Today I have to admit that I was called to the carpet by a reader, a young man who feels I’ve written about him, and rightly so. I didn’t name him, but I guess he felt “described” well enough for someone to notice. And he also pointed out that I had made a few judgements that might have been uncalled for and inappropriate.
Well…it’s my blog, after all. I can say what I want here, but, as a mom, I don’t want to hurt the feelings of any young male dancers. That, of course, is not my mission. My mission has been to address the issues faced by young male dancers and their parents.
I guess I’ve not really gotten it through my thick head that people are actually reading this blog! When I started, there were so few readers, and now I have a steady following. I now must be more conscious of the fact that when I write about people, they might actually show up here one day…or someone they know might do so. Which doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be honest, but I should be more considerate and conscious of the fact that my words have an affect.
So, I’ve gone back and altered the blog post in question- deleted a few lines that, I agree, were a bit out of line and possibly pointed a finger at him in ways he might not appreciate. I looked over a few others to be sure that I had eliminated any information that might point a finger at any young person in particular. I even changed a few things I said that I felt could be hurtful in some way.
And I offer here a public apology for any undue stress or upset I might have caused through my “unconscious” writing to this young man or to anyone else for that matter! All I really want to do is help and inform, and I didn’t do a good job of that with that post — or a few others. (I admit I was in a hurry and not really thinking through what I was writing. I’ll try not to let it happen again!)
That said, I would hasten to bet that Julian is more than a bit appalled a lot of the time about what I write about him here. I reveal way more than he would like, I”m sure, in a very public manner. So, if anyone should be upset, it’s probably him! (I’m actually quite concerned about the repercussions this will have on him…)
As for the second issue this young man raised, I’ll address it, although I did bring it up already once: doing choreography “exactly as taught” or “making it your own.” Maybe it’s appropriate to put this subject up for discussion once more, especially as Julian gets ready to go to The Pulse and as other boys (and girls) are frequenting the spring convention circuit. Plus, it’s always important as our boys audition for anything at all, convention scholarships or parts in productions.
My understanding is that there is an appropriate time to make choreography “your own.” If you are doing choreography as a group as, lets say, back up for a performing artist, you would all want to do the choreography in the same manner so the group has a uniform affect. This seems to be true for large hip hop groups, like the one I just profiled for Dance Spiritmagazine, Xtreme Dance Force in Naperville, IL.
However, in other pieces where there is room for a bit of individuality – that doesn’t take away from the overall picture (meaning one person’s interpretation of the choreography doesn’t draw your eye away from the other dancers in the ensemble making the piece not feel uniform) – it’s okay to take the choreography and “make it your own.” By this I mean, to make it fit your body and your movements and maybe to even interpret it a bit. I can see this in many modern pieces and tap pieces. For example, I see this at Teen Dance Company when the kids are given lots of different movements to do, each person’s part in the overall peice being fairly unique and different. I also see this in the pieces done by The North Carolina Tap Ensemble, which I also profiled for Dance Spirit, where each tapper does have a bit of a unique style of their own, but it doesn’t take away from the piece as a whole.
I have been told, however, that a dancer doesn’t want his or her moves to be too different from those of the other dancers doing identical, or even similar, choreography; his moves shouldn’t be a lot larger or smaller and they shouldn’t take her too far away or too close to the other dancers. It’s much easier for a dancer to make the moves his or her own when each dancer in a piece has been given a piece of choreography that is a bit different from everyone else’s. When everyone is being asked to do the same exact choreography, that is when it should be done in exactly the same fashion. That’s my understanding at least.
As I mentioned in a previous post, the kids at Teen Dance Company were specifically instructed prior to Nuvo convention notto make the choreography at conventions “their own” but to copy it exactly — meaning crisply, concisely, as taught, without any alterations or creative interpretation on their part. It seemed that students making the choreography their own – not dancing it exactly as taught but interpreting it and being creative with it – were the ones noticed at that particular convention. So, which is the correct tack to take in the convention situation? And which is the correct tack to take in other situations? Any experts care to comment?