Kristin Kusanovich

“If dance wants to be shown (and to earn) equal respect, status, focus and funding with all of the other arts, we should take a look at how far off the track we are.”(source) Kristin Kusanovich, Senior Lecturer, Santa Clara University, Artistic Director, k2dance, San Jose, Past President CDEA, California Dance Education Association

November 2021. It’s a time to reflect and think about what’s important. As a dance educator and founder of dance awareness: no child exploited, I want to remind you of our very important mission. DA:NCE exists to stop the hypersexualization of children in dance using adult costumes, choreography & music.

Why is this issue important? Well, friends, I can give you data and research.  I can tell you that it’s critical because children are not mini-adults and they should not be exposed to adult sexual materials. I can tell you that there is a clear list of harmful outcomes from the American Psychological Association with research shows that hypersexualized dance grooms children for future abuse. And I can tell you that ‘big business’ is making money by using children as a means to an end. Researcher Phillip Adams calls it ‘Corporate Paedophilia.’

“Corporate paedophilia is a metaphor which describes the selling of products to children before they are able to understand advertising and thus before they are able to consent to the process of corporate-led consumption. The metaphor draws a parallel between actual paedophilia, the use of children for the sexual pleasure of adults, and corporate use of children for the financial benefit of adults who own and manage corporations.”

But wait. Nothing transforms the heart and the mind like real stories with real people. Jamie was groomed for future dance abuse by cultural exposure to a pornified media. Read part of her personal story:

“Growing up, I was influenced by teen pop icons, sexualized hip hop music, raunchy comedy movies, and the Playboy magazines I stumbled on at home. THESE made it easy to accept and normalize things that were not normal.

At age 21, I trained with a choreographer who created beautiful, healthy, thought-provoking dances, but her jazz style was burlesque, so I learned how to be seductive and erotic.

In one performance, I danced with two other girls to “it’s a man’s world,” wearing very little, and using folding chairs as props. It was PRACTICALLY a strip tease and my PARENTS were in the audience, but SOMEHOW that didn’t bother me?! I had been groomed so much, that I did not recognize this as inappropriate, exploitive, and harmful.

At that time, I embraced more of my sexual persona. I began consuming pornography and, simultaneously, suffering from severe chronic anxiety, physical attention seeking, body dysmorphia, disordered eating, and a fixation on wanting to alter my body.

At age 23, I started teaching Burlesque Tease at a pole dancing studio and worked as a go-go dancer at a club. I enjoyed wearing skimpy outfits and tantalizing a crowd. I loved to dance, and to me, this was a perfectly viable way to earn money. I felt empowered…like a celebrity.

… But every night as a go-go dancer, I stepped off that box and was either (1) being followed, grabbed, and offered money to go somewhere else, or (2) being completely ignored.

In both scenarios, I was no longer human.

It was not until this year, that I discovered that THAT was commercial sex work.

I was a pornographic visual stimulus. An object for arousal and consumption.

Thankfully, at age 25, I stepped out of that world. And luckily for me, my exposure to pornography and sexualized dance only took up my early 20’s, BUT it STILL groomed me to become an object……….”

Unhealthy grooming and hypersexualized internet exposure coupled with a tsunami of pornography platforms have saturated our culture with dehumanizing messages. We live in a culture that allows predatory media and adults to make money and use children sexually in children’s dance. Instead, we need to protect their innocence and healthy development.

It’s important to find the voice to speak out so that we expose an unaware & uneducated culture to understand harmful dance. If you’re not sure what I mean, listen to the talk I gave last summer at the NCOSE(National Center on Sexual Exploitation) titled ‘Healthy or Harmful: What Do the Experts Say?

Friends, DA:NCE needs your help with a donation. Go to danceawareness.com and help us reach the adults in your relational world.

When you donate to DA:NCE, you are giving to protect children from harmful dance and future harmful dance outcomes.

When you donate to DA:NCE, you are giving to allow adults to know the differences between healthy and harmful dance with informed choice.

When you donate to DA:NCE, you are giving so that we can communicate the connection between the public health issue of pornography and hypersexualized children’s dance.

When you donate to DA:NCE, you are giving so that we can create researched based resources to educate an uninformed culture about this issue.

Nobody else is doing this. Friends, we all know children, we all love children and we all need to protect children so……Join the movement.

Join healing.

Join hope.

Make an important donation that will make a difference for children in your town and all around the world.

“I teach undergraduates, some of whom do not realize they’ve absorbed many notions of self-objectification, of dance moves that speak of bedroom acts or sexual fetish for the benefit of a hidden group of onlookers. They are unaware that the moves they like to do are not necessarily sexy in a healthy, “owned” way, where human sexuality, spirituality, wit, play, and self-awareness mingle as in a great tango or salsa dance. They are crawling on the floor toward the audience with their tails up, pretending to claw the marley like a hungry kitten in a dance that they say is about social justice. And they just can’t see it, but they are stuck in a mindset and it is really difficult to advance as an artist when you cannot see the cliché you have become.”(source)

Kristin Kusanovich, Senior Lecturer, Santa Clara University, Artistic Director, k2dance, San Jose, Past President CDEA, California Dance Education Association