The article “The aesthetics of music video: an analysis of Madonna’s ‘Cherish’” written by Carol Vernallis presents a thoughtful narrative regarding the use of different art forms in the visual representations of the musical genre. The author delineates a vast array of such characteristics that define the essence of the musical clips, their attitude to the viewers, emotional appeal, and sensual idea. For example, Vernallis mentions that such aspects include but are not limited to the flow of motion, continuity of lines, interchangeability of the contours, forms, and basic shapes. Another set of musical characteristics refers to such elements as motive, phrase, lyrics, timbre, texture, harmony, and rhythm. Exploring an immense amount of these aspects, Vernallis notes that one of the most crucial things is the harmony of their combination in the entire composition. Yet, from these words, it is possible to understand that such a state of balance between the visual, spatial, and musical characteristics can be achieved by the implementation of dance and choreography.
The considerations of Carol Vernallis indeed help the readers to open up and expand their understanding of the choreographic music video. From her article, one realizes that dance creates a strong emotional paradigm. The most crucial thing in dancing and choreography is plasticity and harmony that will help to align the visual narratives with the musical ones. For example, the researcher notes that the “contour of the melodic line…is established through the use of space similar to that of dance” (Vernallis 167). It is apparent that choreography is indeed a rather unique dance direction that stands on the basis of deep perception and understanding of music and using one’s body to the maximum of possibilities to reflect its flow.
As Vernallis mentions the concept of “kinosphere” of the body, mentioning that it presumes that a human body is in the center of “gravity and an implied larger sphere” (167), it is evident that one of the key objectives of using choreography in music videos is to emphasize and highlight the individuality of the performer, creating an integral picture and provoking an emotional response in the viewers. Dunagan, in her turn, denominates choreography as a reflection of “cultural values” (n.p.). Therefore, it is clear that dance implies not only the explicit aspects but also an implicit message, telling about the performers and their stories, thus being treated as a special narrative.
From the article of Carol Vernallis, one can understand the uttermost meaning of dancing and choreography as a narrative tool. The pace of motion, as well as its flow, bear the responsibility of telling the story, accompanying the music with the dance moves. Vernallis entails that a “slow motion… through space, along with the waves” (155) contributes to the sensuality of the ‘Cherish’ video, making the viewers indeed carried away. It is possible to compare Madonna’s clip with the music video “Thriller” by Michael Jackson. In her other book, “Experiencing music video: aesthetics and cultural context,” Vernallis analyzes the dance moves of Jackson and notes that the rhythm of his dance means that he can demonstrate his power over the music. For instance, the scholar reflects on the changes in the pace of choreography, marking that when the dance is slower, then moves in sync, and finally seems to “supersede the music” (Vernallis n.p.), this moment creates the feeling of presence un\in the moment, also highlighting the power of the performer.
All things considered, in her article “The aesthetics of music video: an analysis of Madonna’s ‘Cherish’” Carol Vernallis explores the music, visual, and choreographic means of creation of a deep emotional response in the viewers. It is evident that choreography can be treated as an independent tool for narration because it is capable of telling its own story. In Madonna’s video, dance moves are masterfully incorporated into music, permeating into the flow of sounds and the voice of the performer. Yet, choreography can bear its independent meanings, emphasizing the personality of the performer or vice versa, making the singer blend in the atmosphere of the music.
- Dunagan, Colleen T. Consuming Dance: Choreography and Advertising. Oxford University Press, 2018.
- Vernallis, Carol. Experiencing music video: aesthetics and cultural context. Columbia University Press, 2004.
- Vernallis, Carol. “The aesthetics of music video: an analysis of Madonna’s ‘Cherish’.” Popular music, vol.17, no.2, 1998, pp. 153-185.