Art Troupe WIFE Brings Spellbinding Performance To LA’s Hammer Museum

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Step inside the world of WIFE and witness a mystical phenomena. Born of three Los Angeles-based dancers, (Jasmine Albuquerque, Kristen Leahy, and Nina McNeely), she is known as A Trinity of Illusory Performance Makers.

WIFE creates an all senses engaged theatrical experience. If you have seen her live you know it’s a full body—and out of body—experience. Through projected body-mapping animations, sculpture, light, self-crafted music, costumes and choreography, WIFE makes the imaginary a reality. Although, when you’re in her performance presence it feels more like a fleeting moment of surreality—an electric alternate reality you want to stay suspended in.


 

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On Wednesday, June 22, WIFE (represented by Maavven) brings her latest creation, Enter The Cave, to Hammer Museum in LA. Loosely based on Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, Enter the Cave is a story of transformation and transcendence told through illusion. The performance is meant to rearrange our notions of reality, space, and time.

The free performance begins in the Hammer Museum Courtyard at 7:30PM PST and can be live streamed, here.

High on Bach: The Breakdancing Black Swans of Chicago

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I haven’t been to the ballet since my parents brought me to The Nutcracker during the holidays when I was like six. I believe we left during intermission because I intentionally fell asleep in hopes of visions of sugar plums dancing in my head. Didn’t happen. Later in life, I’d find myself attending University of the Arts where I majored in Musical Theater, which is essentially majoring in social suicide. (This was long before Glee.) Anyway, it was all fun and gaymes (hehe) until ballet class, a required course that haunted me more than being forced to dissect a moldy cat in high school anatomy class. I did not sign up for this mess! I packed on the freshman fifteen (maybe thirty…) and I was suddenly being shrieked at to sashay my fat ass across the dance floor in tights whilst the pianist twinkled out classical music! I could deal with the (always bloody) ballet slippers and tights, but the real nightmarish deal breaker was the “dance belt” aka a MAN THONG. Your mom brought you school shopping to Target for binders and Martha Stewart shower curtains, mine brought me man thong shopping. Meanwhile, I just wanted to major in pop star!! Pelvic thrusting, shimmying, etc. THAT’S MY JAM. In other words, I’m now a proud musical theater college dropout.

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So, yeah, I was certain anything remotely “classical” had forever damaged me. This weekend, that all changed. I found myself at Chicago’s historic and gorgeous Civic Opera House to attend the opening of Red Bull Flying Bach. You read that right. The press release explained that four-time breakdance world champions aptly known as The Flying Steps would “combine contemporary hip-hop power moves with live classical music.” WHAT! I live for break-dancing. It’s so spectacular and impressive and frightening, especially when the kids on the L train decide to go HAM on the subway poles. In the past, I related attending a ballet with taking too much Xanax, but Flying Bach gave me wings — aka it was presented by Red Bull, which meant I sipped vodka (blueberry!) red bulls whilst watching the show, most of the time with my jaw perma-dropped as a result of the killer choreography. The show gave me (so much) life, as the kids these days say. Guests wore suits and cocktail dresses whilst cheering like it was a hip-hop concert, ooh-ing and ahh-ing like it was a wild magic show. I watched as seven very good-looking male break dancers popped and locked and frenetically twirled on their heads to Bach and electro beats. I’m not kidding. It’s really difficult to explain the amazingness of it all. Lots of goosebumps happened. It gave me West Side Story (there’s a love story!) meets Stomp vibes. And in a sea of dudes, there was Swedish dancer Anna Holmström, who mixed it up by adding in ballet perfection (those leaps!) before (spoiler alert) joining the boys to break-dance her booty off for the explosive finale. In other words, y’all really need to head over to the OMFG adrenaline-exploding life-giving experience that is Red Bull Flying Bach. The final shows are this weekend in Chicago — get the golden tickets right here, right now.

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Post-show, I hit up the backstage where I fanned out/attempted flirting with The Flying Steps. I also chatted with the leading lady, the spectacular sizzling superstar aka Anna Holmström. Check out our cute chit-chat below. And, forreal, open another credit card, grab a few Red Bull and get thee to Chicago!!! Feel more than free to thank me later.

