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Tag: child expolitation in dance

Tackling age appropriateness in dance

Tackling age appropriateness in dance

It’s undeniable that the world of dance as we know it is changing, but change isn’t necessarily a good thing. Children competing are getting younger and sassier by the minute. But where do we draw the line between cute attitude and inappropriate for their age? And just where does the responsibility lie in keeping our these talented children inoccent and safe?

The dance competition circuit can be hugely competitive and down right ruthless. Everyone wants to outdo the other, wether that’s in style, song choice or costume. Age also seems to be a factor. Everyone wants to display the strength and talent that their youngest competitors posess, as way of proclaiming the standard of teaching and high ranking of the school. Currently, there seems to be a growing trend of routines being put together for the smallest of the small, and there’s no reason why not to, if they’re strong and talented and able to withstand the pressure of perfoemance. But are some these routines being thought out properly, or are they being thrown together to get the ‘wow’ factor???

I’ve seen it for myself at competitions and festivals. Tiny little dancers dressed in even tinier costumes, or gyrating and wiggling with moves way beyond their innocent age, or dancing to lyrics that are so innapropiate, it goes well above their heads. Even worse, all 3 of these things are combined and the result is a bitter after taste. This is done simply to get a reaction from the crowd or make it memorable for the judges. But is it morally acceptable?!

In this day and age where everyone is hyper cautious with their children – online security, stranger danger etc, why is it suddenly acceptable to be putting our children through such a compromise just because they are on a stage ‘performing’?! With regards to costumes that seem to shrink by the second, people argue that it’s no different to a child wearing a 2 piece swimsuit on the beach. But there’s a huge gaping canyon between a child running around being a child, and a child exectuting supposed ‘dance’ moves complete with pouting lips and adult like, diva like attitude in said tiny 2 piece. The song choice also has a huge impact, with lyrics having an adult theme. Even with some of the lyrics being sensored out, the theme of the song can be too risque for tender little ears. No, they may not be old enough to understand what’s being said, but should we not be proctecting our little ones from content that is way beyond their years?!

Certainly the dance content, song choice and costume choice are down to the dance teacher. It is their responsibility to ensure that we are not only preserving the innocence of the children, but preventing them from being exposed to things that are well beyond their years. However the teachers can come under pressure from parents to make dances more ‘modern’, more of what’s currently ‘in fashion’, in a hopeful bid that their child comes home with a medal. Facing a bunch of disgruntled and opinionated dance mums can be intimidating, often with teachers caving into thier suggestions so not to upset anyone or potentially loose them to another studio.

But let’s not forget why some dance mums are so ready to enforce their suggestions onto teachers. They attend all these competitions, watching and waiting in the auditoriums for their own children to perform. They see the tiny costumes, hear the chart song music choices and note the whoops and applause from the mature dance moves. Finally, they see such acts win medals and trophies and will do whatever it takes for their child to obtain the same results.

So, judges and adjudicators are willingly placing and awarding points to these scantily clad dancers, sending clear messages to the audience. But why arent they using their influence to applaud and recognise the technically sound dancers, the young dancers setting the stable foundations of good dance practice, instead of awarding the ones that look so cute jiggling, fist pumping and thrusting.

Instead of placing the blame firmly in one camp, it’s the collective responsibilty of everyone involved and maintain integrity. Judges, it is your task to award those who dance with age appropriate costumes and moves. Teachers, it is you responsibity to choose appropriate moves and themes, relevant to the age of the dancers and not succumb to any outside pressures. Finally parents, try and be more trusting in the dance teachers choices, and not forcing ideals to win the prize, although equally if there are choices being made that arent in the best interests of the children and jeopardise their innocence, do not be afraid to speak on behalf of your children.

We all need to make a stand against this reoccuring trend seen at competitions. It’s basically sexual exploitation of children for merit, accolades and money. The children have no choice and do as they are instructed, so it is up to us all to fulfil the moral obligation. Just because certain outfits, songs and moves get more of a reaction and acknowledgement, doesnt mean it’s right. We all need to play our part in keeping the innocence of children

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