Matt Harding, a native of Connecticut, was working as a video-game designer in Australia. In his early 20’s, he found his work “insulating.” So he decided to quit his job and travel the world with a couple of friends. On a whim, his friends took videos of him dancing in front of one famous landmark after another. Matt is not a dancer. One observer described Matt’s kind of dance as “an awkward limb-flailing dance of joy.”
Matt uploaded these short clips of him dancing to his website for his family and friends. A few videos later, Matt’s dancing went viral. But he soon got bored dancing alone, so he sought other people to dance with him. He now has produced several videos with him dancing with people all over the globe. This is how Matt describes what he does: “I travel all over the world dancing badly with people.” He now has a few corporate sponsors who help pay for his travel and video production. In 2010, Time included one of his videos among the top 50 videos to watch. And two years later, the New York Times called his 2012 video “a masterpiece.”
In the 2012 video (which I have included below) Matt dances in 71 locations, in 55 countries, and 11 U.S. states. (Yes, Clevelanders, he even came to our fair city and dances in front of the Free Stamp! Watch for it!) Matt sometimes dances in the style of the country he’s in. Other times he teaches the group or large crowd a few movements of dances he knows. The end of this video shows him simply dancing in his own backyard in Seattle with his wife and small son.
Matt has danced all over the world—even underwater and in zero-gravity. Sometimes he says he has to speed up or slow down the film of the dance to fit the beat of the music. When he danced with a few women in Syria, he decided to blur their faces. Men and women don’t dance together in some cultures so he was just “playing it safe.”
Someone asked him what places he’d like to go to or revisit. He named a few lesser known countries, adding, “The places I know the least about I find the most interesting and exciting.” Lately his traveling has tapered off a bit because he now has two young sons. But he’s not finished with his dancing yet. He says, “Soon my boys will be old enough to travel.”
I came upon Matt Harding’s videos by chance and I really enjoyed them. They show people all over the world united in one common endeavor: dance! The dancing brought a smile to my face. Even though I, like Matt, dance badly (except for the polka!), I still love to dance and I enjoy watching others dance—whether they dance badly or beautifully!
Here’s Matt Harding’s 2012 video. The song is “Trip the Light.” The music was composed by Garry Schyman and the lyrics were written by Alicia Lemke and Matt Harding. The song is sung by Lemke. The second video is just the song with the lyrics.
Here is the song with the lyrics:
What do you think of Matt’s video? Any responses to the song? We’d love to hear from you!
PS: Last Saturday I gave a morning of reflection to 80 church ministers at St. John Neumann Parish in Strongsville, OH. I really enjoyed meeting and interacting with these generous volunteers! My next talk will be on Monday, December 5, at St. Paschal Parish in Highland Heights, OH. I will speak from 7:00 PM to 8:00 PM on “Unwrapping the Gifts of Advent: Courage, Love, and Hope.”