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Mainstream Dance: Where did the class go?

Updated on June 14, 2014

If you knew your young child would be dancing like the video, would you let them dance?

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In the late 1990's, dance recitals consisted of ages ranging from 2 years to adult performing styles of tap, jazz, ballet, lyrical, irish, modern, hip hop, character, production, and more. Every performance was created to help teach the student how to dance with beauty, grace, poise, and simply have fun.The music was always classy as well, and whether for fun or serious the music was always something all ages could listen to. This blogger remembers being very young in the late 80's and early 90's, and the most "provocative" style costume she wore was a bright orange leotard that tied around her neck, a lace long sleeved body suit that came to her mid thighs, tan tights, black socks, and black jazz shoes. At no time in her entire dance career which ended in 2005 did she ever reveal too much skin even as an adult. The view of the audience was to watch the dance, not the body underneath the costume.

In the mid 2000's, dance has evolved to a very depressive state. There are shows on TV such as "Dance Moms" that reveal children under the age of 15 wearing halter tops, booty shorts, thigh high boots or panty hose, mini skirts that flare out and more. They perform routines that involve shaking their bottoms, popping their hips out in sexual flirtation, spanking themselves, opening their legs up to the audience, and more. The songs are sexually inviting for all ages to watch the girls show themselves off as sexual objects instead of pre-teen ballerinas or tappers. When did society decide this was how dance was to be? What happened to the grace and poise of Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, and Ginger Rogers?


This is dance?

From what this blogger can remember, her first taste of Hip Hop was around 1991, when her own instructor performed a Janet Jackson medley during the dance recital. The instructor wore a sequined unitard that consisted of shorts that stopped mid thigh, sheer long sleeves, but the material covered her mid-section completely where no sexual invitation was revealed. During the dance, she stepped behind a strobe light and proceeded to dance for four 8 counts, taking a baggy sequined jacket off her body and step out of it, but the dance in the strobe light was not sexual at all, but just entertaining to watch. The instructor was in her late teens/early 20's, and did not do anything sexual at all during her routine.

In 2001, this blogger performed a hip-hop routine to "The Thong Song" by Sisqo with several other girls her age. The song was obviously not as innocent as the early 90's but was released with a "clean" version so it was able to be used publicly. The costume consisted of a pair of sweat pants, and a long shirt. At no time was the blogger's midsection, chest, or backside revealed or used during the dance for enticement of an audience. But it already became clear from 1991 to 2001, in ten years how the hip hop dance style had changed.

In 2011, a viral youtube video came out that showed seven year old girls dancing to Beyonce's "Single Ladies". These young girls were barely dressed in sequined attire, their mid sections clearly visible to the eye, their dance steps sexual and involved a lot of hip movement that normally only adults would use. This video revealed that dance was no longer for the entertainment and enjoyment of the dancer to learn proper dance, but to stimulate the audience only, and obviously the audience only likes this style of dance. Although the dance movements are incredible for this age of a dancer, is this what we want our young girls to do at this age? To wear "stripper style" clothing, and perform "stripper style" dance moves? Are the parents going to become angry later in life when these girls use these same moves along a stripper pole? Wouldn't that be hypocritical, as the innocence of the child right now should be preserved compared to the lack of innocence of most teenagers and adults?

Brooke Hyland - Garden of Eden

This is an example of good children's dance.

There is a need to "stay with the times" for dance instructors, that fact is very certain. But why are studios following the styles of music videos and adult desires for children, when the studios used to be the styles that music videos and adults followed? If Gene Kelly decided to visit a dance competition today, and sat down in the judge's seat and watched these girls perform this dance linked above, do people really think he would be impressed or completely shocked at the lack of class to the art he for so many years made graceful? How can artists such as Beyonce, Britney Spears, and others feel proud that they have brought dance to nothing more than a sex show for teenagers and under to lose their innocence to?

This blogged had full intentions of placing her new daughter in dance classes when she was old enough, to see if the natural talent that had progressed from generation on in her family passed down, but now the blogger intends to teach her daughter the basics on her own, without the help of a studio that would more than likely place the young girl in a halter top and short shorts instead of a lovely tu-tu or dance style dress, and parade the girl around the stage like a piece of dancing meat instead of a dancer who has poise.

Are instructors truly happy about what has been done to the art they love? On Season one of "Dance Moms", the instructor (paraphrasing) states that she had to teach the young girls a dance of this style and nature simply to keep up with those around them and give them a chance at a competition win. The parents argued the costumes, the dance steps, even the girls themselves felt it was a bit too much. So why couldn't this instructor instead go the opposite and teach the girls something new that was older, classier, and possibly gain the judges hearts?

Disgusting, this is not a dance style.

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