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Opening night!! How did you think it went?

Good! We got a lot of good responses from the audience. Even when I was not on stage, I was listening and checking out how they were reacting. We had standing ovations! That’s usually a good sign.

Any pre-show rituals?

I think everyone has his or her own ways of warming up, but I usually do a ballet bar, some stretching, and some hip-hop moves to get into the ending routines from the show.

Was breakdancing easy for you?

No, it’s not easy! I’m getting bruises everywhere. But with these guys, it’s easy to exchange movements. Also, the contemporary flow has some similarities to breaking on the floor. I’ve always been fascinating by breakdancing since I was a kid. For me, this project is perfect. I’ve been learning a lot.

Do you get along with the guys?

Yeah, we do! It’s like having seven brothers. Depending on situations, they’re bigger brothers or smaller brothers. We’re having a lot of fun.

You’re the only female in the show. Did you feel the pressure to stand out?

I think it’s important to know that I’m me. I’m not copying and trying to be a guy, it’s important to show my own originality in myself. I’m actually feeling like Beyoncé or Madonna when I go on stage, especially at the end of the show when I breakdance. To give a lot of power! They know who they are when they’re on stage. I’m just having a lot of fun.

So, is the Black Swan terrifyingly competitive vibes of a ballerina’s life true?

There’s not so many jobs — that’s the truth. And of course you’re competing amongst your friends to get the same job. But I’ve never felt bad if I wouldn’t get a job if I knew that I did all I could. And if I know that my friend is better than me and she got the job, I would be happy for her. Of course, if I feel that I did a better job, I would be angry. But sometimes they’re looking for someone with blonde hair or dark hair and blue eyes… so I think that instead of using the competition in a negative way, you can use it to get better and just think of always improving. It’s really nice in breakdancing, because when I’m watching them practice, they’re a little bit competitive but not in a negative way. They’re just trying to make themselves better.

What’s your dream job?

I actually want to create my own company and be the artistic director and choreographer. I’m starting to think about finding the dancers I want to work with. And incorporate subjects of today — how we look at things differently in society.

What was the most challenging number for you in the show?

I think all of them are really hard!

Images courtesy of Red Bull

Explore The Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Dance on Camera Series

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In its myriad styles and variations, the art of dance is truly one of the most beautiful forms of physical expression. And whether you’re watching a performance live on stage before you or captured on film, the emotionally engaging and stunning work of dance is always a sight to behold. And in 1971, the Dance on Camera Festival had its inaugural run, presenting a vast array of films that crossed over from documentaries and experimental works to shorts and music videos. It began as a celebration of “ immediacy of dance combined with the intimacy of film.”

And now, in its 42nd year, Dance Films Association have again collaborated with  Film Society of Lincoln Center to present 2014’s festival—and this time around, its scope is just as broad and fascinating as we’d hope for. Beginning this Friday, they’ll be showing films that highlight dances modern  “trend toward unusual collaborations (dance and skating, dance and horses, dance and circus) and a recognition that dance thrives best in the bosom of a creative community.”

From rare retrospective screenings such as Chantal Akerman’s 1983 Pina Bausch documentary One Day Pina Asked… to brilliant world premiere’s like Miss Hill: Making Dance Matter, this is one festival you’re going to want to throw yourself into completely. So to celebrate, we’re giving you a taste of what will be playing at the Walter Reade Theater beginning this weekend. So peruse the films below, slip into something you can move your body in freely, and enjoy.

