When a music video for Selena Gomez ends up on the online arts & culture magazine Hyperallergic, it’s time to take notice. While I’m a staunch believer in the crossover of art and commercial platforms, and especially in recognizing that there is often a thin line between “concept dance films” and “music videos”, I’ll admit I’ve paid little to no notice to this particular singer. However when Gomez recently announced the pending March release of her first Spanish sung EP Revelación, and along with the announcement dropped a new video for one of the tracks, Baila Conmigo (“Dance With Me”) featuring Puerto Rican singer/rapper Rauw Alejandro, it caught my attention.
Baila Conmigo is an ode to the power of media, youth of color, youth culture, and dance. While the latter is not so much a main course as covered by the camera, the entire video is a visually stunning example of kinetic storytelling and the power of dance with all the above elements to connect and deliver.
As the film opens, camera follows three guys on motorcycles riding the breeze past tilted boats and shanty shacks on the side of a beach road which could be anywhere from Fiji to Brazil. It lands as we see a red and tiger patterned beach towel being pulled off a clothesline by an aproned woman, then takes us around corners and through doorways into a wind blown flat with fluttering curtains to introduce the central female character, who reclines on the coach watching television. As we travel through this lively Latino beach town, televisions are featured prominently with Gomez herself on every one of them singing the very song the film is covering in time as it unfolds. The art direction in concert with the cinematic use of frames within frames is spot on, and the embellishing action we see even in the background of each shot is magical.
The movement of the camera and the entire film is a dance. In fact there is hardly a moment of stillness until the two central characters face each other in a hilariously anti-climactic moment where, with both of them frozen momentarily while staring at each other, the beautiful young man rips and throws off his glasses and the two break out into dance. I found the colors, the characters, the culture, the camera work, and even the music rapturous… a visual feast.
Directed by Fernando Nogari, Produced by Iconoclast, and starring Kibba and Ariane Aparecida, Baila Conmigo is like a summer holiday in the dead of winter.