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The World sings, The World dances



 Images from the video "The World Sings, The World Dances" produced by UNESCO



Spotlight on Film - The World sings, The World dances


During my quality check of the U-matic collection, this was the record that I kept circling back  to. The film features extracts from two performances recorded at UNESCO in the late 70s, blitzing through international music and dance set pieces that capture one’s attention and pass far too quickly. Each segment is only able to hint at a larger performance. But the overall tone  is one of celebration: of diversity, of cultural exchange, and of the universal need for artistic expression. 


Capturing intangible heritage like dance and music is a hurtle that plagues archivists to this day. What information is lost when a performance is captured on film? Can a video recording capture an audience’s mood or the boom of applause in a theatre? Is it best to let ephemeral art be ephemeral? 


Archival theorists haven’t come up with any answers just yet. But I sure am glad that someone chose to record these performances back in 1978. I am particularly grateful for the latter half of the film: a showcase of Bubbling Brown Sugar Show’s “Harlem of the 30s,” which is, simply  put, a complete and utter delight. And it is here where of all the recordings of UNESCO live events, “The World sings, The World dances” distinguishes itself. The camera cuts, pans, and zooms to compliment the performers; it doesn’t pretend to be an objective, uninterested  record. It is a member of the audience, and an active participant; a dancer in its own right. 


Meghan Shields, Intern



Generous support for this project has been provided by the People of Japan


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