Repères sur la modern dance Pina Bausch : Un jour Pina a demandé

ONE DAY PINA ASKED…, Chantal Akerman (1983)

A fortuitous encounter between two icons of film and dance, Pina Bausch and Chantal Akerman, One Day Pina Asked… is Akerman’s singular look at the work of the remarkable choreographer and her Wuppertal Tanztheater during a five-week European tour. More than a conventional documentary, Akerman’s film is a journey through her world, a world composed of striking images and personal memories transformed. Capturing the company’s rehearsals and including performance excerpts from signature works such as Komm Tanz Mit Mir (Come Dance with Me, 1977) and Nelken (Carnations, 1982), the director applies her unique visual skills to bring us close to her enigmatic subject. Writing about the film, Richard Brody in The New Yorker, said “”With her audacious compositions, decisive cuts and tightrope-tremulous sense of time-and her stark simplicity-it shares, in a way that Wenders film doesn’t, the immediate exhilaration of the moment of creation.” An Icarus Films release.

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MISS HILL: MAKING DANCE MATTER, Greg Vander Veer (2014)

Miss Hill: Making Dance Matter tells the inspiring and largely unknown story of a woman whose life was defined by her love for dance. Martha Hill emerges as dance’s secret weapon, someone who fought against great odds to establish dance as a legitimate art form in America. Through archival footage, lively interviews with friends and intimates, and rare footage of the spirited subject, the film explores Hills’s arduous path from a Bible Belt childhood in Ohio to the halls of academe at NYU and Bennington College to a position of power and influence as Juilliard’s founding director of dance (1952-1985).  Peppered with anecdotal material delivered by dance notables who knew her, this revelatory story depicts her struggles and successes, including the battle royal that accompanied her move to the Lincoln Center campus. (Photo by Thomas Bouchard.)

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PAUL TAYLOR: CREATIVE DOMAIN, Kate Geis (2013)

Paul Taylor is one of the dance world’s most elusive and admired choreographers. For over 50 years, he has only given glimpses into his creative process, but for his 133rd dance, Three Dubious Memories, he opens the door and allows the filmmaker into his creative process. The dance he is choreographing is a Rashomon-like exploration of memory, three characters entangled in a relationship, each believing only in his own dark memory of it.  The dominant voice in the documentary is Taylor’s, and it is alternately soothing, demanding and amused. Between the guarded and unguarded moments, the viewer is witness to a mysterious work ethic that has created some of the most iconic modern dances of our time.

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ALL THIS CAN HAPPEN
, Sioban Davies and David Hinton (2012)

A flickering dance of intriguing imagery brings to light the possibilities of ordinary movements from the everyday which appear, evolve and freeze before your eyes. Made entirely from archive photographs and footage from the earliest days of moving image, All This Can Happen follows the footsteps of the protagonist from the short story “The Walk” by Robert Walser. Juxtapositions, different speeds and split-frame techniques convey the walker’s state of mind as he encounters a world of hilarity, despair and ceaseless variety. Hinton is an award-winning director who has worked with some of the best known names in contemporary dance, including DV8 Physical Theatre, Siobhan Davies, and Russell Maliphant.

Shipstads and Johnson's Ice Follies Roy Shipstad and Bess Ehrhardt


THE FABULOUS ICE AGE, Keri Pickett (2013)

The exciting journey begins in 1915 when a young German skater ignites America’s love with dancing on ice. The Fabulous Ice Age chronicles a century of theatrical skating, from Berlin’s Charlotte, to America’s Ice Follies, Ice Capades, Holiday on Ice, and the Sonja Henie shows, illustrating how these big spectaculars dominated live entertainment for decades while simultaneously depicting one particular skater’s quest to share this history. Never before seen footage, photos and rare archival material introduce us to a handful of skaters, producers and entrepreneurs who helped change their world.

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GISELLE, Toa Fraser (2013)

Director Toa Fraser brings The Royal New Zealand Ballet to the big screen, capturing their acclaimed production of the ballet classic Giselle. Ethan Stiefel and Johan Kobborg have re-staged the production (after Petipa) with an eye toward the inherent drama of the tragic romance. The two-act ballet has been reimagined by Fraser, who interweaves the filmed stage performance with behind the scenes moments that hint at a romance between the dancers. ABT principal Gillian Murphy and RNZ’s Qi Huan perform the doomed lovers with impressive conviction and the second act captures the haunting essence of this enduring masterpiece.

