When Dance Turns Ugly – Part #4 Narrow-mindedness



Interesting that such a  L…O…N…G… word represents something so limited.

Limited view.     Limited acceptance.     Limited community.

Narrow-mindedness is the topic for our fourth and last installment of When Dance Turns Ugly. We see narrow-mindedness all around us – especially during this presidential election year. But where does it come into play in the dance world? Unfortunately, it filters into dance studios and companies. I have seen it in class and in the competition circuit.

To start this discussion, I want to look at why people dance. For many, it is a chance to move and create. For others, the goal is to get in shape. For others it is a chance to unwind after work or school. And for others it is to become a professional dancer. Being narrow-minded in the dance world usually means that you don’t accept all these many differing goals for dance. Being narrow-minded means that you believe that your path is the only “worthy” path – all other paths are null and void.

Many times I’ve seen dancers, teachers, and competition judges, push aside or ignore those whose dance goals do not include becoming a professional dancer. They become short sighted believing that the only true and good goal for a dancer is to be a professional – otherwise “what’s the point”. I’ve judged many competitions in the past – and have sat next to judges that won’t critique or seriously consider a dance unless they believe the dancers have “professional potential”. This is a disservice to the dancers and to the dance community as a whole. I’ve also seen too many dancers leave dance because they were never going to be a “professional dancer”. They didn’t see the point of continuing. OH how my heart breaks!!!

Dance has a much broader reach than this narrow minded view of what is worthy. To prove this, I asked some dancers to give me one word that describes what dance means to them. And the dancers answered with these words – liberation, salvation, escape, joy, expression, life, freedom, release, energy. These words came from dancers who are training to be professional dancers; and also from dancers who attend college and plan to pursue a different career; and also from dancers who have a full time job and dance recreationally at night. No matter what the goals are of these dancers, it is clear that they share the same passions about dance. In my opinion, – the “worthiness” of a dancer comes from within and is not determined by goals or accomplishments.

We all love dance, we all believe in dance, and we are a community of dance no matter what our goals are. Let’s not get lost in the pettiness of which dance goal is more “legitimate” or more “important”. What is important is how dance makes us feel and how it brings our souls together.

This week, let’s try to open our thoughts to the legitimacy of all the different ways dance reaches people; how dance changes lives with different goals;  and celebrate that dance is so much more than what the world tells us it is. Lets’ strive for –

Unlimited view.     Unlimited acceptance.   Unlimited community.

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