I don’t know why, but I am fascinated by the dancing of Leo Sayer. First of all, I have loved the song “You Make Feel Like Dancing” for a lonnnng time. Some might not like it, and that’s fine. Hell, I’m a little tired of it at this point after viewing all the videos below.
I watched a couple videos, and was struck by the actual awkward-yet-exuberant dancing of Leo Sayer. It was jerky, odd, sweet, all of those. Anyways, that’s the reason behind this post.
Countdown, an Australian music show (1976)
This video starts out with an impressive giant “LEO” backdrop. But then Leo does this silly pantomime of bewilderedly hearing his backup singers. It deflates the grandeur of the moment. And besides, it’s not your backup singers, Leo! It’s a tape you are lip-synching to!
He starts with a little strut down a lit walkway, which is kind of nice. Then he does more pantomime. He checks his watch when he sings “quarter to 4 in the morning”. He’s checking his watch! He hugs himself when he says “hold me tight”. Pantomiming, the most ancient form of dance.
He’s pretty full into the dancing. He commits to it. You’ll find that in most of the videos, around the 2 minute mark, there’s just backup singers singing, and Leo doesn’t have anything to do BUT dance. This is when he usually pulls out the stops.
The Midnight Special (1976)
Introduced by none other than Lou Rawls! Mr. Rawls seems somewhat confused by the identity of the artist, giving the very awkward lead-in, “the one and only Leo… Sayer?”
But the music kicks in! And this time it’s live, with a large backup band! And there is a white vest involved!
Sayer is a little more reserved here during the first half, rooted to a single spot, mostly because it appears that space is limited on the stage. He does a less demonstrative checking of his watch, but his holding himself tight is a little stronger than the previous video.
Around 2 minutes in, things kick into high gear. He grabs the mic and shows it who’s boss. Leo Sayer is who the boss is! However, the dance break shortly thereafter is somewhat subdued.
The song ends with Sayer doing a mimed freeze-frame which is worth checking out. Well, I checked it out, at least. You have something better to do?
The Captain & Tennille Show
Captain & Tennille present “one of the really great musical artists of our time”.
This is a lip-synched rendition.
There are backup dancers in this, on pedestals uneven with Mr. Sayer. It’s difficult to tell, but it appears Leo Sayer is rather short, and the backup singers are rather tall. My feeling is that the pedestals were included to maybe obscure this fact? Well, either way it makes the whole thing a little more visually interesting.
The focus is predominantly on the dancers, and as a result, Leo seems to be not working as hard. Except for a seemingly improvised pop-up he briefly does on one of the dancer’s pedestals, he’s pretty sedate.
Leo seems a little unsure of himself here. He seems to be thinking, “What the hell am I doing here?” Maybe it’s due to all those menacing phallic props pointing at him.
He’s dressed quite conservatively, in a white button-up shirt and a navy blue blazer. Perhaps this is another reason why he seems a little subdued.
He does do some pantomime — he “snaps” his fingers when he sings “snap your fingers”. He checks his watch again at 3:45am. He holds himself tight. Also, he does this weird finger flutter when he is “shaking on a string, you know”. I have no idea what the hell that’s supposed to mean.
He starts loosening up around 2 minutes, doing this kind of monkey-like, goofy drumming with his microphone. It’s inspired, in a way.
Top of the Pops (1976)
Okay, you think he’s going to be still for this one. It’s a medium close-up of him singing straight into the camera, magnificent hair backlit, accompanied by two more Leos Sayer (that’s the proper pluralization, I believe) singing to each other in profile.
But HOLD ON. 1m20s in things start getting dance-funky. There WILL be dancing.
He skips checking his watch, but holds himself tight. It’s so odd, looking at all these videos. He’s got dance tools in his toolbox, but one never knows if a tool will be utilized.
THIS ONE HAS BALLOONS!
They are dropped shortly after the song begins. Hey, who doesn’t love balloons? An asshole, that’s who.
He seems to be enjoying himself. He’s lip-synching, but so what. There’s a live audience, which he seems to bring some genuine happiness into his dancing.
And did I mention there are balloons?!
Ouch. Sleeveless white t-shirt! That piece of fashion looked good on Freddie Mercury and no one else.
Now dig this… He doesn’t do the pantomime to checking his watch, but right after delivering that line, he appears to be CHEWING GUM. Is this pantomime chewing gum, or real chewing gum? I hope it’s not real.
The video stays pretty tight on him, so he doesn’t really get too crazy or animated in his dancing here.
Musica de los 70s (2004)
This is a live version, and Leo Sayer is much older. He’s not spry as his 70’s self, but he looks great and seems to be enjoying himself.
He does some pantomime that I haven’t seen before. When he says “you’ve got a cute way of talking” he talks with his hand. Shortly after, he pretends to have a dog on a leash.
Oh! He does a different finger thing for the “shaking on a string” line! He does a circular motion with his index finger. You know, if you were to insensitively gesticulate that someone was crazy in the head. But he’s not doing it to indicate someone his crazy — he’s winding or unwinding some form of string. I think.