The Dissertation Flail

Margaret coined the name for this dance, but she never showed me the moves. So I finally worked out the steps on my own, and I’m glad to share them here for your use, whenever you’re next at the club. As should be evident from the name, it’s a dance best done to slow, angsty, navel-gazing music.

The Dissertation Flail

  1. Go around in tiny circles.
  2. Hold your hands to your head like it hurts, thumbs at temples.
  3. Go around in tiny circles.
  4. Throw your hands into the air, as if in desperation. Do not, under any circumstances, wave them like you just don’t care.
  5. Go around in tiny circles.
  6. Bang your head, old school Metallica-style, but as if against a brick wall.
  7. Go around in tiny circles.
  8. Twitch spastically.

And there you have it: eight bars of Terpsichorean glory. Dance, monkey, dance!

The Dissertation Flail

8 thoughts on “The Dissertation Flail

  • August 12, 2005 at 8:27 am

    Man, that’s uncanny–it’s almost exactly twinned with “The extended jobsearch reel”; the only difference is the use of props. The throwing of hands into the air involves throwing shredded resumes, and the head-banging makes use of the Giant Wall of Silence.

  • August 12, 2005 at 11:23 am

    The “Ohmygod it’s Monday and I have to teach in five minutes hustle” is a dance I’m most familiar with. Being Appalachian by descent, I’ve added clogging to personalize it as well as amplify my emotions. Wearing my shirt backwards or inside out and adding mismatched socks to the mix really adds to the moment, I’ve found.

  • August 13, 2005 at 9:47 pm

    As a former folk dancer who knows moves from every land, I think what I most enjoy about this choreography are the repeated circle moves. So many Eastern European dances are in circles, although I think my favorite is a Bulgarian “shopska” that coils around, then uncoils into a straight line, all while everyone is twirling hankerchiefs in one hand and holding on to each other’s belt with the other. Hard to describe but maybe we can get a group to bust into these moves at MLA this year. 😉

  • August 14, 2005 at 11:43 am

    Bwahahaha! I think #4 is my favorite. I’ve suggested an additional step over at my blog.

    I’d go to this year’s MLA just to join the dissertation-flail dancing group. In the immortal words (almost) of Emma Goldman: “If I can’t dance, I don’t want your convention.”

  • August 15, 2005 at 12:27 am

    Oh, I like the repetitive “as if” parts. The flailing itself is just a dance.

    You better get a helmet!

  • August 24, 2005 at 3:04 pm

    Looks like there are gonna be more than a few dancing fools at the DC Omni Shoreham for MLA this year. In a somewhat disturbing coincidence, that’s also where my senior prom was held, in the year that most of my incoming students this fall were born. . .

  • August 26, 2005 at 5:21 pm

    In my experience, it was more of a smooth back-and-forth motion, with my right hand gripping the handle of a vacuum cleaner, as I decided that cleaning house was more pressing than finishing chapter 5.

Comments are closed.