Tag Archives: reflection

Movie Review: Swing Kids

5 Feb

Dance is a form of movement. Not just the one made by the body to the rhythm of the music, but how people unite and become a strong unit to protect their society. It is a creative yet powerful way to rebel against those who fail to understand one’s ideals and belief. It’s inviting and moving.

Swing Kids is a movie about a group of kids, the “Swing Kids”, whose passion was dancing the Swing or Jitterbug. The Nazis tried to control their “dance parties” as they believe that through their music and dance, they are rebelling against Hitler and Nazism. Occasionally these kids got into fights with the brownshirts of the Hitler Youth brigades. This was in Nazi Germany during 1939.

The main plot of the movie is not really dancing but how it creates a powerful way of self expression and idealism. Instead of joining the Army, Peter, Thomas and the rest of their group used dance as a form of political outlet. Since during this period, Hitler was already proposing a holocaust against the Jews, the Swing Kids did not allow themselves to be pressured to join HJ, because they would rather do something that they are passionate about than embark themselves into a world where they know they will end up dead. But due to a bad timing of stealing a baker’s radio, Peter was forced to join HJ. Thomas, claiming he is Peter’s friend, joined HJ as well to give Peter his support. They were both enjoying the best of both worlds: HJ in the morning; being Swing Kids at night. Unfortunately, Thomas was brainwashed into the Nazi ideals and clouded his judgement. This cause the life of one of their friends. War was between the two friends and eventually, Peter had to resign himself to what he truly loves to do, dancing. At the end, he ended up being joined in the work group just because he stuck with his belief that he would rather be free than become a Nazi.

In the movie, it was shown that dancing was prohibited during the Hitler period because the Nazis believe that the music that was played during dance parties brings hidden message to the people who join. And since they don’t play German/Nazi music, they are threatened that their people will be turning against them. This clearly shows that dancing can be a very successful propaganda when dealing with political issues. Even the music that is being played affected the beliefs of the Nazis that’s why they would require the song played on the radio be a German song. This shows their nationalism.

Even if I got dizzy watching the actors dance in the film (due to fast and jerky movements. I’m a ballerina, I’m used to seeing fluid and graceful movements. Sorry. 😉 ), I was able to appreciate the beauty of the dances there. I admit that they aren’t my cup of tea and you will not see me dance the Jitterbug or even a swing that often but the movie somehow opened my mind to a new perspective in dance. One positive factor was that I got into the music (old songs are my favorite) so that added to the charisma of the film. 🙂

Swing Kids does not only show how people were able to come up with a way to rebel against the Nazis but it also showed how dance can be a strong and an effective way of communicating with people.

Preface-Chapter 1*

22 Nov

*from the book “Dancing: The Pleasure, Power, and Art of Movement” by Gerald Jonas

Dancing has been a part of me for most of my life. For me, it is life. I started to learn ballet at the age of 3 and continued it until the age of 14. When I reached high school, I tried to venture into other dance forms, engaging in cheer dancing and modern jazz. I was so fascinated with modern jazz but I started to miss ballet. I went back to it and continued my formal training again in both classical and modern ballet when I was in 3rd year college. Since then, I became a professional dancer and did not attempt to go out of my “comfort zone”. I always relate my experiences in life to dance. It greatly influenced my decisions, actions and behavior that I consider the world as my stage and everyday is a performance.

How to do a pirouette turn

Dance was mysterious. I agree with the author of the Preface when she said that. I can relate with it because I experienced the things that she wrote about it. My ballet teacher always said that you can never get a perfect pirouette turn. Even the professional dancers cannot keep a perfect turn consistently. There are going to be times that he/she won’t be able to do a triple, quadruple or the most number that he/she can do. It always take time and patience from a dancer to execute a clean and “perfect” turn. And when you push yourself to your limit, you can never have your desired outcome. You might fall out of balance or even injure your feet. There will be serious consequences if you got the timing wrong. Dance always has that rule.

I also agreed with the author when she said “Dance, like language, is found in all human societies. And like language, dance has power.” Dance has influenced a lot of people from different societies. It creatively describes the values, aesthetics and mores of a culture. This phrase is somehow related to “Actions speaks louder than words.” The body is the most effective vehicle for people to communicate with each other. The power of every movement describes every fiber of the being and the raw emotions that are being portrayed are what captivates and influences the audience. Dance is the universal language of the human soul. And to understand this language, people must open their selves to the culture from which dance came from so that we can gain insight into it. But we should also consider that even if it is a universal activity of humans, it does not play the same role in every culture. The meaning and importance of dance to a culture still depend on the mores, values and beliefs of a society/culture.

Folk dance and culture of Rajasthan.

Chapter 1 talks about the power of dance, how it defines the culture and reflects their beliefs. The author mentioned that dance is linked to cultural identity that when people disagree about the meaning and value of specific dances, they get confused and may lead to contempt, anger and violence. This shows that dance is one’s own opinion, too personal, that everybody should respect them. After reading the chapter, I realized that the Western culture had a great impact on the revisions of the dances. Due to their religious belief, the societies that they have influenced changed immensely. Their strong belief that dance shows paganism or worshiping the pagan gods showed that they don’t value the essence of the dance but the political aspect of it. And many traditional dances have been wiped out of that society’s history and the people are confused of their identity already.

Dance also has the power to serve as a rallying point for social consciousness. Because words can cause too much damage, societies have resorted to movements that will voice out their opinions. Dance is such a powerful instrument for change.

Action speaks louder than words.

Dance is not only a series of steps or movements, it is more than what the human mind can comprehend. Every movement defines the identity of a culture. It can also be a tool for expressing your self. Dance is a creative way of showing the history of a society. It is not only limited to those who have a background, it is for everyone. Dance changes with every body that dances, it changes with the time, the country, even the weather. It does not have one history but many.

The power of dance is to challenge the people to shape their own society and culture.