To be a good dancer, one needs an innate sense of rhythm and style. Dance is not just the art of performing body movements; it is about revealing one’s soul and interpretation of one’s ideas. Being a physical and cognitive activity, it united many people worldwide who dedicated their lives to creating and exploring the unknown. Multiple dancers influenced this art and its types; however, some have contributed more by inventing new movements and directions (Gruner 265). One such person was James Brown, whose abilities overwhelmed the world of dancing. Therefore, this paper investigates how James Brown impacted modern dances and why his movements became increasingly popular.
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James Brown was an American singer, dancer, progenitor of funk music, and merely a grand figure in the world of dance and music. Being among the most influential specialists in the popular music of the twentieth century, his landmark achievements earned him the epithet “the most diligent man on Broadway” (Gruner 277). A sophisticated artist and artist with a unique sense of time, he was fundamental in bringing musicality to mainstream music’s bleeding edge. Besides his vocal innate abilities, his dancing skills were the center of attention among most severe critics.
Primarily, he became famous due to his signing skills and the invention of the funk. His fascinating shows were watched and copied time and time again. As a result of his hard work and dedication, he influenced such artists as Mick Jagger, Michael Jackson, and Prince (Furniss 5; Trzcinski 7). Yet, some people considered him the enemy because of his phenomenal fame. During her 50-year glorious career, James Brown released 17 singles that reached #1 on the Billboard charts and was credited to different fame halls worldwide (Perchard 35). He was also a supporter of social liberties and composed the 1968 colored people force anthem “Say it loud – I’m dark, and I’m proud.” He also impacted a much more varied range of artists in a roundabout way, encouraging performers to follow cadence and score rather than stick to banal melodic shows and structure.
Unlike Prince, who was almost like no other, James Brown spent 12 years in the business as a quintessential R&B professional before presenting his most famous creation: funk. Brown was the owner of the uncanny ability to “scream” on key, sing deep moderate numbers, and charge songs at a high tempo, use the cadential abilities of the human voice and instrumental backup (The Long+Short). Moreover, he could blend blues, gospel, jazz, and national vocal styles which made him one of the most compelling performers of the twentieth century. His unusual movement was scheduled with skillful use of microphones and clothing items such as props, aerobatic jumps full of knee-length arrivals, complex cadence examples, amazing footwork, and dramatic entrances (The Long+Short). These tricks were combined, thus, the public performance in well-known music and awakened centuries of imitators were redefined because no one else could do it like him.
James Brown’s music could make even the most rigid body get up on the dance floor and make a move. His immortal melodies have inspired artisans for centuries because he was the head of funk and was exemplified every time someone spoke about hip-hop. Today, there is not a single master of pop, hip-hop, or soul whose art was not influenced by James Brown (Perchard 91). He was a force of nature on record and in front of an audience, and his unthinkable moves were imitated by Bruno Mars, Michael Jackson, and many others.
The best part about his dances was that he created them entirely on his own. Choreographers and dance coaches were not approved when he wanted to demonstrate his dancing skills in front of an audience. His secret was simple: adding some soul to the performance and some fancy music. Brown believed that dance is much more than we think it is. The statement “the only thing that can solve the vast majority of our problems is the movement” is the most famous expression of James Brown, and certainly the most sensible one on this issue.
He presented some of the most distinguished movements, which are still imitated by numerous dancers across the globe. The so-called “reverse moonwalk” or the camel walk made him travel everywhere on the moving floor, affecting his shoulders from the side to agree with the style and pop music (Furniss 5). Even though this path of development existed for quite a long time before the appearance of James Brown, it added its flair and imitated it on his own. Besides, his “Funky Chicken” dance received much praise and applauds from the audience. (Valorose 4) However, the majority of people cannot make these movements look fascinating, as James Brown did. Moving one’s knees back and forth like a baby bird taking flight and waving arms all the time was quite a complicated trick for those who desired to dance like him. This charming move turned out to be not for the weak-willed.
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Another movement that brought him fame was named “Boogaloo Staple.” It got one’s feet wide with knees bouncing, and the entire body trembling (Valorose 5). This one was thought to be the easing one for those who wanted to imitate Brown’s dances. Nevertheless, his signature move was “The Mashed Potato,” with massive and hard footwork to balance (Valorose 6). Once the feet were on the dance floor, he started to shuffle back and forth, wriggling around the spot. “The Robot” motion implied stopping suddenly and moving hard like a mechanical person (Valorose 7). James brown managed to smoothly move from soft to hard movements and return to the routine ones. “The Split” was also one of James Brown’s masterpiece moves, which displayed all his adaptability, magnetism, and ability (Valorose 8). Reaching the floor was the easiest part of the performance, while the real challenge was to get up without any hesitation. This was indeed the final pitch to learn if one desired to move like James Brown.
In conclusion, it seems reasonable to state that James brown was an unusual example of a top-notch actor who was also a true trailblazer of the missing connection between Louis Jordan, who influenced him, and Prince, who was influenced by him. His dancing abilities influenced the art of dancing and made him a recognizable figure among his contemporaries. The movements he elaborated could drive people crazy because no one could repeat them. Brown’s rhythm, style, and techniques changed dances’ perception; thus, many singers and performers of the 20th century aimed to imitate his. In general, he might be considered the greatest contributor to the field of music and dance.
“Dance moves: James Brown’s Single-Handed Invention of Funk.” The Long+Short, Web.
Furniss, Tracey. “Whose Moves and Looks Inspired Michael Jackson, the Iconic ‘King of Pop’?” Style, Web.
Gruner, Oliver. Screening the Sixties. Palgrave Macmillan, 2016.
Perchard, Tom. From Soul to Hip Hop. Routledge, 2016.
Trzcinski, Michael. “The Rolling Stones: Mick Jagger Said He ‘Copied’ His Dance Moves From Another Singer.” Showbiz, Web.
Valorose, Sam. “6 James Brown Dance Moves To Make You Get Up Offa That Thing.” iHeart Radio, Web.