Just Do-Re-Mi it

Why are we moved by a mob doing a song from "The Sound of Music"? One member of Salon's Table Talk community explains.

Published April 10, 2009 7:10PM (EDT)

Family Life 

Tinsel's Seaside Briny Wench Lodge 

Letterman - 06:45 pm Pacific Time - Apr 6, 2009 - #5495 of 5653

Now that I went back and watched the video a couple times, I think I see why people both here and on YouTube have such an emotional reaction to it.

The dancers are presenting the purest form of art imaginable: art simply and truly for the sake of art. I'm guessing that none (or at least very few) of them are professional dancers. More than likely they were people picked off the street and asked to perform in this piece of street theater (and that is really what it is in the end) who probably spent a few days, maybe weeks practicing and rehearsing this amazing video.

The rational part of my brain looks at this and says, "They're just repeating a bunch of moves they've practiced and rehearsed over and over to a song they now probably know by heart, if they didn't know it before."

But the emotional part of my brain looks at that video in total amazement and wonderment (is that even a word? it is now!) about what they did in that train station.

What they did was essentially represent the highest ideal of human enterprise: doing something together not because it's necessary but because it's good and it makes them feel good to do it for us and it makes us feel good to watch it.

Especially when you consider the framework of the song they're dancing to, a song from a musical that is set in one of the darkest chapters in all of human history. That song is then used as the backdrop for a wonderful dance routine performed by people who look, act, and dress like the rest of us, people who happen to be in a train station in Belgium but could be anywhere on the planet.

What they are presenting to the people in that station (and the rest of us, of course) is the ideal of human co-operation. They're showing us the possibility that a bunch of unrelated, unconnected people could spontaneously burst into a song and dance routine in a train station because that's what they all wanted to do and that's what we could do too, if we set our minds to it.

Sure, on a rational level, you look at that and think it's staged, choreographed, preplanned, etc. but that's not the point (even if it adds to the majesty of the moment in its own way) of the exercise.

The point is to show all of us that it's possible and in that regard, they succeeded spectacularly and for me at least, have helped restore my sense of being a part of something larger than myself.

They have shown me a little bit of what it is to be human again. To be human is to wonder, to wonder about all sorts of things, both big and small, and to wonder how a group of people could have pulled that off in a busy train station in Antwerp in the middle of the day.

To be human is to wonder, and those dancers have helped me to reawaken my sense of wonder.

They managed to punch right through my cynicism and show me that good things are still out there and there are good people in the world.

They have shown me that if 200 people can do this in a train station, then maybe there is still hope for us as a species and as individual human beings.

In a small way, I have a deeper understanding of what it is to be human because of the actions of 200 fellow humans in a train station in Belgium.

For that, I am ever grateful to those dancers.

Best of Table Talk is an ongoing feature of Salon's vibrant community forum. Older posts of the week may be found in TT. Want to join the discussion? Sign up  here. 

By Table Talk

MORE FROM Table Talk

Related Topics ------------------------------------------