I recently stumbled upon a short dance film that seemed to keep popping up on my Facebook feed. I finally watched the short and was overcome with a strange juxtaposition of anxiety and tranquility. These are two emotions that don’t often pair together, and I certainly wasn’t expecting them when I clicked on the two-and-a-half-minute dance clip. But the short showed so much more than just some beautiful choreography.
The dance begins with the lead woman waking up in the morning, wedding magazines and a ring box splayed on her side table, and a bouquet of flowers on the pillow next to her. She gazes at her engagement ring and sighs—as I, viewing the video, let out a sigh, too. She leaves her apartment and enters a picturesque New York City spring day. Wherever she goes, she is dancing—in Central Park, with her neighbors in the middle of her block, and by the waterfront. She dances and dances and dances—her feelings of love embodied in her movement. And at the last moment, her fiancé¬¬—a woman—greets her in the park and the two walk away together…with a quick smile back to the audience.
“The Goin’ is Great” was choreographed by Chip Abbott (On the Town) with cinematography by Shayla Benoit of Shady Theatrics. Kelsey Andres stars as the leading dancer in the piece, with a handful of ensemble dancers that join her.
The camera cuts to all different locations, but the dancing is seamless and fluid as if she were performing in front of a green screen. The movement is reminiscent of dancers of yore—coy shoulder shrugs and soft shoe phrases of Bob Fosse, expansive and explosive reaches and jumps like Jerome Robbins, dizzying directional changes and turning sequences like in Michael Bennett’s “Cassie dance,” and sautés where elevation comes purely from elation á la Gene Kelly.
Andres dances with such joy and abandon; you cannot take your eyes off her. We’ve all heard the saying, “Dance expresses joy better than anything else” (Bob Fosse). “The Goin’ is Great” is the epitome of that quote. It celebrates love. It tells a story through movement, humor, acting, and cinematography.
And what's more, it makes you think. When I clicked to watch the video, I thought it was so charming, but I also thought I knew the whole story before it even began. I was honestly surprised by the twist at the end—that the fiancé was a woman. So, I wondered…why was I surprised by this ending? The movement vocabulary, storyline, and gestures were all familiar to me. I realized that I expected the fiancé to be a man just because that’s what we’re usually shown—in books, movies, theater, and even dance. Gay representation is still not very common in the performing arts, and lesbian representation even less so.
“The Goin’ is Great” illustrates that the joy, giddiness, and peace that one feels when he or she is in love are universal. As a viewer, you connect to the story and the emotions of the leading dancer…and if you are surprised by or even disagree with the “twist” at the ending, ask yourself why.