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The Accidental Dancer: Where the Hell is Matt?

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After returning to the U.S. from his six-month world adventure, Matt had "no job, no money, and no prospects." All he wanted to do was travel. He fell from the ecstatic highs of globetrotting adventure into a depression.

But the one thing he did have an abundance of, was time. So he carefully cobbled his little video together and premiered it to his family in an effort to cheer them up on the night of the 2004 Presidential election.

He reports that they found it "mildly amusing."

Matt dancing at Shibuya crossing in Tokyo. Photo courtesy Matt Harding

Still, his sister wanted to show it to her friends, so he posted it on his Internet site. The following week it showed up on a supergeek forum, which triggered a thousand views, and in that wake it appeared on another site, sparking another 20,000 views.

In a month this "utterly unselfconscious video of a guy reveling in his inadequacies" was viral, a sure indication that what people want most of all is something that lifts their spirits and makes them smile.

Stride gum saw it and approached Matt. "Could we talk you into doing this again? For us? We'll pay."

Matt says, "it just dropped in my lap, the greatest thing in the world to do, the coolest job I've ever heard of." And then he was off on a trip around the world, accompanied for part of it by his new girlfriend, Melissa, who also contributed essential organizational skills.
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Melissa with a lemur in Madagascar. Photo: Matt Harding.

He went to 39 countries on seven continents, from Antarctica to Zanzibar. Dubai to Tikal. He danced with elephants, kangaroos, dogs, and fish. He danced in zero gravity twice.

He got arrested for dancing in Athens. (Ye gods, what would Zorba say?)

In Kjeragbolten, Norway, Matt danced on a rock that is naturally wedged between the two faces of a windy chasm. The wet, slippery surface is some one thousand meters above the water in the fjords below.

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You gotta admire a guy who will risk anything to get the right shot.

In between his fumbling footwork, he got to travel the way he loves best: "I'll take a few haphazard chunks of column over the big spectacle if it means I can see it on my own, without any guides explaining how it was put together, breaking the spell, ruining the ruins."

And he got hundreds of 15 to 20 second dancing clips, which he brilliantly edited into a 3 minute, 42 second, gem of a video.

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Meryl Ann Butler is an artist, author, educator and OpedNews Managing Editor who has been actively engaged in utilizing the arts as stepping-stones toward joy-filled wellbeing since she was a hippie. She began writing for OpEdNews in Feb, 2004. She became a Senior Editor in August 2012 and Managing Editor in January, (more...)

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Meryl Ann, U did it AGAIN! U added a SMILE to my D... by Anita Stewart on Thursday, Jul 23, 2009 at 8:41:36 AM
I loved writing this article, such FUN!  Some of ... by Meryl Ann Butler on Thursday, Jul 23, 2009 at 10:09:26 AM
Have been watching these videos since they came ou... by Jennifer Hathaway on Thursday, Jul 23, 2009 at 10:53:40 AM
I'm really glad you enjoyed it - it sure was fun t... by Meryl Ann Butler on Thursday, Jul 23, 2009 at 11:11:43 AM
story! It's a dream come true.... by Archie on Thursday, Jul 23, 2009 at 3:43:19 PM
It was a dream to write it, too!... by Meryl Ann Butler on Thursday, Jul 23, 2009 at 4:57:42 PM
photo-essay.  Way to go, M.B.... by GL Rowsey on Thursday, Jul 23, 2009 at 4:52:37 PM
I'm so glad you liked my little "good news" oasis ... by Meryl Ann Butler on Saturday, Jul 25, 2009 at 7:44:57 PM
that I have received in personal emails:I LOVED yo... by Meryl Ann Butler on Saturday, Jul 25, 2009 at 7:48:14 PM
This was the first time I'd heard of Matt. My favo... by Dave Kisor on Wednesday, Jul 29, 2009 at 1:09:48 AM