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Classical music festival goes too far with tasteless Twerking video

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After spending the day yesterday writing and thinking about the move towards lifestyle and sensationalised reporting in music journalism, I woke-up to find a timely video made for a Belgian classical music festival, B-Classic.

The controversial video features dancers “twerking” to the fourth movement of Dvořák’s – Symphony No. 9 (Allegro con fuoco). For those of you unfamiliar, “twerking” is a sexually provocative dance style made popular in hip hop music, and features the shaking of the hips in an up-and-down bouncing motion that causes the dancer’s buttocks to shake, “wobble” and “jiggle”.

The video was made by DDB Brussels, at the behest of the Belgian music festival B-Classic; a festival devoted entirely to classical music. In a stunt to promote the festival and broaden their audience, they commissioned the Belgian music video director Raf Reyntjens, who is best known for his work with electronics artist Stromae. Reyntjens, hired a crew of female Korean dancers, (Wayeva), and choreographed a provocative dance routine against Dvořák’s popular New World Symphony. The video, which comes across like a surreal parody, has received nearly 1 million views in just over six days.

Watching this makes me wonder what this festival was thinking? I’d hazard a guess:  classical music can be just as cool and hip as pop music. But my impression is that it comes across as hollow and trashy, which is a shame, because it need not be that way for any music genre.

According to a statement on the festival’s website, “B-Classic wants to give classical music the same recognition as pop and rock music. That’s why we are proud to announce The Classical Comeback: a new music video format that combines the timeless emotion of classical music with the visual talent of a contemporary director.” … “Great composers like Dvorak did write their music for everyone. Their goal was to give people a break, let them escape from reality and to move them.”

The festival has made a short documentary in which Frank Peters, a Dutch classical pianist and spokesperson for B-Classic, says he’s “not convinced that youth are uninterested in classical music. I think that it’s simply more difficult for them to discover.”

The video concludes with the statement: “You just listened to three minutes of classical music.” I’m not so sure about that.


Michael Vincent

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