Story Dancer: America’s Got Talent Merrick Hanna

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email
Share on print

In the 12th sea­son pre­miere of America’s Got Tal­ent, 12-year-old Mer­rick Hanna’s dance per­for­mance caught me by sur­prise.

I’m not sure what I was expect­ing from the 12-year-old dude in bright red pants. I cer­tain­ly wasn’t expect­ing to expe­ri­ence a sto­ry. If you haven’t seen the video, do your­self a favor and watch it before read­ing on. If you have seen it, you’ll know exact­ly what I mean when I say he didn’t dance, he told a sto­ry.

Stories are what make us human

As soon as I saw the per­for­mance, the first thing that came to mind is a quote from Jonathan Gotchall’s book, The Sto­ry­telling Ani­mal:

A sto­ry can sneak up on a beau­ti­ful autumn day and melt you.

That’s what hap­pened for me when I saw Mer­rick per­form. Using his body, he visu­al­izes the essence and emo­tion of the song. He brings it to life, makes it human. It’s relat­able because Mer­rick com­mu­ni­cates so much of human exis­tence in a short per­for­mance: the begin­ning of life, joy, sad­ness, and death. To be human is to know this sto­ry, embrace it, to be one with it.

[share­able cite=“Josh Mitchell”]To be human is to be one with story.[/shareable]

Human minds yield helplessly to the suction of story.” ~ Jonathan Gotschall

With­in sec­onds after the per­for­mance, Simon Cow­ell ris­es to his feet and com­pli­ments this young dancer for not just danc­ing, but telling a sto­ry. A few min­utes lat­er, Howie Man­del agreed that it was the sto­ry that made the per­for­mance so good. (They cut this out of the YouTube video, but was in the full ver­sion of the show.)

In oth­er words, the pow­er of sto­ry is so strong, that it’s STORY that we pri­or­i­tize when some­thing reach­es deep into our hearts. Of course, the danc­ing it self was pret­ty amaz­ing, but it was emo­tion per­fect­ly paired with nar­ra­tive that caused this per­for­mance to be a suc­cess.

It turns out that Jonathan Gotschall’s idea that sto­ries make us human still proves to be true. And maybe that’s why the video already has 3 mil­lion views after only being online for a day. We share sto­ries because they’re a part of our human expe­ri­ence.

About the song and songwriter

For fun, I decid­ed to find out more about the song­writer, Alec Ben­jamin. On YouTube his bio says “Hi, I’m Alec. I like to write songs that tell sto­ries.” I won­dered what his sto­ry was. On YouTube, he con­ve­nient­ly pro­vides the “Sto­ry Behind the Sto­ry”:

In this video, Alec explains he got the idea for this song by sit­ting down at the piano and “see­ing” the sto­ry of a hand­made robot. He came up with the concept—ate some tacos at a “dope taco truck down the road”—and then fin­ished the lyrics lat­er that evening. Noth­ing super inten­tion­al or planned out, just a sto­ry about grow­ing up.

Alec’s song isn’t just about a child and a toy robot—it’s a uni­ver­sal sto­ry all humans expe­ri­ence when tran­si­tion­ing from ado­les­cence to adult­hood. It’s about mak­ing new mem­o­ries and leav­ing the past behind.

Alec is a not just a phe­nom­e­nal lyri­cist and melody com­pos­er, he’s a sto­ry­teller. The song is good, but pair it with sto­ry danc­ing and you get a com­pelling sto­ry expe­ri­ence that caus­es tears, feels, and shares.

[reminder]What did you think? Did you enjoy this song and per­for­mance? [/reminder]

You might also like...

Home Delivery Service

Get great articles sent directly to your email inbox.
We value your time and attention and promise never to spam.
Unsubscribe at any time.