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“This Is My Favorite Part!”
Child celebrates key Elsa song moments
In the course of this pandemic, Kina has latched onto three Disney movies for her musical inspiration: Moana, in the early days, and Frozen and Frozen II in more recent months. These soundtracks have become the entirety of our musical experience in every way during lockdown, infiltrating our every waking moment (and many of our dreams) and dramatically influencing what music Spotify recommends to us. I swore I would never get into Disney soundtracks, but here I am, one year later, having memorized every lyric in Moana and become obsessed with the string harmonies of “Into the Unknown”, and I think I have to just admit that it’s fine and I’m a dad.
Kina usually has two songs from these movies that she favors for “performances” that occur multiple times a day—and whenever somebody is on video chat. Lately, those two songs are the aforementioned “Into the Unknown” and “Show Yourself”, both from Frozen II (which, for the record, is musically superior to Frozen, though I have watched neither movie and cannot comment on the plots). Drawing both on her repeated studies of the respective scenes from which these songs are taken and on her extensive life experience, Kina has assembled some pretty radical choreography for her renditions of both these songs. Her facial expressions alone are worth the price of admission, but the full experience of her gestures, mimed running, and jazz hands is really impressive—and consistent, largely, from performance to performance.
The actual structure of the “performance” is complicated, and can best be understood as a form of lip-synced cabaret. Kina occasionally sings, but very quietly, and has explained to me in the past that she’d “rather hear Elsa sing it”. As a reformed opera singer and karaoke fiend, this stings a little bit, but Idina Menzel is a legend, and so I can understand her point. What Kina does take pride in is the reproduction of specific shots from the film in her choreography—a well-timed stomp on the floor that sends frost shooting through the floor, running her fingers along an invisible wall of ice, or a carefree flip of her hair. Those moments, in particular, she has taken to calling out as her “favorite part”. She will pause briefly before performing them so that we pay closer attention, and they are in fact impressive.
Kina’s teachers have suggested she perform one of these songs for her school’s virtual talent show, and we’ve tested the waters by having her perform over the phone for her friend Niki, who was deeply moved. There’s something about a little dancer who is really committed to her bit, just flinging her arms around furiously and scowling at the world; it really sells you on Disney in a new way. I suspect she’ll steal the show, and you can be assured that everybody in the audience will know her favorite part.