Welcome to the introduction of something special! This month I go to the NCOSE(National Conference on Sexual Exploitation) conference in Houston Texas from Sept 29 to Oct 1. It will be a special time to gather with experts from all over the country and hear about the latest cultural developments in the identification of pornography as a public health issue.
First, I want you to know that Soul to Sole Choreography and DA:NCE(Dance awareness: no child exploited) is releasing several online materials designed to educate the culture and bring awareness to protect children from unhealthy dance. Those online options include a 4 minute trailer, a 30 minute video powerpoint (one with a trigger warning and one that is PG) along with free speaker slideshare options. That way anyone in the country can give a presentation on this issue in their local area.
Why have I done this?
I love dance and I love children. About 10 years ago I was asked to attend a dance concert on a college campus for one of the dancers that I knew from years earlier. What I saw bothered me; it was a lot of sexualized dance. But at least those girls were making adult choices to participate. As the years have passed and as I’ve attended dance recitals from the local area, I’ve seen an increasing propensity for younger and younger dancers to be placed in sexualized, adult dance content. Now, it seems as if many dance studios have normalized adult costumes, choreography and lyrics for children under 12. This is a distortion of the use of dance. It grieves my heart.
7 and 5 years ago, two grand daughters were born and two grand daughters now take dance (at a healthy, age-appropriate dance studio). I’m delighted by what I see and I very much enjoy watching them grow and dance. They are so excited to show me what they are learning…..my heart smiles as I remember taking dance lessons as a child.
You see, I want young people to have the same choices to enjoy dance that I had as a young girl. Furthermore, I believe that God has designed us to love God with our whole selves: mind, body and spirit. Dance is a beautiful way to connect deeply with the creator in worship. I sometimes observe Christians who struggle with segmented faith. They love God with their minds but cut off their hearts and bodies as they engage with God OR they love God with their hearts but ignore their mind and body. God has created his creatures to worship Him using the integration of all 3 elements. If you agree with that truth, you can begin to understand that dance realizes this integration (whether in a church, in a dance studio, or at home).
I’m quoting Jesus who said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” Mark 12:30
I believe that God has called me to raise the issue of age appropriate dance versus the distortion of dance. My concern comes from deep inside of me, from the inside out. From soul to sole. It’s a call to speak out on behalf of our youngest citizens who cannot speak for themselves. Taught with healthy criteria, dance is wonderful for children. But when dance sexualizes boys and girls with adult material, there are no positive outcomes. Children are being hurt. I must speak out. As well, I believe that many adults involved in sexualizing and creating dance for children aren’t aware that they’re doing it. Research, reflection and education can help them to re-consider their choices.
Watch this 4 minute Dance Awareness Video Presentation to see what I mean:
Please pray for renewed hearts and courage as I speak out on this issue and encourage others to speak out as well. And remember, dance is a wonderful healthy outlet for children when it is used with age-appropriate guidelines. Look for a dance studio that understands and nurtures the hearts, minds and bodies of children with healthy guidelines. Can I encourage you to request dance studio certification through YPAD(Youth Protection Advocates in Dance). And remember…..
Dance is powerful.
Children deserve to learn and experience the gift of dance in safe environments that do not sexualize them.
Children deserve to love dance, their bodies and themselves.
Children deserve not to be victims of sexual exploitation.