Dr. Vanessa Theme Ament

DAILY DOSE OF DELIGHT #9 (From THE BAND WAGON)

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1) I noticed each character contributes lyrics about the stage and entertainment. They are each brainstorming and helping each other come up with ideas; they are working as a group, as a team. I noticed they all seem to look at each other when they suggest a storyline for the stage at the beginning of the song, and they all have the same footwork when they are standing next to each other. This clip shows the comradery and unification of Americans working together and supporting each other. They also fool around and play with the stage props, which symbolizes having a good time and a good laugh.

2) The costuming is very neutral. Not one character stands out more than the others in regards to eccentric clothing. The colors are very neutral and formal. They blend together and work together just like their singing, dancing and cooperation do. I see slight tones of beige, navy, grey and purple. Nanette Fabray's dress includes a pop of red on her lipstick and rose on her skirt, and her blouse and skirt match with Oscar Levant's shirt and jacket. His tie is similar in color to Fred Astaire's tie, and both are saturated colors of Jeffrey's softer jacket and pants.

3) The staging and interplay between the characters is fun and upbeat just like their personalities. They have fun with the props and they are smiling throughout. It synchronizes with the fun ideas they sing about. For example, when Astaire and Jeffrey pretend to be mobsters they are showing an example of a plot for a movie or theater. When the four of them dance and sing, "That's entertainment" they are actively putting on a show of their own. When they all pose in front of a red prop they are working together physically, which is what the song is about and what America at the time was hoping to inspire. Their interplay defines their teamwork and fun times. Fabray is feminine but not too feminine as to not be considered one of the guys. She only acts extremely feminine with she mentions a story idea about a dame, the lady in tights and when she is flirting and pops her hip in front of the mobsters.

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1. The way they interact with each other is they all perform as a big group. What one person does the other follows. Other musicals we have watched are more individualized performances.

2. All the men wear basically the same suit and the woman wears a nice dress. No one is more dressed up or underdressed, this makes the scene more well balanced.

3. The scene is very fun and playful. The characters all stay close to each other and react off the others performance. What one character does the others kind of copy off of.

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1. They all work together, the dance is seamless and every is included.

2. The costuming is very similar, none are too bright or out there. The colors blend well together.

3.I love the way the almost feed off each other. They are like a well oiled machine, they work so well with each other and look like they are just having fun, it doesn't look as choreographed as other numbers we have observed.

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Daily Dose #9  The Ensemble... "Band Wagon" 1953

The players...(Fred Astaire) Tony Hunter...(Jack Buchanan) Jeffrey Cordova...(Oscar Levant) Lester Morton & (Nanette Fabray) his wife Lily Morton

 

In the DD clip these main players are having fun persuading Tony to join them in their idea of 'putting on a show'  using simple choreography so to speak,...I'm sure no dance routine is really simple...they dance close & I enjoy looking at their feet & facial expression...they are 'character' through their attire...e can see who they will be in the movie by looking at how they are dressed...the red flower is lovely on Lily & her poodle style skirt w/out the poodle  design...Astair always dapper.

They are playful & excited as they encourage Tony that if he will join them in their 'show' it will work out for all of them...I like the acrobatic pyramid they form in the middle of their dance & that is on looooong ladder used as a prop for humor

This is like some of the other musicals in this series we are studying where someone is always 'putting on a show'   

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I love this movie and the song it incompass,s everything about the movies you can,t hear this song and not think of various movie scenes. And in this scenes and through their interaction they drive home that point and they all play off each other Beautifully.

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The first thing I noticed is that Astaire does not out-dance the others.  With the exception of Levant, the performers are kept on an even playing field of dance.  Levant's lack of skill is fodder for some of the visuals, sort of an inside joke for the audience who knows Astaire as a dancer and Levant as a composer. Here, however, they are just a couple of buddies.  

The second thing I noticed is that together the four of them are sort of a flag. Navy suit on Astaire with stripes, navy tie on Levant on a white shirt, shades of blue on Buchannan and Fabray with her white blouse and bright red accent on her belt. 