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HASTDANS PA HOVDALA, David Fishel (2013)

Imagine a life devoted to blending the artistry of dance with the physicality of horsemanship! That is exactly what the unconventional choreographer JoAnna Mendl Shaw has done with Equus Projects. Her previous large-scale works for dancers and horses have been produced throughout the United States. Now, she takes her company to Sweden to work with new elements and new friends in the rural countryside. Ulrike Michels Nord, director of Klinten Kultur, a company of young adults with autism, opens the way for the American choreographer to create a magical piece that expresses the joys and challenges of bringing together unfamiliar beasts (the new horses), trainers, professional dancers and autistic individuals to make a work of art in a mystical setting—the Hovdala castle and library ruin deep in a forest. The challenge is to accomplish this feat in just 12 days.

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HOW LIKE AN ANGEL
, Yaron Lifschitz (2012)

This bold collaboration of music and movement blends Circa’s exhilarating brand of contemporary circus with the exquisite sound of I Fagiolini’s choral singing. How Like an Angel, commissioned by the London 2012 Festival, celebrates the beauty and grandeur of three stunning English cathedrals while displaying the artistry of the circus performers. Polyphonic Films captures the live performance brilliantly, catching the essence of this ground-breaking collaboration. Film commissioned by The Space in association with BBC.

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LA PASSION NOUREEV
, Fabrice Herrault (2013)

From the moment of his dramatic leap to freedom at Paris’ Bourget Airport in 1961, Rudolf Nureyev was embraced as a ballet idol. On the 20th anniversary of his death, Fabrice Herrault, a notable New York ballet teacher and film collector trained at the Paris Opera Ballet and the Conservatoire, has assembled an impressionistic tribute film that showcases this Byronic artist in some of his peerless early performances through archival footage, much of it previously unseen, revealing “Rudi” at the peak of his powers. As director of the Paris Opera Ballet, Noureev guided the careers or rising stars, among them Sylvie Guillem and Isabelle Guérin. Former Paris Opera Ballet star, Isabelle Guérin, will join the filmmaker and French dance historian Helene Ciolkovitch, to share memories of her mentor.

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THE MAN BEHIND THE THRONE
, Kersti Grunditz (2013)

Until now, Vincent Paterson has remained the dance world’s best kept secret, avoiding the spotlight and concentrating on the work itself. So it may come as a surprise to learn that he is, as the film’s title suggests, the man behind the careers of superstars Michael Jackson and Madonna—in fact, the inventor of some of their defining dance moves—as well as the choreographer who created the ensemble dance numbers for Björk and dancers in Lars von Trier’s Dancer in the Dark. Through previously unseen rehearsal footage from Paterson’s own private collection and iconic films clips that made history (Smooth Criminal, Blonde Ambition and more), the film looks at the private Vincent. From his family oriented Catholic boyhood in suburban Pennsylvania to the glamor factory of Hollywood and the heady experience of choreographing for Cirque du Soleil’s Viva Elvis!, this is a personal and professional journey to be savored.

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PRIMA
, TATYANA BRONSTEIN (2013)

Prima is a moving portrait of Larissa Ponomarenko, prima ballerina of the Boston Ballet, who has recently hung up her pointe shoes to pursue new avenues of self-expression. Through flashbacks to her journey from a difficult childhood and rigorous ballet training in Russia to her emergence as the prima ballerina of a leading American ballet company, the film captures Larissa’s uniqueness as an artist of many emotional colors. Now, as she transitions from prima ballerina to mentor to aspiring dancers, she also magically re-invents herself as a dancer, showing a new expressivity and a more modern approach to her art in filmed improvisations in unexpected settings—a field, a forest, even a subway station!

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THE UNSEEN SEQUENCE, Sumantra Ghosal (2013)

The Unseen Sequence finds new meanings and renewed vigor in India’s classical dance tradition through one dedicated disciple. Malavika Sarukkai is a celebrated Bharatanatyam dancer rooted in that tradition but imbued with a uniquely contemporary sensibility that she exerts on this prescribed form, turning each performance into a new, revelatory experience. As a superb interpreter of Bharatanatyam’s rhythmic and expressive aspects, she is the perfect guide for this investigation of an ancient art that has evolved from temple dance to court entertainment to a new, more universal model. Beautifully shot in temples and sacred sites, the film blends interviews, historic footage, and performance to create a truly mind enhancing experience.

