Keenan Cahill and Up and Over It Appear on America's Got Talent 2011
My very favorite TV show is America’s Got Talent and this week (August 9th and 10th 2011) the entrants that auditioned via You Tube were presented. On Tuesday night the You Tube contestants performed and Wednesday night gave us the results. As you know if you watch the show, the results show always includes a variety of professional and other entertainment that are not part of the competition. In the results show this week, appropriately keeping with the You Tube theme, the additional entertainment included two unique You Tube sensations that have found a fascinated following on the popular website.
One of them is Keenan Cahill, the renowned 16-year-old lip sync performer with a genetic disease that has stunted his growth. I won’t say a whole lot about Keenan here since there are already two great Hub articles on him on this site which I have included links to below.
I do want to say, though, that I was really glad to see that Keenan was given the opportunity to appear on AGT. There was a time not too long ago in this country when someone like Keenan would not have been appreciated for his uniqueness and would have been treated like a pariah and subjected to intense ridicule and mocking. Instead he is treated like a celebrity everywhere he goes and the hand he was dealt in life which could have relegated his existence to a continuous trial of torture has instead given him a privileged place in American cultural history and lore. I am proud of America for that.
The other You Tube wonders appearing on AGT this week were a pair of Irish step dancers who invented a new twist to their art form: hand dancing. If you have ever watched Irish step dancing, you know it is characterized by extremely rapid feet movements while the arms remain unmoving and held closely to the side of the body. For this reason, I have never been a big fan of Irish step dancing though I am a big fan of dancing in general, having engaged in many forms of dancing myself.
Apparently this dancing pair, consisting of Peter Harding and Suzanne Cleary, needed to be set loose from the constraints of this dance form. Harding and Cleary, who call themselves “Up and Over It,” use vigorous hand motions that offset the lack of movement in the upper extremities found in typical step dancing and it is quite amazing to watch! The pairs’ stoic expressions and aloof manner during their performances creates a sharp contrast to the intense energy of their routine. If you have never seen them, please watch the You Tube video below. You can also see their videos on their website here: www.upandoverit.com.
Up and Over It in their You Tube video that made them famous
Harding and Cleary have already made numerous TV appearances and received several awards. They have been featured on ABC’s Good Morning America and Nightline, and the Rachel Ray Show. They were even featured in a recent commercial for McDonalds. They were named #4 Most Talented Web Video of 2010 by Time Magazine and #10 Best Rated video in UK Entertainment on You Tube.
Up and Over It on McDonald's Commercial
The couple actually appeared as semifinalists on Britain’s Got Talent which surprised me because they have been highly professional dancers for many years. I was under the impression that AGT was strictly for amateurs and I assumed BGT would be the same. Simon Cowell was not thrilled with their performance on BGT and said he thought it was “boring.”
Up and Over It on Britain's Got Talent
The couples’ routines usually consist of the two sitting at a table and making a variety of coordinated hand slaps on the table with perfect timing and rhythm. A small portion of their movements are executed in the air and intertwined with each other. In the performance on AGT the other night, they danced both with their hands on top of the table and with their feet under the table.
Before creating hand dancing, the couple spent a number of years on the dance circuit as traditional step dancers. They were recruited by Riverdance when they were 17 and soon became the starring couple. Since then they have performed on Broadway and Radio City Music Hall; in fact, they have toured every continent.
Eventually they strayed from the restrictions of the traditional form of the dance and invented their own rules. They began to infuse comedy and parody into their dance routines. They even mocked the constraints of a typical step dance by coming on stage wearing strait jackets over their upper bodies.
The hand dancing followed later. When asked how it developed, Peter told Rachel Ray they wanted to create something “cool and hip” so they decided to do on their hands what they were already doing on their feet. He also told Miss Ray that it takes them about a week to choreography a dance, and another week to practice it sufficiently. Miss Ray then commented about their craft being like “patty cake on steroids.”
On Good Morning America, the dancing duo explained that it was customary for them to practice their routines on their hands when preparing for competitions, so the current hand routines were simply an extension of what they were already doing on their feet.
Peter also commented that what the GMA hosts called “the sublime stare on their faces” simply added to the whimsical component of their act. They also confessed that their hands do get sore and that they have experienced their share of splinters and swollen knuckles.
Cleary, who was born, not surprisingly, in Ireland, began dancing at age three. Her partner Harding, born in Wales, began dancing tap and ballet at age seven. They met at an Irish dance competition as teenagers and have been together ever since.
Ok, now, go ahead and watch the videos and tell me what you think of them. Do you think it will catch on and spread or will it fade away shortly?