The other night I was browsing on social media (Facebook) and I stumbled upon a re-posted video of a small child dancing in a majorette competition. The person who re-posted it was outraged at the sexually suggestive dance steps and movements that the little girl was doing, as though she were a skilled veteran in the art of sexual seduction. At least that’s how she perceived the on-goings in the video. This of course started a little something something…. Many other people jumped aboard the bandwagon and many critiques started spewing from the fingertips of lots of people who apparently felt the same way she did. Everything imaginable was said about this poor child who was dancing her little heart out. So much so, that I felt the need to correct the perception
(The original video that I am referencing is not used in this post, as it was a personal post from someone I do not know. Since I didn't think it would be right to further use the child's' image in a negative light, and especially without permission, I opted for clips from nationally syndicated television shows. All clips are courtesy of Life Time Television Network.)
However, what was most daunting about the online discussion was the lack of respect the observers had for the art form she was displaying. They gave her gymnast skills little to no recognition, and in fact criticized her imperfect flips. She couldn’t have been any older than 6 or 7 years old, but that meant nothing. I guess to them, if she can do all of those other dance moves so expertly, then she should surely be able to hit her stunts with the same expertise. I get it, I really do!
Moreover, what was even MORE insulting were the comments that came forth about the child’s parents and their state of mind. Terms like “they” were used in reference to the kids’ parents, which could've easily been misconstrued as a stab at the child's origin of race. But I choose not to assume the worst. I'm going to go on good faith and draw the line there at my first conclusion.. One commenter said something along the lines of “She has so much potential and THEY wasted it on no class.” That really stung…and for several reasons. #1. None of them recognized it as an art form. #2. To sit there and watch this little girl do this synchronized routine, and not recognize the effort and association with a dance program, (much like a ballet program) really baffled me. Sadly, her talent was considered wasted, when this very same grooming will/can get her college scholarships. (Wow...what a waste of time!) #3. Not only did they find the girls talent to be wasted and useless, they also considered what she was doing to be classless. As if “no class” was associated with the programming of these extracurricular activities. As if these competitions lack the same organization and "class" that ballet competitions have. Idk...
Witnessing this discussion, charged me with the mission to look into what a dance recital or competition looked like in a predominantly White dance competition, so that I could see why this art form would strike them with so much disdain. Maybe the concepts of Art, Entertainment, and Showbiz with professionally dancing kids differs from race to race. I didn't know, but I was going to find out! So, I looked up video clips from ‘Dance Moms’, and was taken aback by the tiny dancing burlesque dolls, that were as young as 5/6 to 10-12 year olds. Seductively dancing to sensual music, in rhinestone covered bikinis, playing peekaboo with their would be breasts and the audience. To me, their WOW factor was huge, and just as suggestive as the majorettes.
In the end I can’t make anyone agree with me or completely change their minds, but I do hope that this comparison to the dance teams on ‘Dance Moms’ to the dance teams on ‘Bring It!’, changed their thought process.
Truth is, we are a racially charged and racially sensitive nation, and you never know what will be taken offensively or misconstrued. oftentimes inexperience in different cultural matter's causes us to look at certain things/actions thru jaded lenses. This is just one minor aspect of this continual misinterpretation involving lifestyles and practices of the varying races of the nation. Be that as it may, this is my attempt to amend at least one of them.
Because we CELEBRATE and UPLIFT cultural differences here at Life. Culture. People., I felt it would only be right if I corrected the perception of this art form in the lives of the people who commented on my friends post. My intelligence allowed me to KNOW that this was actually a reflection of people really not knowing what they were watching, and not a bunch of racist pricks. The original re-poster is sweet as pie and has a biracial family, so I knew without a shadow of a doubt, that she had no malicious intent. I'll go as far as to say the other commentators didn't either. They didn't know there was a history and sportsmanship to their art form just as there is to ballet. So, I spoke up and informed them. #WeSpeak!
To conclude this post, here is my original response to the posting on Facebook..
"It's a matter of culture and not knowing anything about what was actually taking place in that video. That was a solo in a majorette competition and the key really is to do stunts and be extra in every way. I'll admit that there were several parts that were trashy, that she shouldn't have been doing. Especially at her age. However, she is in a majorette competition, on a team, competing. They dance the way black college majorettes dance with the bands. This grooms them for that, which in turn gets them college scholarships. This art form is a mix of slightly seductive movement and gyrating (lol), gymnastics, and lots of other forms of dance. Their influences are from Africa, the islands, jazz dance, ballet and modern arts. The African American culture is built on expression through song and dance, and there's nothing subtle about it. Some choose ballet, others choose this. You'd have to see a more tasteful rendition of a competition to see where the skill actually comes in. Where the girls are sharper and groomed by the right choreographer. Check out Life Times show 'Bring It'. That's this art form in a much more skilled and tasteful way. All I'm saying is, it's not what you think. And give the young girl credit for all that she did do well, before that big crowd. She pulled a lot of stunts and held her own for 3 straight songs. The lil girl is actually quite talented. Yes, her techniques still need improvement bc she's young and still developing her craft. Hell she was off rhythm most of the time and two steps ahead the beat, but she's got raw talent. The Black culture is very rhythmic and soulful and our women and girls are made differently. Our movements, bodies, and attitudes come off very pronounced, and that's part of our beauty and individuality. I'm not one to condone or uphold foolery or perversion. But I do urge you to look at it from a different perspective.. #Life.Culture.People #ILoveCulture&AllOurDifferences!"
I hope everyone can walk away from this post having learned something and with new found perceptions and realities.
Love. Live. Life.
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