Wait! Is that a lunch flash mob at Annenberg?

by Simon de Carvalho '14

Lunch Wednesday at Annenberg: vegetable quesadillas, Indian chicken, the usual salad bar, and a spontaneous outbreak of dance.

Annenberg was packed at noon that day with the usual lunch-going crowd going about the usual lunch-going business. There were some visitors, however: A suspicious looking crowd had formed on the balcony where some equally suspicious looking speakers had been set up. There were perhaps a few too many people standing awkwardly next to tables or to the side, but nothing to fret about. And so the freshmen of Annenberg continued with their usual routine.

Until a little after 12:15pm, that is. Then the beat dropped.

Freshman Michael Lai stood alone in the center of Annenberg busting out his best moves as, slowly, more and more of his classmates joined him. Eventually, a cadre of students in Annenberg erupted in spontaneous and joyous dance that was, quite frankly, pretty remarkable. Some video snippets from the event are below.

The 15 freshman in Jessica Berson’s freshman seminar "Movement and Meaning: Dance, Culture and Identity in the Contemporary U.S." organized the flashmob (see famous examples here and here) as their final project for the class.

Alaina Murphy ‘14, one of the members of the class, told me immediately following the flashmob that they had been working on the project for about three weeks. Each student recruited 10 or more friends to join the project. "The choreography has been disseminated through YouTube, so that as many people as possible could learn it," said Berson.

Murphy said that working on the project showed her the power of working in a group, and that there is "lots of academic support" for projects like these at Harvard. "I’m not sure this could have happened anywhere else," she added—"or that the students would have gotten so into it."

Berson hoped that through this project the class of 2014 would be able to "get a glimpse at the power dance has for creating community."

Tyler Cusick ’14, one of the many surprised onlookers at the event, said the flashmob was a great diversion from the tons of work students face during reading period.

Morgan Henry ’14, one of the hundreds recruited to the project by a friend in the seminar, called the event "really awesome and really silly."

Just what we need every now and then!