Choices: Age-Appropriate Children’s Dance Produces Positive Results with DA:NCE

Hi all-

Dance is a wonderful art form. Let’s cheer-lead the positives in dance with 3 articles that can show how all of us can enjoy the positive benefits of children’s dance: Learn about how movement helps children deal with stress: http://www.burnleyexpress.net/news/children-s-traditional-dance-performance-was-perfect-cure-for-exam-stress-1-8556239.    Then read a second article: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/patients-at-st-josephs-childrens-hospital-in-tampa-get-a-prom-of-their-very-own-300461131.html to hear about the healing components of dance from a hospital perspective. Last, enjoy another wonderful article about story-telling through dance: http://www.mi-reporter.com/life/island-youth-ballet-presents-excerpts-from-cinderella/

May I remind you that there are many terrific dance studios and many wonderful dance educators who know how to work with children and teach dance in transforming and positive ways but parents need to understand that dance studios have a variety of philosophies. So adults, reflect and make a wise choice(like you need to do in any area of life from food to cars to TV etc). 

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It’s all about choices. Now take a look at one section of a  blog post I came across. Haley is a thoughtful mom who ‘gets’ the issue of DA:NCE. She posted a blog about why she took her 2 daughters out of one particular ballet studio. I admire her courage and reflection:

“I was so excited when my daughters were old enough to take ballet classes. Dance was such a precious part of my girlhood. I studied ballet from elementary school through high school, performing in ballet companies and musical theatre productions. I rediscovered ballet after my oldest child was born when I started teaching at my former studio and working as a rehearsal assistant for the ballet company.

The opening notes of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker raise my blood pressure as years of memories of waiting in the wings ready to emerge as a toy soldier, a party guest, or Clara rush back to me. It’s in my bones and I was thrilled when my oldest daughter was absolutely overcome with love for ballet. She danced through the house, wore her leotard and tights everywhere, and insisted on listening to classical music at all times. I adored watching her love it all.

When we moved to a different state, I knew it might be a task finding a good studio. All ballet classes are not created equal. I asked around and settled on what seemed to be the most professional studio with the best training. Unfortunately, the class my daughters were placed in was underwhelming.

They were losing interest. But we had already paid for recital costumes and I was going to insist they finish out the year–that is until I watched them learning their ballet recital dance through the observation window. It started with their backs to the mirror (or audience), hands on their hips, shaking their little booties.

I’m just gonna state the obvious that shaking your butt at the audience isn’t ballet, not by any stretch of the imagination. And maybe I’m in the minority here, but I don’t think sexualizing small children is “cute.” Cute is little ballerinas chasse-ing across the stage and plie-ing at the wrong time and you say “aw.” Cute is not sexualized movement imposed on small children who don’t understand what they’re doing.”

On May 13, I answered Haley. Below is a short section from my comments:

“Thank you for your blog post. I agree with what you said and I have been working on this issue for quite a while. BTW, I love dance. I am the founder of soultosolechoreography.org[and DA:NCE-Dance Awareness: No Child Exploited]. I also have a BA in modern dance from the University of CA at Riverside. Moreover, I have a Master’s Degree in Worship with an emphasis in dance and have led the dance ministry at my church for over 20 years. Haley, you understand the serious problem in movement that is bleeding into our culture. Bravo! However, it’s not just dance. We’re normalizing unhealthy exposure to mature  sexual issues for children when we expose them to inappropriate adult costumes, choreography and music. The outcome for all of this is outlined by the APA report in my article and on my website.”

Here’s another excellent article that understands why dance teachers(like me) need to stress the importance of making age-appropriate dance decisions for children: https://curiousmindmagazine.com/dance-teachers-please-stop/

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Will you join me and advocate for age-appropriate dance that does not hyper-sexualize children?

 

 

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