Sunday, July 03, 2005


Speaking of inappropriate attention to children (yes, that's a euphemism to avoid weird web searches)... Oddly enough, this was actually the second time this weekend I've had to think about that subject.

The first was Friday night, at a community dance recital. I went in support of my sister, who taught one class at this particular studio. She'd already warned me about the kind of choreography taught by the other teachers. And she was right. Turned out "tap" and "jazz" were euphemisms for "Saloon dancing 101" and "Pole Dancing for Minors."

I truly do believe in freedom of expression, but it is not free expression when an adult chooses dance moves and costumes for children to perform in front of an adult audience. The girls obviously worked hard and enjoyed performing. But they did not do it without external pressure from both adult role models and their peers -- pressure to commit to the group, to follow the teacher's instructions, to smile big and stay in line. Nor were they free from internal pressure to conform, to stay safe from ridicule, to adapt to the values of their social group, to please those who held power over them.

Only a very secure, supported 13-year-old girl values both her body and her independent mind enough to be able to say to an adult she respects, even admires, "No, I won't do that move. It's too sexual, and it makes me feel uncomfortable. I don't want to dance like a stripper. I'm only 13."

My sister could have said that. Fortunately she didn't have to. Instead, she listened to the girls in her class share their nightmares about failure, powerlessness and pain. And then she helped them turn it into an empowering performance about learning from your dreams and choosing to take control of your life.

I am so proud of her.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm sure proud of all my girls! Nice job Amanda. love, mom

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