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DANCE ON CAMERA SHORTS PROGRAM
, Various 

The short form is gaining ground as the ideal platform for exploring the relationship between dance and film. These filmmakers dare to push the envelope in original ways.

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MEET THE ARTIST WITH JONATHAN DEMME ANNIE-B PARSON

Director Jonathan Demme and choreographer Annie-B Parson join Dance on Camera for the recurring Meet the Artist series, a program which provides audiences a dynamic opportunity to learn from a filmmaker’s expertise with a particular focus on the influence and inclusion of dance film within the filmmaker’s body of work.

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SEBSASTIAN RICH: BULLETS TO BALLET

After 30 years of filming and photographing the world’s most violent wars and conflicts, award-winning British photographer Sebastian Rich is turning his lens to something more beautiful but no less powerful—the world of dance. Rich will join choreographer Igal Perry and Dance on Camera co-curator Liz Wolff to explore his photography and his journey from bullets to ballet.

Super Linda More Than Super, Three-Day Pop-Up This Weekend at Chrystie 141

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Bingo was riotous as usual. Murray Hill and I talked about his May tour with Dita Von Teese. After all that, we kissed our crew goodnight and walked the cool night to Chinatown. The Wo in Wo Hop still stands for wonderful. Encouraged by hearty soups and dumplings, we braved the cold night to visit Matt Abramcyk and Serge Becker’s newish hot spot Super Linda. My dear friend Travis Bass was blowing up my phone, begging me to come. We passed The Odeon and I told Amanda that 20-something years ago it was the hottest place in New York. Today it is just perfectly amazing. We entered Super Linda and immediately knew it was just super. There, a small, sharp set were lounging casually in booths and tables. Vance Bookings held court, surrounded by all his unusually beautiful suspects. I introduced Amanda to Cordell Lochin, and he and I exchanged the secret handshake and a hearty hug. The deep booth had Serge Becker and his crew of hip jet-setters talking the talk. Serge got  up and gave me the tour. He explained how the new lights for the dining room had not arrived as of yet and that there were still some finishing touches to the design coming in the next two weeks or so. I loved it. The downstairs had the right amount of hiding spots and comfy booths and there was some great detailing to the paneled wood walls. It’s opening soon. We talked a bit more about the biz and small wonders and then I visited the always excitable Travis Bass at the bar.

He introduced me to Richie Cheung, the owner of that 141 Chrystie space. I exclaimed "OMG (I say that sometimes), you must hate me." I reminded him that I had written a scathing review of his place when it opened. He said, "Oh, you’re Steve Lewis! No hard feelings. You were just doing your job and we’ve made many changes for the better." I loved Richie. I would have popped me in the nose . I felt so strongly about it I almost popped me in the nose. Instead I promised to visit the new and improved space Friday. Travis ,as his norm, never shut up about this and that and what he was doing at 141. He gushed, "I am doing a three-day pop-up at 141 Chrystie Street from Thursday through Saturday next week. It will be a raging dance club party theme. Think Ibiza or rave party with the Red Egg crew and crowd. I am going to do giant balloons and projections and laser beams."

I’m always a sucker for giant balloons and laser beams, so I agreed to go Friday. Anyway, Travis wasn’t taking no for an answer. I couldn’t come Thursday, I explained, as I am DJing at Hotel Chantelle. I expected him to ask me to put on a long song …say "White Lines" and pop over for a hot minute to see his pop-up. He continued (he always continues), "Gonna bring back the old New York high-energy dance club! No more lounging bullshit! NYC is all about fun and we are bringing that back."

He told me he was doing dinner parties downstairs at Super Linda and I almost asked him if that wasn’t sort of "lounging bullshit," but I needed to get home before sun up to write this piece. New York needs Travis’ energy. We are so often ruled by the blasè. He may be a lot of things but he certainly isn’t blasè. We kissed everyone goodbye and headed to Brooklyn to our humble home and puppy and cat. I loved Super Linda; it’s intelligent and adult-offering in a nightlife world increasingly dominated by the unfabulous…the blasè.

