Michelle Obama’s ‘Mom Dancing’ genius

Forget the new hairdo. Michelle Obama’s most powerful bangs come from her hips.

(NBC/Lloyd Bishop/AP)

In Friday’s “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon” on NBC, the first lady and the comedian teamed up in a tour-de-farce skit called “The Evolution of Mom Dancing.”

In a ghastly pink cardy and pedal-pusher chinos, Fallon was having his own hair moment (was he channeling Tina Fey with that swingy brunette wig?) while unlocking a devastatingly creaky portrayal of self-conscious uncool. Then Michelle Obama swivels on, in her own cardy and, yes, pedal pushers–way spiffier, natch. But would she truly represent? You could hear a million Moms around the country fret. Then a few more beats, a few more hip bumps, and the Mom-in-Chief’s dance cred resolved into smooth, self-mocking genius.

Smooth was the magic charm here, as the pair showed us some clutch “Go Shopping, Get Groceries” moves, the sideswiping arms of the “Sprinkler,” the “Just the Hands Part of Single Ladies.” Obama, famed for her ability to put others at ease in her presence, is comfortable in her own skin. Her relaxed ease freed Fallon to be his comic best. But when she does the Dougie, all her partner can do is stand open-mouthed in awe.

Of course, we knew Obama could dance; check out this earlier view of the Mover-in-Chief.

In the shadow of the sequester, Washington is a city of tight shoulders. But maybe we should take a cue from the loose hips in the White House.

Sarah Kaufman received the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Criticism. She is the author of THE ART OF GRACE: On Moving Well Through Life, coming in Nov. 2015. She has been The Washington Post's dance critic since 1996, and after logging time in opera houses, black boxes, and dive bars, what moves her most is seeing grace happen where she least expects it.



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Ron Charles · February 23, 2013