Finally, I like the contrast that exists using the set of Oedipus Rex for the gang's silent film sight gags and this totally American buddy ensemble. In addition to high brow vs. low brow, was there any play less "American Way" than Oedipus Rex?  (fatalism, incest, absolutism, self-mutilation?) 

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      The number is a collaborative effort, with no one standing out or being the center of focus. They work as a group, although Lester (Oscar Levant) drops out for some of the dance steps. Even this was done in a way that does not distract from the group action. Additionally, the dance steps are direct and simple, making Lily (Nanette Fabray) and Jeffrey (Jack Buchanan) look equal in ability to Tony (Fred Astaire), in spite of Astaire's superior talent. This differs from the approaches we saw in the earlier musicals, where an individual or a pair was the focus of a dance number of great virtuosity or intimacy. When we did see group dancing, it was used either to highlight the principal character, or to create a human mosaics for artistic effect. In each of these cases, the group was a collective of anonymous individuals.

      The costuming is relatively conservative, with bland colors, so as to avoid drawing attention to any one individual over another. Although each is dressed differently, none is dressed spectacularly. Lily's dress is attractive, but with its mix of gray and white, it does not dazzle. Lester is in an unremarkable combination of gray coat and black pants, and Jeffrey is in muted blue tones. Tony is more formally attired, in a black pin striped suit. At first, I thought this would cause him to stand out, but with the relatively dark lighting of the scene, he actually blends in a bit with the background (and the others stand out). This might have been an intentional way of masking Astaire's superior dancing and shifting the focus to the others in the group.

      In terms of the relationships between the four, Tony is the central character.  He is the one they must persuade; without him, there is no show. The scene starts as a conversation among the principals aimed at convincing Tony that their musical can work. He initially looks unconvinced but comes around to the idea and joins the group. With Tony on board, they form a cohesive unit in a collaborative effort. Once they all agree, there is nothing more to discuss among them. Now the focus of the scene changes; it is no longer a conversation between them, it is a presentation directed towards the audience.      

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18 hours ago, Dr. Vanessa Theme Ament said:
  • As you watch the interaction between the four characters in this scene, what do you notice about the way they include each other or relate to one another? How is it different from early musicals we have discussed?
  • What do you notice about the costuming of the characters that indicate cohesiveness of the ensemble, as opposed to setting anyone apart? Be specific.
  • What do you notice about the staging and interplay between the characters that helps define the relationships between the characters in the song?

1. First off, their chemistry is so natural that they can't help but perform as one and express a sense of good feeling and camaraderie among themselves. Throughout the song, each actor gets a line celebrating an aspect of entertainment. They always move in tandem to each others movements and to the rhythm of the song. Even when one person is alone (like one of the characters who stands front of a door for his line) they're not alone for long. Their dances and movements of their hands and steps are all tightly coordinated. They walk and sing together and genuinely appear to enjoy each other's company. There have been group numbers before but I havne't seem one where a small group of people come off as friends and equal partners. They're a tight knot group that moves together as one and not a large group of dancers with no other connection or chemistry. 

2. All the costumes match in color even if the types of clothes (pinstripe suit v solid). They're wearing their own clothing but the color schemes all seem to match. Gray, blue, dark blue and white are the colors. Even Nanette Fabray is wearing a skirt that still matches and compliments the outfits of the men. There is clear masculinity and femininity but with the color schemes, what everyone is wearing makes sense as a group but within that, each character is able to express their individuality. 

3. There are set pieces which allow them to move around each other but also makes the scene interesting. At one point, Fred Astaire sits in a chair and the other circle around him and move their hands in unision and eventually he gets up to continue dancing together. In another there is a set piece that looks like a big fire hydrant. The actors somehow are able to link arms outside of it on the sides and create a sort of diamond formation. It is showing that no matter what is around them physically, they are able to come and be together. 

