How’s this for a job: Unlimited travel, a tripod, and just you? That is Matt Harding’s new life as he, a former computer game designer, travels the world and records himself “dancing badly” in exotic locations. If you’d like four minutes of pure joy, watch this video.
This week Matt brought his 2012 video to the school where I sometimes work. Before his arrival, I was skeptical—what is the point, I thought, in filming a jig in front of the Taj Mahal. But when my students begged to dance with him and he agreed, the smiles on their faces said it all.
A love of travel took Matt on hiatus from his tech job in 2002. He was soon recording himself dancing alone in front of monuments and landmarks around the world. But then a stranger hijacked his facebook entry and posted it on Youtube. When Matt caught up with it, a million hits later, he knew he was onto something. So did sponsors. Funds waltzed in.
When he went to Rwanda, he found no monuments for a backdrop, so he danced with kids. That’s when he realized his true purpose: to show that there are friendly people all over the world, and that “we don’t need to be afraid of each other.” Now all of his clips show him connecting and laughing with people through dance, the universal language.
Viewers are astounded when they see him dancing in places the average American would never go: North Korea, Gaza Strip, Iraq, Yemen. But he believes “the world is safer than it’s ever been.” Americans need to shake off their ever-debilitating fear.
I asked my students what they took away from the assembly, and here’s how they enlightened me:
“Matt merged his passion for world travel with odd dance moves. I want his job.”
“I still don’t know how dancing with people all over the world is a job.”
“With everything you hear on the news right now, war, violence, crime, the world can look like a gloomy place. It’s great to see so many people connect through one thing—simple dance moves.”
“Matt traveled to places that we think are full of terrorists, and we learned that there are nice people everywhere, even in places with bad rulers.”
“I think he dissipates preconceptions.” (This from a sixth grader!)
“When everyone dances together, they are equal and they smile.”
Yes he does. A true Spirited Man.