Monday, December 9, 2013

Good Taste for Dancing Kids

It is apparent that there is a trend in dance out there that comes dangerously close to the edge when it
comes to kids and "age appropriate" material. I believe dance educators, mentors, and instructors should always keep in mind that they are working with CHILDREN. There is no question that much of the music and artistic material these days can be mature in nature and dance is most definitely a sensual art form. Therefore, I believe it must be handled very carefully by those presenting their work with kids. We must be responsible and thoughtful in our choices, and should be cautious of provocative and suggestive dance for little ones. Super sexy dancing in combination with suggestive music and barely there costumes is NOT appropriate for kids. Again, this is my opinion, and the tidal wave is unfortunately flowing the other direction.
Let's leave this for Dita Von Teese
not your 7 year old
All you have to do to confirm this is happening is to watch the episode of "that show" on TV where the dancers are wearing nude sports bras and dancing with pink feather fans while pretending to be Vegas showgirls... at 10 years old! This freaked me right out.. and I was a Vegas dancer once upon a time. These children are so talented and there are thousands of other subjects that would be appropriate for them! If a choreographer wants to create burlesque, perhaps they should move to Vegas or find a different outlet to pursue their dream instead of bestowing it on a group of preteens. Costumes can be cute and sassy without being too revealing. Eroticizing children is unfair. Dance educators need to exercise discretion. We have a responsibility to the next generation of artists and choreographers to show that we are creative enough not to take that cheap shot. Again, this is my opinion and you might think I'm off base and exaggerating.

Costumes can be cute and sassy
without being raunchy
I sometimes have an issue with the term "age appropriate". How about just "appropriate"? Is there really a situation where it is appropriate to teach other people's children something that is sexually explicit? I think it's a very bad choice and in poor taste. There may be a certain amount of sensuosity that is acceptable for teenagers approaching adulthood, as we know they are not asexual. However, do they need to be pushed in that direction? I'm not suggesting that a choreographer never explore this in any way, but I believe that sometimes we need to remember that these are young impressionable minds and bodies. We cannot completely ignore the sensuous aspect of dance but we can proceed with caution.  I do think dance for young people can be done with class AND style without being overtly provocative and still leaving room for choreographers and dancers to express themselves.

I've heard the argument that a child knows it is only acceptable to wear revealing clothing and move suggestively in dance classes and on stage. I am in disagreement. Are kids able to compartmentalize like that?  It hurts my heart to see little sweet girls bumping and grinding in really skimpy costumes in front of an audience when at home they are clutching their teddy bears and sucking their thumbs.

Dance instructors can be very influential in a child's life, especially if a kid loves dance! Beware of instructors who vicariously live out their dream of being an LA or Vegas choreographer on kids. My advice to them…GO FOLLOW YOUR DREAM! It's out there waiting for you. It's not necessarily in your local dance academy.

It IS possible to create entertaining, artistic, and excellent dance that doesn't embarrass an audience. I hope more dance teachers will make the right choice. We should not be in the business of teaching dance to children for our own notoriety.  If you do it for love, the notoriety will follow! We should be seeking to pass on our knowledge to the next generation of artists and entertainers as well as just teaching kids something fun and healthy that doesn't make them grow up too fast.

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1 comment:

  1. Thank you!! Yes, and I even run a small, local dance competition and no way would we allow such costumes. We have strict rules about that. In my dance school, and in schools where I taught, our kids won top awards at competitions, and were always covered up. Smart teachers and choreographers get it.