When Dance Turns Ugly – #3 Cliques

whole and parts

This is the third installment of When Dance Turns Ugly. Previously, we discussed arrogance and jealousy. This blog takes a look at cliques. I think we can all identify with cliques one way or another. We are either part of a clique or left out of a clique. This week, I actually have two definitions of cliques. First –

Clique: a small, exclusive group of people.

Cliques can play a positive and supportive role in people’s lives. You interact with those that hold similar goals and values. You inspire each other and push each other in those common goals. You feel like you are a part of something and you feel understood and accepted. In the dance world, we all are a part the Universal Dance Clique. Me – in Kansas, share the same feelings, goals and frustrations about dance as a dancer in Maine. The two of us and our dance friends could meet at a coffee shop and talk about dance for hours, and we would be instant friends.

Now for the other definition –

Clique: A small close-knit group of people who do not readily allow others to join them.

We all belong in the Universal Dance Clique! YAY!! But, what happens when narrow it down to our smaller dance cliques. I will use my younger dance self as an example. I was part of a group of dancers in the same training program. We all had the same teachers, same studio, same lockers, same everything. So we were a Dance Program Clique. I felt a part of it for sure. We also had smaller cliques determined by styles of dance. There was the ballet clique, the jazz clique, the contemporary clique, and the hip hop clique.  And, that was a GREAT thing! I felt part of the larger picture – which was the Dance Program Clique, and then I also had my besties in my contemporary clique. All was good!!

However, the longer I was in the program, the more I realized that this clique thing also had some negative sides. By the middle of the year, I saw that emphasis was placed valuing each clique and trying to establish which clique had the “better dancers”. Unfortunately, there was back stabbing and a lack of support. If the contemporary clique had a performance, no one from the other cliques would come watch – and vice versa. Or if we did watch each other, it was filled with critical looks and scrutiny. Because of this clique war – our bigger picture started to crumble. Dance became competitive and full of negative feelings. It effected our performances and eventually infiltrated our audiences. We weren’t as strong individually and definitely not strong as a whole. Eventually, my contemporary clique disbanded and that part of the Dance Program fell apart. It was very discouraging.

I’ve learned a lot since that time about the dance world, about cliques, and about what is important. It is good to have a supportive clique, cheering us on and being our biggest fan. But – we must remember not to exclude others from our respect just because they specialize in another style or because they are on a different level than us. As members of the Universal Dance Clique, let’s make it our personal mission to support and believe in ALL dancers – because after all, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts” – Aristotle.

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