Let me first say that, I am overly excited about the latest dance craze on television! I think it’s great! From, “Dancing with the Stars” and “America’s Best Dance Crew” to “So You Think You Can Dance“, the world is finally getting a taste of the wonderful world of dance, how hard we dancers work, how passionate we are, and the enjoyment that
comes from watching dancers perform.
But to me there’s one flaw in these television dance competitions, and a dark side to all of this. Are we forgetting that Dance is an art form?
Art is an expression. Competition is an Opinion. Art encourages creativity; Competition perpetuates a winner vs. loser mentality. Art embraces freedom of expression, Competition enforces rules and expectations.
What are we teaching young, talented dancers/artists ultimately, if we focus so much on who’s 1st place, and who’s not, who won, and who lost? I expect this type of mentality and approach when it comes to sports, but when it comes to art; I have a difficult time embracing this concept.
It’s such a shame to watch so many talented dancers be eliminated, or lose in these competitions, when their skill-level, technique, and clear passion for dance is so strong. You might say, “Well, it’s all in good fun, competitions aren’t to be taken so seriously”.
That may be true. I mean, I participated in dance competitions frequently as a child, and really enjoyed them. But, as a professional, when you’re taking time off from work to participate in an unpaid dance competition, that you may very well lose, and walk away with nothing but “exposure”, I wonder if it’s all worth it.
Although we all love a good dance competition, underneath it all, are we not undermining the very thing that Art represents? An opportunity for someone to express themselves, their emotions, their creativity, etc., in a totally honest way, without the concern of judgment or criticism. I mean, most artists do what they do, because they love it, not because they want approval from others, or have a main goal of impressing others.
Maybe it’s just me, but when I dance, it’s an expression of the innermost, deepest parts of myself, my thoughts, my emotions, my experiences. My audience, by watching me, hopefully gets to feel some of that, or have some sort of physical reaction to the performance. Whether it is a smile, laughter, remembrance of a painful experience, being perplexed, sheer enjoyment, sheer pleasure, or simply an escape from the grind of everyday life. I’m not looking to be given a score, on a scale of 1 to 10, nor am I interested in being compared to the dancer next to me. I’m simply expressing myself. It is something to be observed and respected. And if you don’t get it, or you don’t like it, that’s fine. That doesn’t affect the validity of ones talent or creativity. That’s what makes it art. It just is.
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