Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Staples Grad Dances the World to Web Fame
Matt Harding grew up in Westport, graduated from Staples High School in 1994, and didn’t do a whole lot of traveling except for the occasional family trip to Disney World.
Matt Harding dances with friends in Luang Prabang, Laos. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Photo by wherethehellismatt.com
Maybe that has something to do with his now becoming an Internet sensation known for his world travels dancing a little jig one newspaper described as “something in between a tap dance and a seizure.”
Actually, Harding, now 29 and living in Seattle, has starred in two Web videos showing him doing his goofy dance around the world – every place from Prague to Palau, Red Square to Rwanda.
The first journey he paid for. The resulting video led to the second that covered six months and 39 countries with the Stride chewing gum company picking up the tab.
It has attracted more than 2 million hits since debuting in June and can be seen at his Web site, wherethehellismatt.com
Matt Harding: dances his way to Web fame. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo
Harding acknowledges he wasn’t the greatest student at Greens Farms Academy and later at Staples.
Asked if there was anything about growing up in Westport that might have contributed to his current Web notoriety, he replied:
“The teachers for sure. A few in particular at Staples really opened my head and taught me how to learn on my own. I think that’s the most important thing a teacher can give a student.”
After graduating Staples, Harding used his love of video games to become editor of a video game magazine. That led to a decade of jobs from Los Angeles to Brisbane, Australia.
After leaving Australia in 2003, Harding put up a Web site to keep his family (his mother was living on Westport’s Compo Road South at the time) and friends abreast of his wanderings.
A buddy suggested he do a dance everywhere he went and record it on video. He did, including a segment shot outside his mother’s Westport home. The rest, as they say, is history.
Matt Harding struts his stuff for some African elephants. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Photo by wherethehellismatt.com
Harding’s videos have won him fans around the world. Some have even put together a tribute to him on youtube.com showing people dancing, doing his “thing.”
The trailer reads: “One man danced for the world, now it’s time for the world to dance for one man.”
Harding’s Web dancing has led to countless news stories and network television appearances, including “Good Morning America” which featured him dancing live in Times Square.
Asked how he feels about all the attention he’s gotten, Harding replied simply, “I’m thrilled that so many people enjoyed the video.”
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Note: WestportNow Publisher Gordon F. Joseloff is also First Selectman of Westport