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This exuberant dance video is an inspiring showcase of living legends

An answer to the youthful dances typically featured on TikTok, there’s no song to lip-sync, no moves to copy — just pure joy, delivered by great artists of the dance world

A collage of the dozens of dancers in the video “And So Say All of Us.” (Mitchell Rose)
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Here’s a different kind of dance video: There’s no song to lip-sync, no set moves to copy. It’s simply a pleasure to watch, especially since the dozens of dancers that bound through it, performing quirky little solos, are some of the world’s greatest contemporary choreographers.

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The video, which you can watch on the website of the director, Mitchell Rose, and on YouTube, is called “And So Say All of Us,” a line drawn from the nursery rhyme “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow” (which is sung at the end of the video). It was commissioned in 2017 by the Brooklyn Academy of Music as a tribute to Joseph V. Melillo, who at the time was the academy’s outgoing executive producer, and who had presented these choreographers during his tenure. Think of the video as a string of full-bodied thank yous, or a chain letter in dance, with each performer taking up where the last left off. A chain of delight.

It’s also an answer to the catchy, youthful dances typically featured on TikTok, because included in “all of us” are mostly middle-aged and older icons of the dance world. These include such modern-dance eminences as Mark Morris, Bill T. Jones, Bebe Miller and Lucinda Childs, and ballet choreographers William Forsythe and Benjamin Millepied. The 52 international artists in this video have generally moved on from their performing careers — but what gorgeous dancers they still are, and how wonderfully they play.

To watch them is to see that any small square of space can be your sandbox. This is about utter, exhilarating freedom. Uninhibited pleasure in moving, in existing. For these dancers, it’s effortless.

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The 10-minute montage jumps from subway stations to park benches, from fountains to seaside rocks and bowling alleys, and whether an artist’s brief improvisation on concrete or grass is swooping or staccato, hyper-caffeinated or introspective, each one feels organic, like a little story. There are no hammered-out, precision-drilled steps. Each solo is unique, and the actions flow smoothly one to another. These lifelong movers have lost none of their fluid grace and imaginative zest.

David Roussève glides around a parking garage, weightless. In a narrow alley, Jawole Willa Jo Zolar scoops and gathers sunlight in her arms.

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Donald Byrd, noodling along a waterway, shudders his broad back like he’s throwing off droplets. Daredevil experimentalist Elizabeth Streb swings on a giant hamster wheel, her trademark apparatus. Jones ripples his arms in mesmerizing waves, and you forget to breathe. Director Rose’s virtuosic editing is a seamless wonder. Robert Een composed the gently insistent music.

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There’s also a sharp poignancy in the video. The dancers include Ronald K. Brown and Zvi Gotheiner, blissfully whirling and swaying, one after the other. Both of these beloved artists and mentors have since suffered strokes. It’s a reminder that time, health and life are fleeting, and their joys should be savored whenever possible. These artists show us how.

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