When 40’s Sound Meets Modern Street Dancing

A big confession here: in spite of all the time I often spend ridiculing shows like American Idol, there’s one show in that vein that I’ve taken a real shine to in the past couple of years, and that’s Britain’s Got Talent. For me, it’s set apart from many of its kin by the sheer variety of acts (impressionists, ventriloquists, mimes, dancers, singers, magicians, comedians, and often many of those things rolled into one) that not only enter the competition but frequently do quite well. It puts me in mind of the vaudeville shows of the early 20th century, and the variety shows inspired by vaudeville that inhabited radio and television for many decades after that. Plus, anything hosted by Ant and Dec is always funny and entertaining.

I’ve been trying to watch clips of the current series, going on as we speak, on youtube, and I discovered a real gem of dance performance that I have to pass on to those of my friends who like that kind of thing. I’m not usually much for dance acts but this one was tailor-made for me: three guys in retro attire dancing to soundtracks from the 30s and 40s. And not for the novelty of it either; they clearly understand the entertainment sensiblities of that era. I think this is the kind of act that would have been wildly successful back in those days if people had conceived of the idea of athletic dancing as an art form at the time.

Anyway, their audition, in the video above, was very well received, and I just finished watching their semifinal performance, seen below.

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The End of the Federer Era (Or: “Roger and Me”)

Well, it’s over. I knew it had to happen some day.

I always naively assumed it would end with an epic loss. Federer would crumble in some key match, and I would know that he no longer had what it took.

There was that loss to Karlovic in Cincinnati in 2008, after his flat performance at the French and that crushingly close loss to Rafa at Wimbledon. It was the first time I’d seen Federer go into deciding set tiebreak looking completely certain he was going to lose. I thought it meant the end of his career. Two weeks later, he won the US open.

There was that heartbreaking loss to Rafa in the 2009 Australian open, when Federer broke down on court after it was over, and I thought I was seeing him weep for the end of an era. Later that year he won his first French Open to complete a career Grand Slam, and then broke the all time Slam title record at Wimbledon.

No, there’ve been losses, but Federer has always managed to bounce back, and win some more. He may never be as perfect or as indomitable as he was in, say 2004 (has anyone ever had that good a year, at any sport?), but as long as he’s playing tennis, he’s going to be a threat to win any tournament he enters, even if he’s no longer automatically the favorite.

And so I discovered a few weeks ago that, if I was waiting for a spectacular loss to signal the end of the Federer era, I was never going to notice its arrival. Instead, the event that heralded the beginning of a post-Federer tennis world was a victory, in a match where the talented Swiss wasn’t even playing.

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