Sunday, August 19, 2012

Welcome, oh, welcome... my little blog
I've begun this whole thing to clear up some fog
About dancing and etiquette and unspoken rules
to those who violate them and act like big fools

Sometimes it's just me ranting and raving
Sometimes it's dance pros on how we're behaving
There are also events and articles too
To bring the dance info closer to you

Dance professionals, if you have something to say
Even if it's blunt, I'll quote you anyway
I love every subject, no topic's taboo
If you're a dance pro with an opinion, I'll interview you

I'm based in Atlanta, but don't ever fear
We can talk on the phone or whenever you're here
Dancers really need to know what you think
So their footwork and manners won't start to stink

Dancers, give comments, opinions, and thoughts
Get the dialogue going to work out those knots
Of feelings unexpressed and words left unsaid
So the morale of the dance scene won't end up dead

If there's something you want perspectives about
List it below or give me a shout
I'm available on twitter, Facebook, and also G+
Tracking me down is really no fuss

This is a project for us all to explore
Be patient, I've never done this before
I hope to expand this idea even more 
With all that said, see ya on the floor!

Written exclusively for Dance Infotainment and Dancing4Fun

Image stolen from Jimmy Rumba. I guess I'm never running for public office.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Etiquette Series: Nasty Comments about Performances

There is an unspoken problem in the dance world that really needs to be breached. Anyone who is a regular in the social dance scene knows that there are several performance teams out there that perform at dance socials, parties, congresses, etc. Sadly, anyone who is a regular in the dance scene also knows that there is an unfortunately large crop of haters out there that can't wait to insult said performance teams.

I've personally been on dance teams twice. Both times, I overheard nasty gossip about myself, heard nasty comments made about my team when the haters thought we were out of earshot, or worse, when we had changed clothes and they couldn't recognize us and went right on flappin' their jaws. I've also heard myriads of nasty comments made about other dance teams, particularly about the physical condition of some women on certain dance teams.

“I can't believe SHE is wearing THAT!”
“Couldn't they have found a costume to fit HER?”
“I sure as hell wouldn't wear THAT costume if I looked like HER!”
“OMG! What does SHE think she's doing on a performance team?”

We've probably all heard these or similar things said at least once, if not several times. A few of us may have said similar things a few times. Well, knock it off. If you've done it before, admit your mistake and vow not to do it again. Attitudes like that are toxic. You are polluting the dance scene with your discouraging attitude. You are stunting the growth of more dancers than you realize.

Just think, the very girl you were criticizing may have been really inspired another girl, perhaps one who is built similarly, but is afraid to join a dance team. She saw the same girl you did, but she saw the positive, she saw her own potential mirrored in that girl.

Then she overhears your nasty comment about the girl she thought was inspiring. In a second, you've dashed her confidence to the floor. So, she stays home, doesn't join a dance team even though she really wants to, and doesn't grow as a dancer. Ask me how I know that can happen. Go ahead, ask me. I dare you.

With that said, do you see how damaging your negativity is? If you REALLY can't say something nice SHUT UP, at least wait til you're at home with someone who isn't in the dance scene at all because you also never know how loose somebody's lips are. Not to mention, when people hear you say things like that, they never quite look at you the same way again.

So, actually, it's preferable for you to just shut up.

“A friend told me about a girl who made a rude comment about our dance team,” says Tess Khan, a performer with Stiletto Dance Company, “The next day, she ran up to me smiling and hugged me, not knowing that I knew she had laughed at our routine, and she never even acknowledged anything about the performance, good or bad.”

How unfortunate! Even if a dance team completely bombs, the people on it are still worthy of some recognition for bravery and hard work. Perhaps people watch “Dancing with the Stars” or “So You Think You Can Dance” and think that it's normal to learn a whole routine in a day or a week and if somebody can't do it, there's something wrong with her. Perhaps people think that only a few body types are “allowed” to dance (or even allowed out of the house). Perhaps they don't know the difficult, painstaking, emotional work it takes to perform a dance number, particularly if you're a beginner or if you're trying to downsize your shyness.

Another dancer for Stiletto Dance Company, Kimberly "BachataGata" concurs, “If someone is brave enough to perform for any sized crowd, in my eyes, that person is a fabulous dancer. It takes months of physical and mental preparation and commitment to put together a routine. There is always growth occurring, which is an intense process at any level.”

Provided some dance teams or some individual dancers totally mess up a performance. It's an inevitability, but it's also a part of the growth process and the positive should be nurtured, rather than the negative being emphasized.

Kimberly continues, “I have deep respect for anyone who gets on stage to share their personal growth. They deserve our most exuberant applause."

Of course, some people will be apologists for the poisonous behavior, saying, “Well, it's up to you to have confidence in yourself and to not let those comments get you down. The people who say that just have issues themselves so you can't take it personally.”

…but it is personal and it is hurtful. The “be confident in yourself” attitude does have some truth to it, but it can breed a toxicity of its own. Yes, you should join a dance team for YOU and not so you can earn praise from others. Yes, you should continue dancing if YOU enjoy it and it makes YOU grow. Nonetheless, nonconstructive, cruel criticism is an unpleasant, difficult thing to have to deal with and telling people they need to “be confident” is, frankly, insulting. It asserts that they're to blame for having bruises where their hearts were kicked. It asserts that they're weak and just don't know how to handle their emotions. It asserts that their emotions are wrong and that they aren't allowed to have them. Worst of all, it lets the jerkwads get off scot-free!

Don't make nasty comments and don't excuse nasty comments. Next time you hear someone saying something negative about ANY dance team (because you WILL hear it), correct them. Stand up for those that are brave enough to put themselves out there to be judged, scrutinized and possibly ridiculed. Let people know that their venomous attitudes are not welcome in the dance world. Most importantly, always congratulate the performers if you have the chance, even if they messed up, even if they don't look great in their costumes, even if you didn't like the choreography. You are nurturing their confidence and growth and they will thank you for it.

If you happen to be one of the people who criticizes dance teams, I have two words for you: Join one.

Image stolen from who likely stole it from someone else.