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Battle of the Online Dance Videos

Last week, two rather different dance videos hit the web: one featuring a popular song, one featuring über chic clothes, both starring top-shelf dancers. There’s really no need to pit them against each other, but they landed at the same time so it’s like asking for a face-off.

In one corner, we have the new fashion ad by design label rag & bone in honor of their 2015 fall/winter line (though I would really like to get through this winter first, thanks) featuring a master and a muse: Mikhail Baryshnikov, the ballet great, and Lil’ Buck, the face of jookin (which I named a Best Move of 2014). This unlikely duo makes a magnetic pair; both hold their own (and play chess) while looking painfully cool and attractively unapproachable.

In the other corner is the danseur Sergei Polunin, who people like to call a “bad boy” because he has lots of tattoos, flying through a bright and airy barn to the angsty wails of Hozier’s “Take Me to Church,” directed by artist David LaChapelle. He leaps incessantly through light shafts, drops to his knees and grabs his hair in supposed anguish.

And the winner, by a knockout: Misha & Lil’ Buck who, even though they’re shilling for a company, bring a commanding presence to a spot that uses dance in just the right doses – sparse and moody and unforced. Polunin’s routine, though physically impressive, feels self-indulgent; it could be set to any song, really. And the heavy emo glaze is applied a bit too thick for my taste. Both expressed a certain beauty, but only one really turned me on.

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