Alexandra Villarreal
June 22, 2015 4:29 pm

Meet dancers Phillip Chbeeb and Renee Kester: We can’t stop staring at the choreographed dance they performed a few weeks ago on a subway platform because the way they move their bodies is magical. And we’re not the only ones —the video has amassed over 1.5 million views on YouTube. Embodying sorrow, memories, and pain, the duo created a dance to Elliot Moss’ chilling song “Slip”— and it speaks volumes. In order to really understand the emotion and depth that went into their routine, Chbeeb and Kester paired the video with an explanation. And it’s beautiful.

You’ll notice when you watch the video, that as the music fades in, there’s an emotional disconnect between Chbeeb and Kester, when he swings her from side to side, her limbs dangling limp and delicate. The two lovers relentlessly cross paths. They’re intimate, but their movement proves tense and melancholy. Kester slips from Chbeeb’s outreaching arms for a taste of freedom and a side extension, but then she collapses into his body, peering into his eyes for answers. For a moment, they feel something, and as fear overwhelms Chbeeb, he’s the one to run onto a subway car and away from hopeless passion.

“How do we let go?”

“How do we move forward?” the preface on YouTube continues.

Chbeeb’s rhetoric and choreography speak to the ephemerality of relationships, where something precious can crumble into nostalgia and nonexistence. Moss’ lyrics add poignancy to the already emotional subject: “I won’t keep watching you/Dance around in your smoke/And flicker out/ You’re not the light I used to know.” The theme is one of evolution, of pain, of flight. It can’t be captured by words alone; it mandates transcription into motion so that gesture can describe the irrationalities of the world where prose falls short.

“Slip” is not the first viral film of its kind — the kind that makes the public feel a pull to watch on repeat because it’s so gorgeous. Recently, Ed Sheeran featured Chbeeb in his music video, “Don’t,” and dancers Keone and Mari choreographed a moving ode to racial injustice for Flying Lotus’ “Never Catch Me.”  And four months ago, David LaChapelle released his film of Sergei Polunin performing to Hozier’s “Take Me to Church.” All of these videos have one thing in common: they use dance to convey a universal sentiment to the masses.

Pacman asks, “what happens when the most beautiful memories from our past end up doing the most damage to our future?” The answer lies in the choreography itself: we watch, feel, digest, and move on. Thankfully, we have dance to help us through the healing process.

Check out the hypnotic video here:

(Image via YouTube)

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