As a little girl, I was afraid. My parents meant well but their alcohol and fighting framed my emotions.
Then I began to take dance lessons. Movement class kept my heart soft and became a refuge for my mind, body and spirit. At that time, I didn’t know how to articulate the interior experiences that flowed out of me but I do now. Through dance, I began to worship God with all of me activated. And that faith embodiment became a refuge that channeled healthy choices.
Let’s fast-forward 50 years. It’s the 21st century and the cultural dance environment has morphed into 2 distinct options for children: healthy versus unhealthy dance.
I first began to notice distortion in dance over 12 years ago. A young woman invited me to a university dance concert. I knew her as a little girl and I went to support her. But the concert was troubling. There was a lot of sexualized dance accompanied by a lot of hooting and hollering during 2 hours of dance presentations. I bought a ticket for the same event the next year and the objectified choreography was even worse.
Then I began to notice more changes in dance, especially for children under 12. When I attended dance recitals to support the young dancers in the Christian dance ministry I direct, I began to see more and more sexual movement and less and less creative art.
But let me clarify. I love dance and I’m happy to say that there are lots of healthy dance educators. My romance with dance led me to receive a BA in modern dance many years ago and to encourage my two granddaughters to enroll in a wonderful dance studio staffed with committed dance educators and live pianists who engage children with plenty of age-appropriate creativity. On the other hand, I have described unhealthy dance studio options that twist movement into sexual objectification. That’s why I need your help. I’m inviting you to be part of a newly formed national DA:NCE team to protect children from an unsafe dance environment. There’s no membership fee, only protection for children who cannot speak for themselves. You can be on my team because most of you know a child or are aware of a child under 12 in dance who participates someplace in your community, at your church, in your neighborhood, your school, or in your family. And if that’s true, I’d like to present you with research that shows the differences between healthy dance and unhealthy dance.
Last month my website released several materials to provide the tools to be on the DA:NCE team.
- A short video showing the problem of sexualization in children’s dance.
- Choose between a PG or R rated research-based 30 minute video that has been designed to bring awareness and education in dance so that children are not exploited.
- Team strategy provides children with healthy dance options; it does not normalize unhealthy, sexual dance movements for our youngest citizens. In case any team member would like to speak out on this topic, I also have a free slide share powerpoint that anyone in the country can use online to give a presentation to build awareness around healthy versus unhealthy dance in their local town.
One more encouragement. Join YPAD (ypad4change.org). It’s a national organization that is working to certify dance studios with healthy movement criteria. Yea YPAD! Go, go, go…
So DA:NCE team members, let’s network! All you have to do is to share this information with your local circle of friends, neighbors and family members. And oh yes…please share the 4 minute video on Facebook and use the presentations to offer community talks to the many others in this country who love children and want them growing up in a protected and nurturing culture.
Remember this truth. Sexualized dance for children disfigures age-appropriate movement options. It distorts the beauty of healthy dance that worked so powerfully in my childhood. I want every child in this country and in the world to experience age-appropriate movement as I did. In the dance studio, I was safe. I could create and express my feelings through healthy movement without judgment. Dance class integrated my mind, body and spirit with joy and started me on the road to become comfortable with me. And I want every child’s personality to embrace that same truth.
That’s what led me to create DA:NCE, to design online resources, and to write this blog.
Join me! Let’s go team…
The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world that it leaves to its children.”– Dietrich Bonhoeffer