Kate Bush Finally Made Me Understand Dancing



I never really "got" dancing.


Not choreographed dancing, anyway. I'd watch a music video with the likes of BTS or Lady Gaga dancing away and, though it was always very impressive on a technical level, it never actually captured my attention. It just seemed to be there because a music video was needed and the artists could dance, so they did. And fair enough. If you've got a skill, use it.


The most joy I have ever personally gotten from dancing was when Bill Bailey won Strictly, a moment that really brought the nation together during this pandemic. I'm a big fan of the musical comic and, recognising that his endless musical abilities would stand him in good stead for this series, I knew he'd put a dent in the egos of those who had obviously just booked him, a fairly plump 55 year-old man, to try and ensure Oti Mabuse didn't win two series in a row. There's nothing Bill Bailey can't do when he puts his mind to it and he well and truly proved it. Bravo.


Beyond that, however, I have always failed to see the hype around dancing. It's good fun and nightclubs wouldn't exist without it, but the idea that some people genuinely take dancing seriously is something that never clicked with me. Until, that is, Saturday 6th March 2021, when I finally discovered the magnificent Kate Bush.


In the space of a weekend, I have garnered a slight obsession with Bush. I was, of course, aware of her long before this and had heard a couple of clips here and there, but I'd never actually listened to her properly. Much like many epiphanies, the moment of Gold struck whilst I was sat on the toilet. Dad was playing Kate Bush using his Alexa and as 'Wuthering Heights' played, I noticed the slight variation in drum pattern during the chorus - unusual for such a huge hit. My interest was piqued.


One hour later, I had devoured the likes of 'Wuthering Heights', 'Babooshka', 'Running Up That Hill' and 'This Woman's Work' and realised that my ignorance up to this point was unforgivable. This woman's work is absolutely mesmerising.


But as good as it all is - and it is all seriously good - she was never going to surpass her breakthrough hit, 'Wuthering Heights'. Based on the Emily Brontë book of the same name, Bush wrote it when she was just 18 and it is a truly gorgeous piece of music. The unusual singing, gracious Piano work and incredibly catchy chorus all mesh together to create one of the best songs of the 1970s and, some would say, one of the greatest songs ever written.


And then I watched this.



By becoming the first artist (as far as I'm aware) to use a headset microphone, the bones of which was made out of old coat hangers, Bush was able to perform her full choreography onstage - not easy to do when you're singing at the same time. I couldn't take my eyes off it; it was truly mesmerising. Once it had finished, it was like the spell had been broken and the entrancement was over.


That was when the light bulb clicked. Reflecting on what I'd seen, I realised that her dancing had done just as much to tell the story as the lyrics had, whilst also ensuring that my attention never wavered. For the first time, I understood the storytelling element of dancing and how it can be the perfect accompaniment to music.


Bush is clearly a supremely talented singer and dancer, which is why it's a huge shame that she never toured. Her 1979 Tour of Life really was to be the only tour of her life and, aside from a few guest appearances and a 22-date concert residency in 2014 which sold out in 15 minutes (!), she hasn't returned to the stage since. She's clearly a gifted theatrical performer and I'd love to be in the parallel universe in which she does tour. Alas, it's not to be in this one.


It seems fitting that I would properly get into Kate Bush on the weekend before International Women's Day. In the space of two days, she has grabbed my soul away and even helped me understand something I never did before. In addition, I have also spoken to some friends and it turns out I'm not the only person around my age who has made this discovery recently. Could we be part of a larger group of 20-somethings just getting into Kate Bush for the first time? Maybe. A Kate Bush renaissance is on the cards.


Bush is a fantastic artist. Her music is experimental, her voice is fantastic and her dancing is enchanting. There's a grace to everything she does, like she's gliding over it all. She performs in much the same way as Jack Grealish plays football - they both float on air. That's a comparison I never thought I'd make, but it is surprisingly accurate, so here we are.


If you've never listened to Kate Bush, a) Why are you reading this article? and b) Get on with it! You will not regret it.