Hola! I’m back from a wonderful trip that I took to Washington DC concerning DA:NCE (and then on to Cuba and Birmingham Alabama-look at the pictures below where I went to see the Cuban Ballet and later observed a ballet class that my grand daughter was in). On March 20, 2017, I attended a meeting at the Capitol Building Auditorium called ‘The Freedom from Sexploitation Agenda.’ There, speakers defined the public health issue of sexual exploitation that has changed the cultural landscape. I also attended meetings with Arina Grossu Director, Center for Human Dignity of the Family Research Council, Concerned Women for America with intern Chaney Mullins, Melissa Henson Program Director of Parents TV Council, President Patrick Trueman and and Executive Director Dawn Hawkins of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation. These meetings encouraged me in many ways; our discussions will affect my future efforts in DA:NCE. I’ve also written a number of articles about age-inappropriate dance for children that are being published this year. The latest one will be released for Movieguide. It is titled ‘Dance: Artistic or Sexualized’. I’ll let you know when it is released.
Pictures: On the left, Mary and Executive Director Dawn Hawkins of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation. Center: Program Director Melissa Henson of Parents TV Council and Mary. On the right: Washington DC
But right now, let’s review two of the researched facts that will underscore why I feel it is necessary to continue to gather adults together to protect children from sexual exploitation in dance as well as to preserve the artistic art of movement with integrity.
• Prolonged and increased exposure to sexually explicit materials(that children perform or see) “can lead to exaggerated beliefs of sexual activity among peers, sexually permissible attitudes, and sexual callousness, including more negative attitudes toward sexual partners.” 1
• Recent research suggests that male youth who use(or see) sexually explicit material may develop unrealistic sexual values and beliefs and demonstrate sexual preoccupation. Female youth reported feeling physically inferior. 2
Of course, even though I feel called to speak out about certain negative trends in dance, I’m also an advocate for dance on the positive side. I want everyone to take dance classes, to see dance concerts and to watch the artistic value in dance because I think that it’s a powerful communicator. What makes the difference between the two? Motivation accompanied by outcome. For example, I enjoy music but not all music is worth listening to. I enjoy eating but not everything is good for my health. That applies to TV, movies and books and most other life issues. It’s all about choices. And ethical decisions. So let’s celebrate good choices. Just yesterday, my church worshipped together at Easter with a wonderful display of dance that included faith in a song called ‘The Lion and the Lamb.’ Check it out! Now look below and imagine the delight inside my heart when I was able to visit Cuba (after my trip to Washington) and see the Cuban Ballet on a tour that my son led! At the ballet, they wouldn’t allow me to take personal pictures. However, as you might imagine, the dance was inspiring. Then I had the thrill of watching my grand daughters take a ballet class in Birmingham Alabama when I returned to the US. See the picture of ballet class with a little dancer who has a bun with hair clips-my grand daughter! Now take a look of a picture from ‘Lion and the Lamb’ on Easter Sunday.
When you see movement that realizes its potential to invite on-lookers to enjoy the beauty of the body alongside a healthy message that captures the heart, it’s a wonderful thing to view. However, when you see distorted dance that sexualizes children inappropriately, personal and cultural damage occurs. Won’t you join me in DA:NCE and come alongside my efforts to protect children so that we allow healthy dance experiences that facilitate our ability to celebrate the power and wonder of dance?
Email me and share your thoughts.
1 Braun-Courville, D. K. and Rojas, M., (2009). Exposure to sexually explicit web sites and adolescent sexual attitudes and behaviors. Journal of Adolescent Health, 45(2), 156-162. (p. 157)
2 Owens, E.W., Behun. R.J., Manning, J.C., & Reid, R.C. (2012). The impact of internet pornography on adolescents: Areview of the research. Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity, 19,99-122.