When Did We Lose the True Meaning of Dance? ● 2017

Guys, I have the BEST idea for a new TV Show! I’m telling you, it’s bloody brilliant

So there will be a panel of 3 judges. Bring in one major celebrity who will be the ‘front-man’, a couple of other D-listers who kind of know the industry and stick them behind a table of 3 buzzers.
Going in solo or by groups, each act performs a self-choreographed piece, in attempt to wow the judges AND a live studio audience, eventually going on to win a HUGE CASH PRIZE

Wait, what?! That’s already been done?!

Honestly, I don’t think I can hack any more of these so-called ‘dance’ competition reality shows. But, yet again NBC have recently started airing ‘World of Dance’ and yet again my Facebook feed is bombarded with shared videos of particularly prodigious pieces.

We’ll get back to this later…

Now throughout my life, I have always found a certain level of difficulty in expressing emotions. Only very close friends and family generally know how I’m truly feeling. I have a perfect poker face (one I should probably take to Vegas with me at some point) and have put myself into quite emotional danger at times by pouring everything into a giant green bottle and twisting on the cap.
But when it came to dance, it was my own way of bringing these feelings to life. Ask any dancer; professional or amateur. Dance is an act, every movement should mean something, whether you’re experiencing extreme pain, falling in love, or slut-dropping like it’s hot..

But bring on the dawn of ‘Dance Moms’ and the industry begins a whirlwind of change around us and suddenly a new era of ‘dance’ is born.

**Rewind to some point at the beginning of my dance career**

It’s a typical Tuesday morning…for most
For the dancers, it’s much more than that. Your favourite artist is auditioning for their upcoming live show and the word has spread like wildfire.

Pineapple Dance Studios, Covent Garden
Come ready to dance, bring heels & come LOOKING HOT!
(again WTF is that?! One for another time)
Be prepared to stay all day if recalled.

So you’ve taken a whole day off work, because you KNOW you are a good commercial dancer and maybe, just maybe this time might be ‘The Time’.
So you arrive at 9AM – just to be safe
There’s ALREADY a queue 165 people long. It goes all the way round that corner towards the M&S right by the station. Which is the WORST place to be because you’ve already been starving yourself the last two days in preparation to ‘look hot’ and you end up watching people purchase freshly-baked-golden-brown-flaky croissants and then eat them RIGHT INFRONT OF YOU. Then as you look away you catch Percy Pig’s smug little face looking at you with a smile that says; EAT ME NOW!

**Fast Forward – because even my writing can’t make queueing interesting**

You’re in the room. Probably wearing some sort of crop top and high-waisted-stomach-sucking knicker, boobs pushed up to the chin and a full face of stage make-up that you were attempting to plaster on at 6AM that morning..
A routine is taught in about a minute and a half – ok, that’s an exaggeration. 2 minutes.
You whack out this routine like you’re in RuPaul’s lip-sync-elimination…without the lip sync. (Although you’d be surprised) You’ve just about got all of this down, while staying centred in a pair of platforms and trying to keep your hair-ography out of your eyes

“Now Freestyle!”
Great, yeah, I knew this would be coming. So I continue with a piece of choreography I’ve performed before in a showcase…they’ll never know

“Now Lets See Some Tricks”


Am I going to get a treat at the end of this or something?
Some instantly start flipping their bodies about like pancakes, others folding themselves ass over face and the latter just stand back and just observe (including myself). Probably thinking they’ll make an absolute tit of themselves if they did try anything.
THE MINUTE a dancer descends into a ‘death-drop’, tips into a ‘tilt’, or somersaults and lands in a split you IMMEDIATELY hear a following of finger snaps, screams of ‘YAAAS’, along with shoes practically being thrown at their faces – which apparently is a way of showing you’ve slayed?? I dunno..

