Opinion: So You Think You Can Dance


I am a dancer.

My heart beats on an eight count, without trying I walk with my feet turned out and when I’m happy I do entrechat cinq (a somewhat impressive jump).

From the age of 6, I was trained with a Vagonava style of teaching, which enabled me to later learn both Balanchine and American Ballet Theater Technique as well as advancing to pointe work.

I then proceeded to become proficient in the dance styles of Modern, both Horton and Grahm technique, tap, jazz and character. I have also studied the dance styles of West African, contemporary, musical theater, and hip hop.

Dance is hard. I’ve put fair amounts of literal blood, sweat and tears to get where I am today as a dancer, but there is beauty in the struggle.

Dance is what gives me the most joy and satisfaction. It is my passion.

This is why I become offended when people compare what I do to that of “Dance Moms” or any competitive dance.

There is a stark difference.

I personally feel competition dance and other dance variations within that group lack the technical skill imperative to be called “dance.”

In competitive dance, you will find dancers, half dressed, ridiculous makeup on and whacking their legs into the air with sickled and turned in feet.

Dance is much too precious to be met with such mediocracy.

Technique is the most essential aspect of dance, and dancers can never sacrifice it for anything. I am certain most dance teachers would agree.

As on many occasions, I have heard numerous different teachers say they would prefer dancers to do a clean single pirouette rather than a messy triple or a turned out leg at 45 degrees than one at 180 and turned in.

Technique is crucial.

You will never find this competition style of technique at any professional dance company unless it is specifically choreographed in that way which is far and in between such as Rite of Spring.

Using this competition technique regularly is also damaging for young bodies.

Dance, in general, is not easy on the body. A study published in the “Journal of Dance Medicine and Science”, shows there is a prevalence in musculoskeletal injuries and disorders in the retired ballet community.

According to an article published in “The Journal of Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy,”  dancers are also reported to have more lumbar spine problems than that of a non-dancer; without proper alignment, dancers are even more subject to these problems and injuries.

Using this poor technique is it favorable to the dancer nor the dancers overall aesthetic.

I love watching Mikhail Baryshnikov dance; the man is transcendent. Even when he’s just practicing jumps or turns.

While Baryshnikov can do more than 11 pirouettes, that is not what has me in awe. It is that he is able to do it near I say perfection.

His preparation for the turn does not overturn. He takes off for the turn or turns and never once do you see a turned in or sickled foot.

Then, he finishes the turn, but he doesn’t finish. He Finishes. It’s gorgeous. Astounding.

It is not as impressive when a dancer does 55 pirouettes on a bent knee and with tap shoes on. Sorry, Sophia Lucia.

Dancers prepared with this competition technique will not have the opportunity to further in their dance career by joining a company. If they make it into a company, it is not likely for them to become a soloist or a principle.

Consequently, dancers at competition studios are ill-equipped for the small and one could argue “competitive” dance community.

Dance is not a hobby for me. It isn’t enough to love dance; you have to live it too. I breathe, sleep and eat dance every day.

It is my life.