The advice given to most aspiring musicians and artists: Don’t quit your day job. But that is exactly what Dotan Negrin did in 2010. He quit his job, packed his piano into a truck, and hit the road.
“I spent two years after college jumping from job to job without really feeling like I was moving forward. I wanted to figure out a way to make a living doing the things I am most passionate about: music, traveling the world, and meeting people,” he writes on his website, Piano Around the World.
Five years and countless locations in 21 countries later, Negrin is still traveling and loving every minute.
Despite the many incredible locations he has played and coverage from media organizations such as People and CNN, the true joy in Negrin’s life comes from the people he meets and the impact he has had on them. “What motivates me every day are the messages I receive from people all around the world who are inspired by my determination to create the life of my dreams,” he explains in his online biography.
What began as an exploration of his own passions became a calling, he explains. “I want to meet people of the world and understand where they come from, their beliefs, their troubles. I want to use Music to bring people together and create a dialogue between neighbors.”
Perhaps that’s why the spontaneous moment captured in the video below is so endearing.
Negrin had set up his piano in Union Square in New York City, accompanied by a drummer. The duo played Duke Ellington’s iconic song, “It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing),” with some personal improvisations thrown in. The hit song released in 1932 essentially introduced to the public the term “swing,” which would later be used to characterize an entire movement within jazz — the swing era, notes Song Facts.
As they played, a couple was moved to swing dance in front of a gathering crowd. While not professional dancers, the couple seems completely lost in the moment, focused only on the joy of dancing to great music. Mixing Charleston with jitterbug dance steps and other improvisational swing steps, the unnamed couple draws all the attention.
Still, neither Negrin nor his partner are upset about being upstaged. After Negrin uploaded the video in 2014, one commenter exclaimed, “This is why I love everything about sharing, playing, and listening to music.” Negrin couldn’t agree more. “Yes! I love playing on the streets. It opens itself up to great conversations and experiences with total strangers,” he replied.