Is Your Choreography Pushing the Envelope?

by admin on August 29, 2014


Dancers, Teachers, Choreographers, People That Don’t Dance But Like to Read… it’s been a while!

I’m just over 7 months pregnant and it’s been ROUGH.  Each night after I get my two “oxygen breathing” children to bed – it’s all I can do to get my teeth brushed before fetus and I are in full snore-mode.  Blogging has had to take a back seat for a minute.  But lately I’ve realized… there is something I need to discuss.  Something I’m nervous to breach – it could stir up a little controversy or disagreement – but it’s something I am so passionate about, I am willing to risk stirring the pot in hopes that it causes even one person out there to think twice.

How much “sexy” is too much?

Yes, I am asking that question.  In 2014.

I travel the country attending, watching and judging dance competitions and I find it disconcerting how year-after-year it seems we are pushing the envelope further and further.  I see dancers – seemingly younger each year – KILLING choreography that I would hardly consider doing behind a closed bedroom door – and doing it with more confidence and “fierceness” than JLo.

–Pause– I recognize that by today’s standards I am not just “old-fashioned”… I am bordering prehistoric.  I am very religious (Christian) and was raised to believe in, and gained a strong testimony of, God and His beautiful creations.  One of (probably THE) most beautiful?  Us!  Our bodies, our spirits, our minds.  I was raised to stay modest in dress, I was a virgin until my wedding night, and I wasn’t allowed (nor inclined) to let anything harmful enter into my body or mind.  I have never consumed alcohol of any kind, never tried cigarettes or any drugs, don’t use curse words, and have actually never even seen a rated R movie (let alone pornography or anything of that sort.)  Though I’m certainly FAR from flawless, I have tried my best to honor and respect this beautiful creation of God’s – the great blessing of a living body, mind and spirit.

I recognize that I’m not necessarily the norm in this industry, and I certainly do not judge what others choose to do to their own bodies.  I understand that my choices aren’t necessarily “right” for everyone.  But, I will say one thing I hold to be universal in this crazy dance world – religious or not.  Pushing our young dancers to be comfortable with overtly sexual choreography will always lead to the disrespectfulness of the body and mind, particularly with our young female dancers.



I have many points for my readers to consider:

First: As innocent as we may feel it is – what is the real message we are sending to these kids?  The way I see it – we are inferring that for these dancers to show more skin, give more sexually suggestive movement and more – what some might call “fierceness” – is the way to get attention.  The more we use our bodies as bait, the more fish we can reel in.   As a woman, I find that both degrading and highly offensive – the idea that I must lower my neckline and “shake what my mama gave me” to be considered confident and fierce.  Now, I’m all for a little coy sass or even an aggressive, powerful female presence.  But when it comes to suggestive lyrics, “barely-there” costuming and **using our female “private parts” as the focus of our movement** – what is really happening?  We are cheapening the value and beauty of our dancers and their bodies!  We are asking them to put their virtue aside and allow an audience of people to watch them desecrate their priceless beauty on a stage!

Which leads me to my next point: Who is watching and how is this affecting them?  I won’t let my 7-year-old son come watch competition.  I know most everything he sees will be clean and beautiful… but what about that one piece that is sure to sneak in– the one with the dancers wearing glorified lingerie stage-grinding to Rihanna’s “Push Up On Me”?  And – after viewing 99 clean pieces and 1 overly sexy piece – which ONE will be burned into his memory? Each time I see a piece like this I can’t help but wonder- WHERE ARE THESE BEAUTIFUL LADIES’ FATHERS?!  And I know exactly where many of them are because I hear them cheering their daughter’s name as the exit the stage!!  I don’t know about you, but I find that pretty insane.  My husband has a pulmonary embolism if our daughter comes downstairs in a crop top – in the privacy of our own home.  I have a very difficult time believing these dads aren’t the slightest bit uncomfortable watching their daughters bump and grind on stage for all to see.  Not to mention any hormonal teenage brothers out there trying to be supportive siblings… don’t even get me started on those poor dudes! *I shouldn’t be turned on by my sister… I shouldn’t be turned on by my sister….* (Seriously, though.)

Consider this: according to Public Health Reports, over 77% of young people have had premarital sex by the time they turn 20.  That’s 8 out of 10 kids!  Compare this to even just 20 years ago at 35% – we have more than doubled that!  I don’t know about you, but I can’t help but assume that much of that increase is because we – society generalized – are fed more “sex” than we can possibly remain sensitive to.  Just last night my husband and I were watching a show on public prime-time television that had, in one hour’s time, not one – but two different accounts of premarital or extra-marital sex.  And it was glorified!  This is a scary trend!  By the time kids are young teens – even “tweens” – most will be able to sit through a PG13-rated sex scene without batting an eyelash.  It’s just everywhere.  As a mother… as a WOMAN – this terrifies me.  Long gone are the days where virtue was glorified in the media.

And speaking of the media – what is the difference between all the ads (photoshopped of course) that are selling sex and teaching young girls that they need to look a certain way to be loved, and teaching a dancer that she has to show off all but inches of her body and move in a sexually suggestive way to gain attention?

As dance and media have become inseparably intertwined, our tendency towards the “sex sells” mentality has seemed to increase in like form.  Why?!  Why must we take two of the most beautiful, artistic, incredible creations – the human form and the art of dance – and cheapen them like that?  Why must we set choreography on young dancers that teaches them to use their bodies in ways that can only imply immorality? And why are we – as parents, studio owners, teachers, choreographers, DANCERS – allowing this? Are we rationalizing that this is just the way the world is now?

Well, not for me.

Not my choreography.

Not my dancers.10245504_686230408104459_431583769149905061_n

I hope, if nothing else, I can help teach dancers to respect their beautiful bodies.  To help them understand ways to use their bodies to create meaningful, beautiful, exciting, powerful, amazing art.  To inspire them to know the truth about the power of their femininity and use it in a meaningful and positive way.  To give them the tools to feel confident in their bodies without feeling comfortable selling them.  Even to help them feel “fierce” in a totally sex-free way.  I pray that they will see they are worth so much more than that, and I hope I can be some small part of that realization.

Dance on,


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