In her April Sixth Position column, Danielle Georgiou considers the effect that the narcissism of a reality show like Dance Moms has on dance education and training.
by Danielle Georgiou
published Sunday, April 26, 2015
Dallas — I’ve been thinking a lot lately about a topic that has been in the public eye for a few years now, but continuously finds itself in the front of the line when discussions about dance, the media, and
Danielle Georgiou Photo: Robert Hart/TheaterJones
We are all aware that the media plays a huge role in how we relate to our peers in contemporary society. Who hasn’t found themselves in the middle of a conversation at work about the latest episode of some serial comedy or drama, or about what happened on the latest episode of some Real Housewives franchise, or what this or that Kardashian is up to—particularly Bruce Jenner, but that is for another story and another column.
The narcissism that runs rampant on these shows has become a model for parents and
I use the term “dance school” loosely here. In the “Dance Mom Complex,” a dance school is one in which you enroll your children, possibly take them out of their educational school in lieu of homeschooling, so that they can take dance class every day for at least eight hours a day. You pay exorbitant fees for private lessons, group classes, competitions, and costumes. You remove your child from learning environments that foster socialization and creativity for the structurally rigid work environments that instead foster antagonism, aggression, and conformity. But dance class is supposed to be fun, right? Not if you want to make a winner.
If Dance Moms has taught us anything, if you don’t do it Abby Lee Miller’s way, then you might as well find another “hobby.” Dance is becoming a commercialized industry based on managers, prepubescent makeovers, cutthroat behaviors, and less about the art of movement, the human experience, and a connection to the world around you.
Have we lost an understanding of what dance schools are supposed to mean and what their original missions were? In some countries, parents will send their children to artistic vocational schools—circus school or traditionally historic dance schools—to prepare them for a future in doing what they are absolutely passionate about. Sacrifices are made to accomplish these goals, but not at the risk of loosing childhood, experiences, and education, because within these schools is an academic component—studying core curriculum, such as English, history, math, and science is still a focus. But in the instance of the “Dance Mom Complex,” the mission is not about education, but about money. If you spend enough money
We have glamorized and romanticized the celebrity lifestyle at the risk of harming the types of artists we are trying to cultivate. It gives young dancers the wrong idea; if they aren’t making a stir, or causing a buzz, then they aren’t accomplishing their goals—then they aren’t a good dancer. Instead, we should be fostering an environment that promotes learning a specific technique, becoming proficient in that, and developing yourself mentally, emotionally, and physically before trying to enter the professional world.
Education is less about perfection and winning, two themes that are also promoted within the “Dance Mom Complex,” and more about commitment and dedication. While dance teachers at competitive studios might require commitment and dedication from their students, it is sacrificed for the perfect extension, layout, turning sequence, and the medal and trophy at the end of a competition. It
Is that a healthy recourse for the future of dance education? Or is this a beginning of a new trend in how we promote the learning of dance to our youth? We will have to see what the impact of the “Dance Mom Complex” will be on this new generation of dancer and audience.