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In this song, "That's Entertainment!", we see four performers who appear to be trying out ideas together in the hopes that they can make something work. This spirit of team problem solving differs from other types of musical numbers we saw in the films of the thirties and forties. The cooperative team effort begins with Nanette Fabray, Jack Buchanan and Oscar Levant attempting to convince Fred Astaire that "everything that happens in life can happen in a show." As the first verse progresses, each of them sing a line at a time, putting in different ideas about what could be in the show, and each time, they look intently at the person singing and then sometimes at others in the group. If you watch with the sound off, you definitely understand just from the gesturing that the group is working something out together.

By the time they get to the line that the world is a stage, the stage is a whirl of entertainment, they have figured out what they intend to do. The song then shifts to a presentational style of performance, with all four of them facing us, the audience. This move from inward to outward performance is a breaking of the fourth wall, of the kind we saw in On the Town, such as the prehistoric man number. The fact that the other three have convinced Astaire's character means that the four of them can rejoice together in having figured out the problem.

Their movements are synchronized at times, representing a cohesiveness and feeling of unity, and then at other times, their differences are emphasized to show that each member of the group brings something unique to the overall whole. For example, when they create a formation by extending their arms and joining hands, each member is necessary and they rely upon each other. However, each group member gets a chance to do a little improvising and playing in front of the audience.

If you compare this number to a Busby Berkeley extravaganza, the most obvious difference is the fact that there are no chorus members or extras. If Berkeley had directed this, we might see the stage opening up behind them and a hundred people appear half way through the performance, all dancing in synchronization. This feels more intimate. The four of them can figure this out. They don't need hundreds of people to make a success. In this way, it has a confidence about it that the Berkeley numbers lacked. Berkeley promoted safety in numbers. As the lecture notes from today point out, by the fifties, Americans are proud and victorious. They have confidence in themselves as the US is in a position of global leadership. 

 

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DAILY DOSE OF DELIGHT #9 (FROM THE BAND WAGON):

"You may be stranded out in the cold but you wouldn’t change it for a sack of gold"—what and quit show business? (from Annie Get Your Gun)

It’s such an ensemble effort that Fred, Nanette and Jack mock hogging the spotlight during their time step.  Later Oscar, as the foundation, leaves the acrobatic stance but the others don’t fall which shows that no one member is more important than the team. Previously, the star would take the spotlight and even Fred and Ginger would trade steps in challenge routines.

For their time, the dress was cajj nice but today, millennials would call it: basic hipster.

Their characters are suggested by the song: Oscar is “the clown with his pants falling down;" Fred is “the dance that’s a dream of romance;" Jack is “the boss who is thrown for a loss;" and Fred points to Nanette when he sings: ”the skirt who is doing him dirt.”  Then Shakespeare is referenced (“The world is a stage.”), which suggests that they (and we) are all play acting in the roles we have to play and it’s all good fun.  At the end, their eyes and arms extend slightly left of camera to an imaginary audience implying that we are right there with them.

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An 'all for one' approach.  It may begin as three of them convincing the fourth, but it doesn't take long for the trio to become a quartet.  With the exception of the 'Pretty Baby' number in 'Born to Dance', it's hard to think of a group of actors singing together in such a way (although I'm sure there lots I am not thinking of). It's usually a man and a woman flirting or a person center stage with (or without) a supporting cast in the background. The characters in the Band Wagon are well defined.  The girl (who gets all the sexy lines) the jokester, the older man of experience and the skeptic/best friend that has brought them all together. They may be singing with a singular purpose, but the lyric and gag assignments  are in line with these personalities.

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The four characters seem to be cooperative and know each other like friends, playing and clowning around. The color of the costumes matched, along with different suits and the dress Fabray wears in this clip. They all were in sync, which I enjoy watching.

