5 Reasons Why I Want to Break Up with 'Dance' on the Internet
What started out as excitement, then became curiosity, which became frustration, which then became an "I'm over it." And now, I'm just plain old bummed.
I've been scouring the internet looking for content to curate for #WorkingDancers. I wanted to add to the list of awesome resources we already have going. So I've spent the past week or so in deep cover. I've been masquerading around online as an aspiring dancer in search of information to teach me the ins and outs of becoming a professional commercial dancer.
I wanted more than just audition tips, which can be found almost anywhere. I wanted first hand information from #WorkingDancers. I wanted articles on what it takes to get started or to keep a career going. I was looking for behind the scenes photos or insight. Basically, anything that hinted at what it means or looks like to be a professional dancer for commercial projects, kinda like the career tips from industry choreographer Chuck Maldonado that I posted earlier this week.
And do you know what I found? I'm sure you can tell by my tone that it wasn't good.
I found crumbs...almost zilch, zero, nada. What I found was a WHOLE lotta dance stuff unrelated to us commercial folks. I've sifted through tons of content that will do absolutely nothing for a professional commercial dancer's career. And you know what? I've had enough.
I'm done. Out. Chunkin' the deuces. Laters baby. --> Yep. All of that and some.
And here's what's got me all wound up. Most of the content I found falls under 5 categories. In my opinion, they make for 5 very strong arguments as to why 'dance' and I should end our internet romance.
1. Searching 'dance' on Pinterest gives you all this content about increasing your flexibility for dance tricks.
I so wish you could see my face. Where's an emoji when you need one?! Not trying to date myself, but my hips and back are in no way interested in doing any of that. They lost interest years ago. So I don't want to see a zillion split or tilt pics. Those posts are geared towards young studio dancers, which I'm clearly not.
Don't get me wrong. If there's that much content about it, then there must be a demand for it. What I have a problem with is the fact that my demographic, adult + professional + freelance + dancers, aren't represented in those search results.
2. Searching 'how to become a professional dancer' on google brings up a bunch of random posts that, again, don't have much to do with professional commercial dance.
From that search, I found generic posts from sites like Learn.com or About.com, which probably weren't written by dance professionals. I found depressing salary info from a couple of different sources. And once I clicked past the first page, I started to see links from college dance programs or professional contemporary/modern/ballet companies.
To be honest, there's nothing really wrong with the last part. Info about college dance programs or professional companies is at least a step in the right direction, but it still doesn't represent folks like me, and possibly you, if you're still reading. Which brings me to my next category.
3. Searching 'professional dance' on Pinterest shows a bunch of content almost solely related to becoming a ballerina.
Again, if looks could kill.
I fully understand that ballet is the oldest codified dance form. I respect it, and I acknowledge its influence on all dance in general. And I'm also mature enough to confess that the time I spent consistently taking ballet classes greatly enhanced my performance in other genres.
There. So now that I've gotten that out of the way, can I just say...WTH?!
You mean to tell me the ONLY professional dancers are ballerinas? Oh, pardon me. I also saw a few ballroom dancer posts sprinkled in there. Then let me rephrase the question. You mean to tell me the ONLY professional dancers are ballroom dancers and ballerinas?
SO not fair, right? Apparently, the rest of us don't exist. Not back up dancers, not musical theater performers, not Vegas showgirls or Cirque de Soleil dancers, and not jazz or hip-hop company members. None of us seem to matter. That may not be what the internet is trying to say to me, but that's exactly what I'm hearing.
4. 'Dance Moms' have taken over the dance internet.
I can't tell you how many times during my search I found content either about the show 'Dance Moms' or content written or geared towards actual dance moms. I mean, they're everywhere. I understand the appeal of the show as well as the pure intentions of a real dance mom.
I get it. My very own mother was a dance mom. Not in the way they're portrayed on the show, but she was, and kinda still is a dance mom. (Shout out to mom dukes.)
While I understand what's happening, I still have a bit of a problem with it. I take pride in what I do. My artistry matters, and I put forth an extreme amount of effort to put forth my work in a spirit of excellence. With that, I believe that people should have access to accurate information about my craft.
5. Searching 'dance business' on Google brings up a bunch of info about starting or owning a dance studio.
I don't want to beat a dead horse here, and I'm sure you already know where I'm going. There's nothing wrong with owning a studio. I got some of my best childhood training from a studio setting. There is a need for quality dance studios. But...is that all there is to being in business as a dancer?
You and I both know that's not true. Dance studios and companies may be the first business that comes to mind when speaking of dance, but they are not the only types of dance businesses that exist.
So it got me thinking. Should I make an emotional decision and end things with 'dance' on the internet altogether, or should we do a bit of couples counseling?
Since I want to deliver the best content I can to #WorkingDancers everywhere, I chose to stick it out. What I realized is that it's not the internet's fault that the search results are what they are. It's not the tiny, over stretched dancers' fault. Not the ballerina's fault. Not even the dance moms' fault.
Who's fault is it that I can't seem to find a good amount of content on our sector of the dance world? Part of the blame could be placed on me. Maybe if I had searched longer or searched through ALL the pages on Google, then I might have found more of what I was looking for.
Maybe it's time we took a good look in the mirror. It's really our own fault that the general public hasn't cracked the code on the life of a professional commercial dancer. Heck, we've barely cracked the code ourselves. But the reason everyone knows about Dance Moms and ballerinas and modern dance companies and owning a dance studio is because there are people out there speaking and writing about those areas of dance.
Maybe if there were more of us professional commercial dancers posting articles, insight, pics, and more, then we could be on the map. What if we didn't just post our projects and class videos on social media, but we also gave written or recorded advice for the dancers who will come after us?
I don't think it's enough for us to just do great work or just teach people how to dance. Don't you think as commercial dance artists, that we should also being doing something to solidify our legacy in dance for generations to come? Like help raise the standard of pay for dancers by knowing our worth. Or instead of seeing other dancers as competition, maybe help them figure things out in the game too. Or start publishing content that will give larger audiences a glimpse into our world. Or help fellow dancers to start treating their craft like the business it is.
Well? No more questions or break up threats from me. I've decided to be the change I want to see.
I am committed to speaking and writing about aspects of our professional lives that will elevate us all. I am committed to teaching more than just movement. I will teach all that I know about becoming a professional commercial dancer to whoever wants to learn. And I will empower dancers to know their worth and to create the careers of their dreams.
Welcome to the new and improved TheWorkingDancer.com. I am re-dedicating this site to you, the #WorkingDancers.
Here's to taking our careers by the reigns, to announcing our presence and greatness to the world, and to dancing circles around anything or anyone who tries to get in our way.
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