Maybe you're out, just a good night out on the town. Maybe you're with someone, someone special. Maybe y'all go get a drink, a bite to eat, or catch a movie. Or, maybe you find a quiet place, an old skating rink's parking lot or a hilltop overlooking the city. The stars and the moon are out and bright, begging for your attention. Maybe you turn the engine of your car off, let the radio play something slow.
Maybe you and that someone step outside, leaving the windows down, and right there under that star and moonlight, maybe you pull each other close and dance. Maybe it lasts just long enough for Clapton to tell her how she looks tonight, or maybe it goes on all night. It doesn't matter; all that matters is that dance. It's freeing, it's magical. It's just the two of you, letting the music and the rhythm of your feet say everything your voices can't. Because that's what dancing is. It's a voice all of its own.
Music and dancing have always been a powerful force. Sometimes, they're far more than just a tool that brings two people close, though. Sometimes that voice speaks far more powerfully, saying the words of entire populations. Whether in communist Russia, rural, baptist towns in Oklahoma, or the early twentieth century where Christian Bale has to rally a ragtag group of paperboys into standing up to Robert Duvall, dancing has been that factor, that voice, that gives the small people something huge to say. And, while maybe here in the comfortable confines we find in our great country, something even as important as dancing is a simple whimsy, something that's done as easily as laughing or eating or sleeping, in the rest of the world, the people aren't so lucky. In the rest of the world, the dance still speaks that voice.
One Million Steps is a 2015 documentary short that gives us a small but powerful glimpse at this notion. Shot during the spring of 2013, the film shows a brief look at the clearing of Gezi Park in Istanbul, Turkey, when thousands of the cities inhabitants stood together to take their homeland back for corporate invaders. Eva Stotz, the movie's director and "writer", chooses to take this idea of dancing being a voice quite literally. For nearly the entire twenty minutes of the movie, hardly a word is spoken. Instead, the dialogue of the movie comes not from a mouth but from a pair of feet. Marije Nie's feet to be exact. Miss Nie is a tap dancer, you see, and a thumping good one too. Maybe I've seen Fred Astaire's "firecracker" routine one to many times, but something about that gentle whisper, that wonderful, melodious tap that only a good pair of shoes can ring, sucks me right in faster than an earnestly talking woman does Lloyd Christmas. Throughout the streets of Istanbul, that tapping is heard by all. Yes, there are the sounds of crying, of tear gas canisters being launched, of people screaming, but there is ever also that gentle tap.
While a worldwide protest would follow the clearing, a protest of silence and resolution, sometimes something as small as a simple dance can be heard louder than anything, even the silence of the world.
The short is beautifully filmed, catching so many small moments that can only be seen in the wake of those astounding moments of history. A childlike scrawl pops up on the screen from time to time, showing us the number of steps that are taken by our dancer from the moment she literally "drops" onto the street, until she follows it right into the heart of the carnage. One step, ten, a thousand, a million, each step a pebble thrown at justice's window. If there can be music in the wind, or in a child's laughter, than so to can there be when a city weeps. And, as it has been since the dawn of man, where there is music, there will be dancing. Sometimes, not every step need be a long, confident stride, that meticulous gait like Michael Myers walking steadily after you with his kitchen knife, always just behind no matter how quickly you sprint away. Sometimes all that's needed, the only thing that will get you from here to there, is that gentle little tap.