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  1. The interaction between the four characters are as equals. They are sticking together, supporting each other, and confirming that they can do anything as a team.  It is different from the earlier musicals,  as there is no focus on one person, or one individual, and one star is not singled out from the others.  They are one and each one has something to offer.
  2. The costuming is regular streetwear of the time.  No one is more flamboyant than the others.  Men are in casual suits and Nanette is wearing a blouse and skirt.  This reconfirms that they are as one and equals.
  3. The song intro is Anything Goes and turns into That's Entertainment an they sing of anything that can be done with different scenarios throughout.  The staging is an empty rehearsal hall and togetherness and sticking together is the interplay with nonchalance.  Fred and Jack wear bowler hats and have a short Laurel and Hardy type interplay.  Nanette and Oscar step in using the ladder and stumps the others.  Jack stands beside a closet Oscar lights his cigarette and then plays hide and seek inside the closet.  Then they are all in unison again.

Great movie and see it each time it is on. "By Myself" into "Shine on Your Shoes" as an opening for Fred and for me, even though the simplest, my best and smoothest, music and dance scene ever "Dancing in the Dark".

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As you watch the interaction between the four characters in this scene, what do you notice about the way they include each other or relate to one another? How is it different from early musicals we have discussed?

The earlier musicals showcased stars one at at time. Although they may have shared the scene there was always a pull for power between the actors. In this scene these 4 feel like such good friends they could be family; they gesture the same, have the same color scheme. The whole scene flows right into the musical number and is seamless, whereas earlier musicals felt more clunky and not a cohesive. 

What do you notice about the costuming of the characters that indicate cohesiveness of the ensemble, as opposed to setting anyone apart? Be specific.

For one they all have the same manor of dress. Showy but more casual giving it a more lively feeling. The color scheme flows between them. They all blend together and no one person stands out from the rest. 

What do you notice about the staging and interplay between the characters that helps define the relationships between the characters in the song?

There is an almost familiar bond that makes them appear as if they could be siblings ragging on eachother. They seem to play off what the other person is doing/saying. They feel very comfortable with one another.

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Response to #1.

The number begins with Levant, Fabray, and Buchanan singing to Astaire, as if to convince him to join in their fun, their plot, their scheme. He goes along, from good natured willingness or from a genuine curiosity to see what happens (I can’t decide which). This scene is the turning point for the way Buchanan’s character relates to the other three; he, at last, begins interacting with them as equal partners from this scene moving forward. The characters played by Astaire, Fabray, and Levant are already friends and consider each other equals. Levant takes the position of foil or clown within this highly staged scene to offset the routine. However, from start to finish, this is an ensemble number, much like one would see in an opera, when the four major voices sing together, with no one

outsinging or outperforming anyone else. Earlier musicals focused less on the group and more on the individual, but the times, they change. 

Response to #2.

Their clothing colors are complementary, in hues of blue, gray, black, and beige. Fabray is allowed a small pop of red to denote her femininity, but in all other points, her dress is utilitarian and works for this number. The jacket and ascot tie worn by Buchanan are what come to mind when one thinks of a mid-century stage director. Astaire and Levant wear clothing appropriate to their characters, as well. When performing as an ensemble, the look is distinct but homogeneous. 

Response to #3.

They perform in groups of 2, 3, or 4. No one performs a one-man show during this number. At the beginning, all 4 perform together, then we segue into the dance of the 3s before moving into the vaudeville routines that feature pairs. The number then escalates back to 4 to come to a close. Their actions support each other, ex. Levant lighting Buchanan’s cigarette. 

 

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1. The four characters are so well blended together and each is just as important to the scene as the others. The noticable change is the fact that a woman was as equal as the three guys in the scene. She was not the typical background chracter or damsel in distress as in earlier musicals. It also was a change from the boy chases girl from most earlier musicals. The scene also depicts the true intent of any movie- Entertainment.

2. All four characters are dressed in more monotone colors which keeps the focous on all the charaters instead of just one. Even the bright reds of the background help to keep the focous on the characters and their combined contrbutions to the scene. It is a brillant use of colors.

