February 17, 2013

Imitating Viral Video, Cornell Dances the ‘Harlem Shake’ at Uris Library

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People studying in the A.D. White Library were met with a surprise on Friday when almost 400 students, some wearing tutus or body paint, flooded the room — filming their own rendition of Harlem Shake, a viral video featuring people spontaneously dancing.

Since the original Harlem Shake video — which featured four guys dancing to the song “Harlem Shake” by Baauer — gained popularity, Cornell architecture students, Law School students and other groups have filmed their own versions of the dance.

Groups of Cornell students were inspired by other videos people had made, according to Duncan McCausland ’16, an organizer of the A.D. White Harlem Shake video.

“We decided after watching an hour’s worth of Harlem Shake videos that we should make one,” he said.

Jonathan Eilenberg ’16, another organizer of the event, added that they chose the A.D. White Library because they wanted a location that was “recognizably Cornell.”

McCausland also said he thought the set-up of the A.D. White Library provided a good visual for the video.

“We thought it would be visually shocking to see people on the three story landscape,” he said.

The two started recruiting using a Facebook event and word of mouth but were not  successful in expanding the event very much, according to Eilenberg.

Levina Li ’13, who helped publicize the event further, said she reached out to  groups that she thought would be “excited” to participate.

The event was also combined with another planned Harlem Shake video planned by Therese Bailey ’13 in Duffield Hall.

Ultimately, according to McCausland, the final  turnout of 400 people marked a success for the organizers.

“Me and [Eilenberg] were not even expecting close to that many people,” McCausland said.

McCausland also said that the video did hit a roadbump, however, right before the students filmed: the organizers had not sought permission from Cornell to film in the library.

“Right when we were about to start, someone from Cornell came in and asked if we had permission,” he said. “We talked to him, and he gave us permission, and 400 people started cheering.”

The overall atmosphere was “crazy,” as participants danced without any music, according to Eilenberg.

“I definitely think that people kind of went crazy for a minute; there was no music playing when it was happening,” he said. “We just kind of told people to start dancing. It was kind of crazy to see people go crazy [on all three levels of A.D. White Library] all at once.”

Cornell Hillel also created a Harlem Shake video to promote its upcoming party to celebrate Purim, a Jewish holiday, according to Lucy Goldberg ’15, chair of engagement for Cornell Hillel.

“We thought it would be really fun to advertise it with the dance, and the Harlem Shake was really popular at the time,” she said. “It really happened organically … There were a ton of people that saw we were doing it and joined in.”

A Law Library Harlem Shake video, organized by Jordan Manalastas, law, promoted the Law School’s Public Interest Cabaret fundraiser. Manalastas said he chose the Law School library as the stage for the video because it is normally a place where “the solemnity is daunting.”

Juliana Batista ’16 — who choreographed Thursday’s One Billion Rising flashmob to draw attention to violence against women — said that “the Harlem Shake was crazy and awesome.”

She added, however, that she hopes “someone on campus [will] combine the trendiness of the Harlem Shake with the meaning of One Billion Rising. There are elements of each that could really make the ultimate flashmob.”

Original Author: Erica Augenstein

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