Beauty Junkie: Turn Off The Lights and Glow

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It’s Friday, the end of a long week. You are likely sitting at your desk trying to figure out what plans you are going to follow through with tonight. The evening looks like it’s going to be a clear one with no sign of rain for at least a few days. Those cold winter days are behind us and you’ve probably hung up your puffy coat for the season. The layers are shedding and if you are looking for a way to captivate the masses tonight (which you should be), take a look at this week’s Beauty Junkie for all the right tips to glow and flow around this city tonight. After you have jotted down everything you need to pick up at Sephora, sink in deep with the mesmerizing video shot in conjunction with this story, featuring the track "The Hours" by London-based artist Lapalux. Lapalux just released his first full length LP Nostalchic, so while you’re prepping to hit the town you might want to throw this on as well. 

Michael Jackson Dance Moves, Recreated In LEGOs

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Oh, the Internet.

 

Via Vimeo, Talking Animals, an animation studio out of Berlin, created this short spot of Michael Jackson’s signature dance moves out of the most ’90s of mediums: LEGOs.

Black, gray and white LEGOs comprise the King Of Pop’s body, including up-close shots of his feet. 

That must have taken a heck of a long time to do. It’s too bad Talking Animals wasn’t able to set Jackson’s dancing to his actual music; instead the only audio is the sound of shoes shuffling.

Watch below:

Contact the author of this post at Jessica.Wakeman@Gmail.com. Follow me on Twitter.

Meet Ayman Safiah, Palestine’s Only Male Ballet Dancer

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The Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the suitability of men in tights are not subjects that Ayman Safiah wants to discuss. The 21-year-old Palestinian ballet dancer, now living in London, just wants to dance.

In a lovely profile by the BBC, Safiah describes how he became a student of Israel’s first-ever Arab dance studio, which just happened to be located in his hometown of Kafr Yassif in Galilee. His parents and grandparents kept an open mind about him being the only boy on ballet class, although he’s struggled for others to accept him. He told The National earlier this month, "If I went to a store and say I wanted ballet shoes, I would be looked at strangely because I was a boy; it was not acceptable."

For the past three years, Safiah has danced at the Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance in London. He was helped by the first female Palestinian ballet dancer, Rabeah Murkus, who saw his talent and helped him secure funding to study.

Others have not been so open-minded: Arabs have told him that a man dancing topless onstage is forbidden and against Islam. He is also facing possible discrimination by Jewish dance schools back home in Israel that may discriminate against him because he is Palestinian.

Not surprisingly, however, one of his favorite films — and most frequent comparisons — is Billy Elliot.

Watch Lord Gaga’s Bizarre ‘Arabs Got Talent’ Dance Routine

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Remember just three short years ago when Susan Boyle appeared on Britain’s Got Talent and delivered an instantly star-making performance? Well, this clip from a recent episode of Arabs Got Talent, featuring an annoying (and just plain bad) Lady Gaga-inspired dance routine by a man who calls himself "Lord Gaga," is pretty much the opposite. And yet, somehow, the judges put him through to the next round. Seriously! Also: Why?! The video, via ONTD, is after the jump.

Good Morning, Here’s a Super Slo-Mo Video of Two Ballet Dancers Set to Radiohead

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Hi there! I’m Matt, I’m six, and I’m a beauty queen. Coincidentally, I’m also going to be hanging out here for the next two days keeping you company–and hopefully keeping you entertained, as well. Speaking of which…

Do you like ballet? What about Radiohead? Oh, and videos shot in super slow-motion, are you a fan of those? If so, then you’ll love this mesmerizing clip of Berlin State Ballet dancers Marina Kanno and Giacomo Bevilaqua showing off their skills at 1,000 frames per second, all set to Radiohead’s "Everything in Its Right Place."

Happy Saturday! [via The Daily What]