3. There is a comic and playful relationship between the charcters which you can clearly see. The fact that each charcter blends with the others throughout the scene is brillant. The actors make it run smoothly by playing off of each other throughout the scene. It is great. 

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1.     As you watch the interaction between the four characters in this scene, what do you notice about the way they include each other or relate to one another? How is it different from early musicals we have discussed?

Right away, when they begin dancing, I noticed that each character uses the same choreographed moves in the dance, unlike the “competitive” dance between Rogers and Astaire in “Isn’t it a Lovely Day?” from Top Hat.  Perhaps as a sign of equality and stronger roles for women, at one point, Lily steps out from the line to sing, and each man in turn does a brief dance step with her before she steps back into the line as they all resume the same dance steps.  At one point, Jeff, Tony, and Lily lock arms—as equals—and do the same dance steps toward the camera, while playfully vying to be the next (and final) person to put his/her foot forward.  As another sign of equality, each singer takes turns providing examples of how a show can mirror real life: extra-marital affairs, problems with employees and bosses; even Oedipus, one of the best-known stories of parricide in literature.  The scene further illustrates the idea of team work as they must cooperate to support each other on the platform.  The number does a nice job of showcasing everyone’s talents equally.  I saw this especially with the playful “Oliver and Hardy” pantomime between Jeff and Tony as they flirt with Lily and as Lester walks behind them carrying a ladder (at both ends) while they duck before getting hit as they stoop to pick up their hats.

2.     What do you notice about the costuming of the characters that indicate cohesiveness of the ensemble, as opposed to setting anyone apart? Be specific.

Most noticeable are the similar colors in the dancers’ outfits.  It looks like each performer is wearing at least one shade of blue; however, it was hard for me to determine whether Lily’s skirt is gray and white or blue and white.  Up close, at least, the squares in her skirt seemed to be blue.  The various shades of blue draw the characters together, making them all more equal.  Arguably, the viewer would still notice Astaire more, not only because he was an established dancer but also because his blue suit is much bolder than the other actors.  And even if Lily’s dress is gray and not blue, it still ties in with Lester’s suit and still pulls all for performers together cohesively.

 

3.     What do you notice about the staging and interplay between the characters that helps define the relationships between the characters in the song?

 

The song is called “That’s Entertainment,” and that is exactly what the lyrics and choreography highlight.  The lyrics point out how art imitates life.  And despite the serious nature of some of these real-life situations (also noted above)—parricide, fratricide, extra-marital affairs—they sing about them in a playful way with an equally playful choreography.  Every part of the dance displayed light-hearted humor, which is easier to convey—at least in this case—with each of the four performers having an equal turn in the light.   The scene begins with the other three characters standing around Tony, who is seated in the chair.  All four of them must work cooperatively to support each other as they stand on the set piece of “bricks and broken columns.”  Almost all of the dancing involves all four characters doing the same dance steps or assuming different roles in the brief comedic pantomime.  And the number concludes with all four stepping toward the camera to sing the final line “a world of entertainment.”

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1. No one upstages any other actor.  Everyone is given a part to play and equal time together.

2. Basic colors no one flashy with extra colors or jewelry to take away from anyone else.

3. They honestly seem like friends that are entertainers by trade in the clip shown.  They play off of each others dancing and comedy throughout the performance, and it's just entertaining because they do it so smooth and naturally! 

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This is one of my all-time favorite musicals. The That's Entertainment clip shows them working together in harmony. You can tell that these four have respect for each other. No one tries to upstage each other. It's a group number and they share the spotlight well.

The costuming is interesting. They are all wearing neutral colors so no one person stands out. The outfits mesh well together on the screen. It's very cohesive. 

