“Elastic Heart” by Sia
Today, Sia’s new video for “Elastic Heart” premiered and went viral almost instantly. My feed was clogged up with posts and reposts of this, yet again, peculiar video that only Sia could pull off. It starred Maddy Ziegler, from the popular reality show Dance Moms,and Shia LaBeouf, whom most are familiar with as being, well, a great and controversial actor.
But not in this video. Both Ziegler and LaBeouf are dancing. It starts off with a standoff scene in which both characters are found inside a gigantic bird-cage that is inside a large, empty room. Ziegler is wearing the infamous nude leotard and LaBeouf is wearing nude shorts. Throughout the video, both seem to be “interpretive cage fighting” and sparking multiple questions with their odd facial expressions, movements, and just about everything they do in this “out there” video.
The Odd Costumes
Right off the bat, both characters are seen dressed almost completely exposed, and most might start to feel down right uncomfortable with seeing that. The naked appearance and huge age difference between the two stars could come off as incredibly inappropriate without even watching the rest of the video; however, there may be more to it.
In any dance piece, whether it be live or on video, a costume will either enhance or ruin the dancer’s lines and the overall feel of the piece. The beauty of the nude costumes is that it creates a fuller and more pure picture for the viewer. Ascetically, it is more pleasing to watch and less distracting. Metaphorically, it removes any initial interpretations of the video (if you can get past the nakedness). As for the wig, it’s simple enough to showcase Sia’s quirkiness and still be rather neutral.
It’s pretty obvious they’re fighting in a cage. With each little movement or touch, the other rebounds in some sort of distorted or disturbed way. LaBeouf seems to cower and Ziegler seems to react viciously. What’s strange is that throughout the video, if one of the characters fully removes themselves, the other seems to react negatively. You can see Ziegler collapse in the middle of the ring, LaBeouf scream, and both almost cry at all instances or separation. It’s really quite weird, yet very powerful.
This video is seen as a very abstract representation of Sia’s relationship with her father. She was interviewed on the Howard Stern Show earlier in the year where she revealed her father’s multiple personality disorder, and her own resulting troubles from it. She also revealed having bipolar disorder, and that she used to be an alcoholic. In the video, LaBeouf can be interpreted as her father, and Ziegler as a young Sia. The spastic and random changes in demeanor and interaction between the two could mimic the uneasy father-daughter relationship that Sia experienced growing up. Shifting from loving to destructive motions of expression brings in the difficulty that comes with personality disorders. This makes the video all the more impactful.
In my opinion, the beauty of this video is that regardless of the popular interpretation, it is flexible enough in it’s simplistic presentation to be read as many things. Whether it be father-daughter relationships, relationships generally, or anything relatable to the viewer, it has the possibility to affect even the most uninformed fan.
This was an impressively strange video. It tip-toed around initially very touchy subject matter like costuming, particular movements, and the very obvious age difference. Seeing LaBeouf almost fall on-top of the young girl or watching her be picked up in intimate ways could alarm parents and others whom are unfamiliar with dance, Sia’s background, or anyone that doesn’t find the video in good taste or appropriate. But obviously, not all read into the video as deeply as others, and some many interpret it completely different.
From a dancer’s point of view, it makes you think which is what any good piece of choreography will do. It’s abstract, funky, weird, and lovely all at the same time. Watching both the obvious pain inflicted by and care for one another is so touching, especially when viewing it as a story about a father and daughter (or what ever you think it is about). Like all art, the viewer can manipulate what they see into infinite possibilities no matter the artist’s original intention. The video is interesting, the two characters are definitely invested, and some will feel it “crosses the line.”
Sia did it again. Another gorgeous song, and another one-of-a-kind music video to pair with it.