Most of what you find on YouTube is forgettable. But much of it’s memorable. The London Guardian compiled a list of 50 videos found that reflect some of the best of all the arts, from dance to theater, from jazz to classical, from visual art to poetry.
Some of my favorites from Ajesh Patalay’s Guardian piece:
Nureyev dances Romeo at the Royal Ballet, 1966
You may prefer Rudolf’s Swan Lake duet with Miss Piggy (also on YouTube). But a more traditional pas de deux with Margot Fonteyn from Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet delivers a glimpse of Nureyev’s sublime physicality as a dancer; the balcony scene in particular gives him plenty of room to flex his muscles, with lifts and leaps aplenty.
John Coltrane performs ‘My Favourite Things’, 1961
The title song on Coltrane’s seminal album My Favourite Things really is the bomb, all 13 minutes of it. YouTube’s longest version, at just over 10, comes from a live performance in Baden-Baden, Germany, and weaves in improvs by pianist McCoy Tyner and flautist Eric Dolphy, as well as Coltrane on the soprano saxophone, which he took up for the first time on this album. This is a long long way from The Sound of Music.
Madonna at the Danceteria, 1982
The first ever live performance of ‘Everybody’, Madge’s first single, at the downtown nightclub where she was a regular and got a demo of the song played. Her three backing dancers – in matching shorts, blazers and pork pie hats – were her friend Erica Bell, former roommate Martin Burgoyne and black dancer Bags. Gotta love those moves.
Jack Kerouac reads from On the Road (called Project 2), 1959
US TV presenter Steve Allen liked to do things differently. When he invited Kerouac on his show to read from On the Road, Allen decided it was a good idea to give him a jazzy piano accompaniment. It shouldn’t work but it does, thanks largely to Kerouac’s inordinate skill as a reader, his intonation curiously in tune with the slightly daft tinkerings in the background.
Stravinksy conducts the Firebird Lullaby Suite, 1965
The premiere of Stravinsky’s Russian folk ballet was performed by Diaghilev’s Ballet Russes in Paris in 1910. Young Igor was just 28 and Firebird was his breakthrough. (Over the next three years Stravinsky, in collaboration with Diaghilev, came up with Petrushka and his masterpiece The Rite of Spring.) Here he is at 82, looking every bit his age, conducting the New Philharmonia Orchestra in London. Marvellous.