Difficult Communities

“Why does the dance community have to be so dramatic and blow things out or proportion?” I am asked this at least monthly and I understand from where the question comes. Dance communities tend to attract egotistical people. I believe it is because it is a physical and esthetic sport that makes people concerned about how they appear to others. As such, they never want to be viewed negatively by others in the community. This leads to a defensive survival attitude which breeds drama in the community.

This person did this and offended that person and now they can’t even look at each other, for example. In the business world, it would take a brief, clarifying conversation to clear up this drama. Not to say that drama does not exist in the business world as well, but I have been in many different communities and never seen drama on the scale that is seen in the dance community. Because everyone is trying to keep up appearances, they tend to become defensive of themselves if their reputation could be mildly tarnished by someone else’s action.

This happens between sub-groups of the community as well – say, one dance genre where there are various schools serving that community. The schools tend to talk bad about each other pointing out that the other schools do not know what they are talking about. The other schools are not teaching an authentic version of that genre. The other teachers are not good enough to be teaching to anyone. Even dancers who have little experience spout this out about each other in the jostling for superiority within beginner groups. It becomes petty and childish. Many newcomers to dance communities say it is reminiscent of high school where there are the popular kids in the group into which everyone wants to break. It is true. The people playing this game are trying to make others looks bad in order to make themselves look better. To non-dancers, this just seems inane compared to real issues in the real world.

Yet, we tend to get wrapped up into the drama over and over again. It can be hard not to if too much time is spent in social situations with these people regardless of whether they are professional or amateur. When a reference to regular life is not intact, this behaviour can seem normal. This is why I try to keep at least one foot well grounded in the non-dance world so that I am not dragged into the drama too regularly. I really just want to dance. When I go to a social, I am there to get my dance on. Yes, I want to catch up with my friends. I want to catch up with their regular life, not their dance life. I don’t want to know who did what to whom unless it is something of profound nature that affects their overall life. Focusing on the minutia that will not have lasting remembrance in your life does not seem worth wasting the time talking about it. I have been guilty, of course, of doing this, but I try hard to catch myself. Life is too short to focus on the inconsequential drama of the dance community.

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