Between the Lines: No twerking required

By David Lias

I guess Miley Cyrus did something recently that one would never catch Hannah Montana doing – she stripped down to her underwear during a performance at a televised award show and evidently wagged her tongue.

And, reportedly, other parts of her body.

David Lias

David Lias

I use the term reportedly because I wasn’t there, so I can’t say with certainty that this actually happened. I can only rely on hearsay. And also NBC, CBS, and ABC television news, the Internet, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

There is a video on YouTube claiming to show Miley Cyrus performing at the music awards show. I’ll admit I watched it once. Let’s just say it’s not recommended viewing. The only thing I took away from watching her performance is an overwhelming sense of gratitude that my daughters never felt the need to behave in such a manner.

Her performance shocked the nation, and had the people who write dictionaries for a living scrambling to make an update. Miley has expanded our vocabulary by doing something called twerking:

Twerk – New words: August 2013 Syllabification: (twerk) Pronunciation: /twerk/ verb [no object] informal dance to popular music in a sexually provocative manner involving thrusting hip movements and a low, squatting stance:

just wait till they catch their daughters twerking to this song twerk it girl, work it girl

Origin:1990s: probably an alteration of work

Source: Oxford Dictionary

Twerk is an actual word. It’s already in the Oxford Dictionary.

This happened a few weeks ago, at about the time it looked like the United States was going to fire a few cruise missiles toward Syria.

At that moment, reportedly, a good number of American citizens didn’t care that our nation was contemplating military action in the Middle East.

There were more important issues to talk about, mainly, Miley.

Michael Lofti of ran some analytics on Google to see exactly how much attention Miley stole from Syria, and the results are disparaging to say the least.

On Aug. 25, the night she performed, er, twerked, Miley’s Google peak rating went from 67-100 in less than 24 hours. That same night, the peak search value for chemical attacks in Syria fell to 3, down from a value of 4 from 24 hours earlier.

So, if you’re keeping score: Miley Cyrus – 100; Syria – 3.

I am of a generation that really doesn’t know that much about Miley. The last time I watched a music award show on television was to catch a live performance of Michael Jackson. I have, with the help of iTunes and Spotify and other bits of technology, been able to surround myself with what I consider “good” music.

Miley Cyrus, even before being thrust into a media spotlight a few weeks ago, never had a chance to make it on one of my playlists. There’s no way I’m going to dump Stacey Kent or Diana Krall or Billie Holiday for Miley.

Even though people my age (and older) know little to nothing about Miley, that doesn’t mean we haven’t been tempted to express the type of faux outrage that usually erupts when someone young does something dumb or controversial. Who cares about Syria? Miley shook her rear and stuck out her tongue on national television. Since America’s future rests with our young people, we can only conclude, in full outrage mode, that our country is doomed.

Say it isn’t so, you ask. Ok. I’ll say it.

It isn’t so.

I was assured of this Sunday afternoon, while sitting in Aalfs Auditorium on the campus of the University of South Dakota. Before a packed audience, several outstanding musicians – all of them teenagers – performed for a live taping of the NPR weekly radio show “From the Top.”

The show was brought to Vermillion by the National Music Museum to help launch the celebration of its 40th anniversary. It was fantastic.

One of the performers taking part in the taping is 13-year-old violinist Maya Anjali Buchanan from Rapid City. She travels monthly to Rice University to take lessons with Paul Kantor, and also studies privately with Nicolette Solomon at the Suzuki Music Institute of Dallas. She chatted with the show’s host, Christopher O’Riley, about her growing up in a rural area of the Black Hills, where coyotes howl at night, and where she and her dad collect fresh eggs from their farm’s chickens every day.

Other performers at Aalfs Sunday were 15-year-old pianist Evan Lee from Brooklyn, NY; 18-year-old saxophonist Jon Corin from Sarasota, FL; 16-year-old guitar player Henry Johnston from St. Paul, MN; and The Luna String Quartet from the Artaria Chamber Music School in Minneapolis, MN, which includes 17-year-old violinist Anna Humphrey, 15-year-old violinist Emma Richman, 17-year-old cellist Nora Doyle, and 18-year-old violist Alexandra Sophocleus.

These young people filled the auditorium with the sounds of Beethoven, Liszt, Villa-Lobos and Haydn.

If you couldn’t make it to Sunday’s taping, you’re in luck. Sunday’s episode of “From the Top” will be aired nationally the week of Oct. 21. It will air locally on South Dakota Public Broadcasting sometime this fall.

I highly suggest you tune in. Chances are that, like me, you’ll be reminded that for every Miley that garners way more publicity than is deserved, there is a Maya and an Evan and a Jon and a Henry.

You’ll be assured that, with such a talented younger generation, our future is assured. No twerking required.


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