So basically, the industry is saying being JUST a dancer isn’t enough anymore and you now have to be a dancer/gymnast/contortionist/circus freak/slayer…
I want to find whoever made this rule and punch them square in the face

**Back in the present**

I watched an episode of Dance Moms once. The glorified and downright gobby Miss Abby Lee was holding auditions for replacements within her prestigious dance company
This is LITERALLY what she said;

‘Lazy slugs need to go. I’m looking for kids with high kicks, over-stretched splits, great flexibility AND they’ve gotta have the look’

I’m sorry, did ANY part of that statement scream out ‘dancer’ to anyone??
I mean of course things like flexibility help, but is that REALLY the main priority??

But besides the point, when I can’t stand in the centre of the room and raise my leg beyond the laws of physics because my hip rotation PHYSICALLY won’t let me; does that make me less talented than the girl next to me??
When I can’t quite bend myself backwards until the sole of my foot is caressing my forehead, does that make me lose the job??
Should I blame my Mum for not sending me to gymnastics and acrobatics AS WELL AS all my dance classes as a kid??
Should I stop being true to my expression of emotion through dance by complying by this new stereotype?

Think about the many moments Adele has dropped a ballad or lyrical song in the last 5 years. You’ll probably be hearing it much more than you want to – because GUARANTEED you will hear that composition being used by a contestant on the ‘X Factor’, then as you change the channel a shadow puppet master will have it as background music on ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ and just when it’s really embedded in your head; the next channel serves up a young girl with incredibly elastic muscles trying to convince you that doing a backflip is the perfect move to portray the emotion she is feeling within the song..

And OF COURSE the audience is WOWED
This is 2017 for goodness sake. It’s all about the visual. If there hasn’t been at least 2 attempts of gymnastic movements performed within the first 43 seconds of a routine; we’re bored.

If you haven’t started watching ‘Black Mirror’ yet, I seriously urge you to, because the whole charade and jamboree of a ‘talent show’ nowadays just hides the narcissism behind layers of LED lights that could illuminate the darkest corners of this Earth; and it really starts to relate to the twisted ideas of one of the episodes.
It’s not enough now to just dance. 99% of the studio audience probably won’t even understand what dance really is – but its THEM who sit and silently (sometimes) judge you as a contestant, alongside the celebrity panel who are being PAID obscene amounts of money to be there.
And now that’s being spilled over the sides of the bowl of our already over-filled industry.

How is it one be so moved by a famous ballet such as Swan Lake or Romeo & Juliet, when the dancers never speak a word??
Because the choreography corresponds continuously with the story and music like 3 long roads merging into one smooth-sailing empty freeway.

Dance is an ACT, you don’t just carry out the steps. Every single movement has to mean something, have a purpose. You tell the audience a story, you include them on your wondrous journey across the hills of your emotions hand-in-hand.

And this is what brings me back to Facebook fiends sharing these clips of talent shows on their timelines. I’m sorry kids, but I’m really not convinced that wrapping your leg round your neck while clenching the sides of your skull means you’re having a tough mental breakdown.

I’m probably sounding very bitter and begrudging by this point, but I promise you that’s not the point here.
Yes, these performers are extremely talented and my goodness having them skills would have helped massively, but at what moment did the brains of the industry allow the philosophy and meaning of dance take a back seat and suddenly give free-reign to any form of bodily movement?? Kids now are being taught routines that are so focussed on being entertaining enough for public eye, technique is no longer important.
There are a variety of reasons I no longer actively put myself into the dance industry. But for now, I’d rather dance for myself and still be able to love it – than fight to the death at auditions like it’s some sort of Gladiator scene and end up hating myself again.

‘Are you not entertained?!’

“No, honey, I’m not entertained because the girl next to you just folded herself up in a ball…backwards”

To conclude?

Don’t be the needy dog in a world of tricks
Stay tuned with YOUR emotions and stay true to YOUR own expression
Don’t feel pressured to have those over-stretched splits


Yeah, I think I’m done…


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