Imagine a feature film-length music video filled with some of the most energetic dancing you ever did see, and some of the most toe-tapping, catchy music you ever did hear. This is Girl Walk // All Day (2011, dir. Jacob Krupnick): a seventy minute exploration of dance, joy, and love, set against the backdrop of beautiful New York City. Here’s the official summary:
Girl Walk // All Day is a feature-length dance music video and tale of urban exploration that follows three dancers across New York City. They turn the city’s sidewalks, parks, and architecture into an evolving stage as they spread their joy of movement. The film is about self-discovery and love, and it’s a tale about finding community and vitality in shared public spaces.
Girl Walk // All Day stars three main dancers: Anne Marsen as ‘the girl’, whose dance style is more interpretive or modern; Daisuke Omiya as ‘the gentleman’, who fuses tap and modern dance; and John Doyle as ‘the creep’, who does more urban dance with a robotic flavour whilst wearing a skeleton tracksuit. The film has a loose narrative, following ‘the girl’ as she spontaneously dances her way through NYC after escaping her stuffy and structured ballet class, and eventually ends up in a love triangle of dance with the two men. The film is set to the entirety of Girl Talk’s All Day album, which ensures that the dancing is always changing and adapting to its musical environment, as the feel of each song has the tendency to change with each sample that is mixed in.
It’s filmed with what seems to be several hand-held cameras to capture each dance sequence from a number of angles, in order to take in the totality of a scene – the dancer, the surrounding environment, and the stunned and quizzical people of the city as they watch on. One dance sequence was also filmed from an iMac’s webcam within an Apple store, which I thought was a pretty interesting and daring angle. It’s interesting to see the bystander effect occurring – in many cases, people don’t even bat an eyelid at all the amazing dancing happening around them, but when they do, it’s so funny to see. There’s also an amazing sequence filmed from within a train on the subway. The director has made great use of all the diverse environments available in the city, whether it’s at a park, a shopping centre, the streets, and public transportation system. Through dancing in a traditionally non-dancing space, the film turns regular, communal spaces into places where art can be made.
What makes this film so special is not just the music and the dancing, but the way it makes you feel. There are moments of humour that will make you laugh, such as one sequence where we watch boats float past on the Hudson River set to Missy Elliott’s ‘Get Ur Freak On’. There are more poignant and reflective moments that will make you feel melancholy. But overall, despite the peaks and troughs of mood, the film gives off a pure feeling of joy and energy that is so infectious. Slowly, as the whole city begins to join in and dance with ‘the girl’, the film builds to a beautiful conclusion that feels almost inspirational.
I will say though that your appreciation of this film depends on your enjoyment of cheesy, glitchy mash-ups of classic songs, popular songs, and rap music. Confession: I enjoy it, a lot. Girl Talk’s All Day album, released in 2010, is one of my favourite albums because it makes me feel happy and energised whenever I listen to it. The trailer is probably a good test of whether you would be able to handle Girl Talk’s music for seventy minutes straight, although the music in the film has a lot more swearing and sexual language due to the copious rap music that is sampled throughout. However, it also has many more interesting samples from all over the musical universe, and it’s a lot of fun to try and figure out where all the samples come from.
I’ve read Girl Walk // All Day described as a “blast of joy”, and I would completely agree with that assessment. You might not like the music or the style of dance, but I would challenge anyone to find anything that is a better representation of pure happiness in film format. The overall feeling that I got from this film was that it was a celebration of art and life, and that’s certainly not something that you see every day.
Watch the trailer here.
Or: Watch the entire film here!