The staging is very playful. It's a light-hearted and fun number. Not many props but they were added for a touch of humor (kerchief, ladder)

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  1. They are almost always acting and dancing in unison. Even when apart, they are connecting, such as the lighting of the cigarette. In many of the earlier works we've watched, it's been about dance as a sparring match, even if it's two characters we know will end of together, it's a dance off. Here, it's clearly about quickly convincing one reluctant (yet not all that reluctant) character to join in. 
  2. Not only do the costumes coordinate, they are also very plain. These characters wouldn't stand out off the studio lot on a city street. Grays, dark suits, nary a speck of color even where pops would be expected (white handkerchiefs, monochrome ties). Even in B&W musicals of the 30s, the design popped off the screen. Here, the costumes blend in. 
  3. Interesting, you don't get a sense of a strong lead character. They are really all equally weighted. No one is taking the lead, the lyrics are often sung together, and the steps are combination. It's very much a collaboration. 
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This is the great ensemble movie where it brought together performers who each had their own differing strengths in their own careers. 

Oscar Levant – concert pianist and comedian
Nanette Fabray – all-around solid singer, dancer, comedic actress
Jack Buchanan – theater, singer, dancer. director, etc.
Fred Astaire – Oh, what to say?

So the theme of this week shows how these performers with disparate talents came together in musical numbers, with no one trying to “one-up” the others.

They each got to show off their unique gifts in separate numbers in the movie, but the overriding message was “Together we can succeed.”

Just had to add: only Buchanan and Astaire didn’t have to look for the staircase here.
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1. I notice that this is clearly a group as I watch the interaction between the four characters in this scene. Everyone is very encouraging and working to build each other up. They look each other in the eye when someone is speaking/singing--they're really paying attention to one another. This is different from early musicals we've discussed because no one is front and center--everyone is equal and included.

2. Each character's costume coordinates with the others in the scene. Everyone is wearing a combination of navy, gray, and white. They all complement each other and the red background. No one's costume is "over the top" or "showy." Everyone in the group is equal in terms of their costume.

3. The characters are all together in a tight group. They're all four moving in unison; they're all in step and staying close together. They're working together and interacting in an encouraging, uplifting way. This makes the theme of being stronger together/working together to solve problems clear and believable for the audience. 

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1)  As you watch the interaction between these four actors, no one is trying to outdo any of the other three people in the number.  Even though Astaire is heads above the other actors regarding the dancing portion of the scene, he is really laid back in that respect. They look at each other as they sing and "dance".  You can see the interaction between them.  It is like the Three Musketeer motto:  "All for One, and One for All".

2)  Even the color of their clothing - none of them are over the top, but they blend.  The only real enhancement of color is the flower at Nanette's waist.  A muted color palette.  They all seem to have a shade of blue in their costumes.  No one is dressed fancier than anyone else.  The scene and the music isn't about the costumes, it is about them working together to make a show come alive.  

3) They are all smiles and very friendly towards each other.  You can tell that they aren't new acquaintances but have known each other for quite awhile.  It starts off with them trying to convince Tony to become involved in the project, how exciting it will be "a world of entertainment", how they will all be involved in it, equally.  Much of it is done all together - everyone involved in the song at the same time.  It is only when Oscar Levant heads off to get the handkerchief which becomes a game of alley-oop (sp) that they are separated at any one time.  Levant even tries to do some dance steps (which is totally out of his league).  It's a fun number and they make it that way.  By far the best singer is Nanette Fabray.  But Oscar Levant was one of a kind.  

 

 

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22 hours ago, Dr. Vanessa Theme Ament said:

What do you notice about the costuming of the characters that indicate cohesiveness of the ensemble, as opposed to setting anyone apart? Be specific.

All three men are in suits, but each suit is styled differently, pinstripes, casual, an ascot as a way to show their status, their jobs, and even their personalities. Lily is in a casual dress with a big skirt perfect for swishing and dancing. All four of them look like they belong in their profession and in the time period they are representing. 

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1 - They interact to each other, there's no usual step dances like we used to know.

2 - They're well dressed, the three guys wears suits and the lady is very elegant with a lovely dress, in certain way, they're very elegante here.

3 - Further sing, they kind of do a comedy performance in a part of clip and they're really enjoy the time and happiness in the clip.

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