatural amount of terrible ballet in my life. Given, most of the ballet I’ve seen was performed by Christian children (loooong fucking story), so maybe I judged the art too quickly. There’s something to ballet. This album opened up that world to me. Now, when an album does something like that, you know it’s fucking good.