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Bosses respond to the dancing YouTube quitter

Staff at the former company of Marina Shifrin, the woman who danced her resignation, respond on YouTube (by dancing and taking their pants off). Were they all told to dance or else?

So long, Marina. Next Media Animation/YouTube Screenshot by CNET

It's a strange serendipity that this morning I was talking, from my sofa, to a class at the University of Missouri Journalism School.

Highly engaged and polite, they were too. (How will they ever make it as journalists?)

During a conversation about philosophy, technology, and dancing, they brought up an alumna, Marina Shifrin. Some seemed undecided exactly how proud of her they should be.

Shifrin, you cannot have forgotten, is the writer who quit a Taiwanese animation company by posting a YouTube video that has now been viewed by millions.

Next Media Animation decided that it would offer a jigging retort, which is also something of a jiggling retort.

Parodying her video, the staff all thought they'd do their own dance and show that everything in the Next Media Animation garden is flowering.

Naturally, the hardened will imagine that they were told to do this under pain of being made to come back at 4:30 a.m. to perform a polka.

However, here we see the staff busting their moves and moving their busts and wishing Shifrin well.

The company has also been very wise in addressing some of the impressions that Shifrin gave through her gyrations.

In a long e-mail and Q&A with Gawker, Next Media Animation's Mark Simon insisted that Shifrin was treated fairly by the company.

He said she was paid $42,000 and worked only a 40-hour week. There is no expectation of overtime.

He said: "I am not spitting nastiness at Marina, but in her nine months with us we sent her to Hong Kong twice, to Thailand for a media conference, and she just came back a month ago from two weeks in LA and NYC where she was pitching animation stories."

Simon is currently in the US, from where he told me that his company isn't a sweatshop: "We run a newsroom and have production schedules. Usually very busy for first half of shift or second half depending on when you're up. But Marina had nearly 170 creative hours logged in last 3 months on coming up with pitches for TV animation. So no one sweating that much."

I asked whether some employees were insulted by her video. Simon told me: "People were at first very hurt. Look, our guys saw it same as a lot of folks, as a shot. Her boss is popular and she was friends. This is a Taiwan company, and friends don't do that to friends."

He wasn't surprised that she decided to leave and that she did warn him about the video, which has become something of a reminder to many who'd like to quit their jobs and don't, can't, or don't know how. Or are very bad dancers.

He told me that the company's owner, Jimmy Lai, tried to keep her on. He is "neither petty nor mean." Relations with Shifrin are, apparently, now "smoothed over."

As for their dancing: "All our dancing is bad, except our presenters. They shot it in an hour or so." And they seem to have sweated while doing it."

I asked Simon whether he thought the story would be good for business. "I don't know, maybe. But for now the answer is I could have done without it. But today I had a woman talking about it next to us at lunch. I did not sell any animation to her and she did not mention the company so I think we are an afterthought. Although our lawyer is making money as they change disclosure portion of contract, so we broke ground again as the You Tube clause is Marina's doing."

At heart, some things don't work out. Was Shifrin another millennial with greater expectations than Dickensian skills?

Only time, perhaps, will decide.

Simon's view? "Marina really is a nice person. The concern I have is the HR types may make a meal out of this if she is up for a job."

Updated 6.22pm PT, with extensive comment from Next Media Animation.