If you were down at The Avenues on February 3—it was a Friday so I’d lay down money that most people in Kuwait were there—you may have witnessed something bizarre. For three minutes and twenty-one seconds, crowds of seemingly random people fell into sync with each other and danced. Not exactly an average Friday in a Kuwaiti shopping mall!
If you didn’t see it live then you may have seen shaky handheld mobile phone footage on YouTube in the following days or finally as a full-fledged Zain TV commercial celebrating Kuwait National Day.
This was a flash mob – Kuwaiti style.
Flash mobs have been around since 2003 when Bill Wasik, then senior editor at Harper’s Magazine, anonymously organized one hundred and thirty people to simply gather in the rug department at Macy’s department store in New York. Fast-forward to present day and flash mobs are everywhere, especially dancing ones; The Sound of Music in Antwerp Central Station, Glee in Rome, and the megamix at Liverpool St Station in London and Dubai International Airport to name but a few on YouTube.
Now we can add Kuwait to the growing list. Cinemagic was approached by JWT ad agency wanting to create something unique and different to celebrate National Day for Zain Kuwait. Cinemagic looked to the multitude of flash mobs on the internet for inspiration but didn’t want to ape anybody else’s work. They wanted to create something totally Kuwaiti and something truly authentic.
Enter Mohammed Al Ehmly, a well-known local theater talent and choreographer. The key word here is local. Cinemagic had decided that they wanted their flash mob to utilze only Kuwaiti elements. This meant finding seventy-five performers from Kuwait to sing and dance, choreographing traditional Kuwaiti dances mixed with modern elements and finally developing a unique music track featuring traditional and contemporary Kuwaiti music. Local youth program LoYac helped out with the young talent and also provided a space for the dancers to practice, especially helpful when trying to synchronize such a large group of dancers. They rehearsed nearly every day for two months prior to the performance. In the final three days before the actual flash mob, they practiced after hours at The Avenues from midnight to seven in the morning to perfect their moves in the real performance environment!
On the day, fifteen cameras were employed to capture not only the dancers, but the public’s reaction to the spectacle. Three cinema cameras were hidden in ‘fake’ booths so as not to arouse suspicion before the event, and DSLRs were carried through the crowds, covering the performance from all angles. The element of surprise was one which director Aziz Al Jasmi and producer Mohammed Younes felt was crucial to not lose authenticity and ensure the flash mob did not look staged. This was an arduous project for all involved but seeing the positive public reaction made it all worthwhile.
To me there is something quite remarkable about the flash mob phenomenon; there is a beauty in seeing people come together in a uniform way and doing something as primal as dance. It seems to speak to the world without saying a single word. It can be taken as a metaphor that if we unite we can create something of true beauty – a fitting way to celebrate National Day in Kuwait.
Cinemagic Kuwait is a state-of-the-art boutique production house catering to all film, TV, and visual media needs. Visit them at www.cinemagics.com or call on +965 25720945 for more information.