Professional communities even if they are large, they can seem small. Dance communities are not exceptional. Everyone seems to know everyone or at least know someone through someone else. This can make information sharing a vulnerability and liability. Why? You never know how something you said might get to someone with whom you do not want to that information to be shared.
In small communities, it is easy for word to travel all too quickly. I have heard things about myself that had no foundational fact to it. Most of the time I try not to act even remotely moved by the inaccuracy. Most of the time, I am actually quite annoyed on the inside. Those who know me can tell when the annoyance is happening, but to the untrained eye, it goes unnoticed. This is part of developing a hide thick enough to withstand non-sense.
So why do we talk in small communities when we think no one else might hear? Is it a fact finding mission? Maybe. Is it a way to gain understanding about someone? Maybe. Is it a way try to find out more about someone who is our idol? Maybe. I had a room mate at one point who seemed to know the dish on everybody in the community. She was barely even part of the community, but someone who idolized those in it. If you didn’t know something about dance that she knew, she would look at you like you were an idiot even though she had no ability to do what she might be talking about. It was endlessly entertaining to watch her slight those around her to feed her own ego.
I think the main reason we talk is to justify opinions and try to find supporting data for it. For example, I get this weird vibe when I have to work with this person. Have you heard anything weird about him? If we find supporting information, then we don’t feel bad about not liking someone. Sometimes this is a means of survival in an often cut-throat community. Is it right? Maybe not. It is always better to ask people directly when there is an issue – in all aspects of our lives.
I admit that I have slipped and found myself discussing things without the thing I am discussing being present. I think we all do. For the most part, people know where I stand as I typically have little filter for my opinions – they just seep out of my mouth without warning. This makes it so that I am easy to deal with as you are rarely going to wonder where I stand on an issue or with someone. This makes it not so easy for me sometimes though as I am terrible at political maneuvering as I have no poker face. My face tells the truth just as my mouth does. I think we should try for a week to not gossip. For a week, try to speak directly to those we have concern or wonder about. Let this go beyond your dance dealings and see if the truth sets you free. Fly away now 🙂