Leonard Cohen’s Onstage Dance Moves


Montreal Gazette Proposes, DrHGuy Discloses

In spite of his long-undeserved reputation as the doyen of depression, Leonard Cohen is, in fact, something of a song and dance man. Performing before 12,600 devoted fans at the Bell Centre Wednesday night, Montreal’s favourite son worked his three default moves – the crouch, the jaunty two-step and the full kneel in soulful supplication – with good-natured grace. Watching the 78-year-old singer-songwriter and poet tucking into his formidable repertoire with such glee, it was hard to imagine anything quite as life-affirming. [emphasis mine]

Opening lines of Bernard Perusse’s Concert Review: Leonard Cohen at the Bell Centre; Nov. 28, 2012 (The Montreal Gazette, Nov 29, 2012).

Ongoing readers will perhaps recognize something familiar about the notion of Cohen’s ” three default moves – the crouch, the jaunty two-step and the full kneel in soulful supplication” since these have been discussed in some detail in previous Heck Of A Guy posts. The following content is from this site’s archives.

The Crouch

From Crouching Cohen, Hidden Icon: (posted July 22, 2012):

The Cohen Crouch In Posed Photos

When I recently posted the above photo at The Inexplicable Leonard Cohen, I rhetorically asked, “Is there any other icon who could look cool in this pose?” While I haven’t come up with another icon with that capacity, I did recall that this was not the only photo of the ever more inexplicable Leonard Cohen himself assuming a similar posture.1 (click on thumbnails to enlarge image)


The Cohen Crouch In Performance Photos

The true epiphany, however, was the realization that these crouches were precursors of the moves Leonard Cohen performed onstage during the 2008-2010 World Tour. (click on thumbnails to enlarge image)


The Jaunty Two-Step

While I can’t be certain, I suspect that Mr Perusse’s “jaunty two-step” refers to the move known in these parts as “white man dancing,” which has been covered here many times, including According To Leonard Cohen, The Future Has White Folks Dancing (posted February 4, 2009):2


White Man Dancing

There’ll be the breaking of the ancient
western code
Your private life will suddenly explode
There’ll be phantoms
There’ll be fires on the road
and the white man dancing
You’ll see a woman
hanging upside down
her features covered by her fallen gown
and all the lousy little poets
coming round
tryin’ to sound like Charlie Manson
and the white man dancin’

~From “The Future” by Leonard Cohen

The concerts of the Leonard Cohen World Tour have featured, as noted in a previous post, Cohen running, skipping, and performing “high kicks.”

As it turns out, he has also taken to illustrating the “white man dancing” lyrics of “The Future,” as demonstrated in the videos below.3

In the first part of the tour, the dance was a measured shuffle, carefully executed.

Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada (May 23, 2008)

Sometime during the next two months, the dance became more adventuresome.

Leonard Cohen – The Future – Lisboa (July 19, 2008)

 The Full Kneel

Well, we like to call it the “Full Cohen Kneel,” but that would be splitting hairs.  Regardless, three years ago, Heck Of A Guy was posting about someone else imitating the already established Full Cohen KneelDino Soldo Executes Full Cohen Kneel At Leonard Cohen San Jose Concert (posted Nov 15, 2009):

Dino Soldo in Full Cohen Kneel

The Dino Dialectic

Perhaps the most prevalent criticism of the Leonard Cohen World Tour concerts has been that Dino Soldo’s solos and the associated gymnastics are too intrusive, too distracting, or just too much.

Perhaps the elements of the Leonard Cohen World Tour concerts most frequently praised by fans – other than Leonard Cohen’s performance itself – have been Dino Soldo’s solos and the associated gymnastics.

Both sides were provided with new evidence of their positions at the November 13, 2009 San Jose show.

For the first time in a sanctioned event, Dino Soldo, starting in the Modified Perch position on the sound monitor apparatus, transitions into a Full Cohen Kneel during his harmonica solo in “I Tried To Leave You,” sticks it, pumps thrice, then adds an unexpected Kneeling Sidestep lateral movement, and finally ascends, returning to his position on the sound monitor.

The applause from the appreciative audience extends past his dismount until the next competitor begins.

Leonard Cohen – I Tried To Leave You (San Jose, 11/13/2009)

While the video will automatically begin during Dino Soldo’s solo, a few seconds before he goes to his knees, I heartily recommend restarting the video afterward to watch the entire performance of the song. This can be accomplished by simply dragging the button on the timeline at the bottom of the screen back to the far left and clicking on the arrow.

Video from albertnoonan


Classic Cohen Kneel Performed By Cohen Himself

The Classic Cohen Kneel, as performed at the Beacon Concert

The Classic Cohen Kneel, as performed at the Beacon Concert

Credit Due Department: Photo atop this entry found at Coachella Forum., where it was posted by Buddy.  Other photo credits can be found at the original posts.

  1. There is also an excellent photo of a crouching Leonard Cohen from 2006, but my repeated attempts to contact the photographer have been unrequited. []
  2. A less likely possibility is that “jaunty two-step” alludes to Mr Cohen’s skipping, which is also the subject of many Heck Of A Guy posts, including What Makes Leonard Cohen Run? (posted Jan 15, 2009) and  Leonard Cohen In Belfast … Possible Best Skipping Of Tour (posted July 29, 2009) []
  3. All the videos in this post are set to begin just before the desired sequence. Unfortunately, I do not have a practical means by which to automatically stop the video before the end. The viewer can, of course, simply turn off the player at any point. To see some or all of the video that takes place before the automatic start, drag the indicator (the circular button on the bottom bar) to the left. []

2 responses to “Leonard Cohen’s Onstage Dance Moves

  1. Hilda Fernhout

    There is a Sort of Leonard Cohen crouch to be found on the following website:
    It was taken by a dutch phographer in 1974…
    He is ‘crouching’ on the backdoor steps of The Royal Palace in Amsterdam…
    He performed at the Jaap Edenhal at the time and while I was waiting
    at the main entrance a limo drove up and he got out and shook hands with the 10 or 15 people there….