My dance journey started at the early age of three at a parks and recreation mommy & me ballet class. It was affordable and I loved it! I continued to take tap and ballet classes there until I was 5 years old.
At eleven years old I was inspired to dance again when I competed in a National American Miss pageant. I never imagined then how dance would have such a powerful impact on my life. After seven years of training in dance studios, performing on dance teams, attending dance conventions and dance camps, I have seen first hand what these “dance studios” offer to children. How they sugar coat dance styles, music and methods of teaching to fit into hypersexual, inappropriate dance.
When I was eleven years old, I attended a dance studio to learn skills and perform. I first attended a dance studio that focused on cheer competitions and put dance on the back burner. My parents and I decided to take me out after just one week.
After that, when searching online, my mom and I found a studio that stated, “We offer worship dancing and our music is appropriate for kids.” I wanted to try out one class and when I did we found out they only offered worship dancing at their church, not the studio.
At this studio, the dance director/owner was very uptight and rude. Her daughter was a dance teacher attending college and most of the dance teachers were attending the same college.
One of them taught us a jazz dance for my 1st year recital. She used influence from her college dance classes to make hyper sexualized choreography. That was my first jazz dance I ever performed. I thought It was just a sassy jazz dance at the time.
Months later I auditioned for their dance company and made it. During company warmups the studio owner’s daughter would play inappropriate music with sexual innuendos that we had to dance to.
Later that year, a guest choreographer came from Hollywood to teach us a jazz funk dance. The choreography was over the top sexual.
A few months later after leaving that studio, I auditioned for a high school dance company as an incoming freshman. I was a homeschooler, but I wanted to try out public school. I made the company, stayed in school for two weeks and quickly unenrolled. I went right back to homeschool, but decided to stay in the dance company classes.
The dance coach only choreographed one or two dances and the rest was done by students. We performed a hyper-sexual dance choreographed by one of them at a school assembly. Every dance that was choreographed had some sort of sexual agenda or movement behind it even if it was a hip hop or lyrical style.
During that year I was also attending a ballet academy. The teacher was verbally abusive and physically abusive with the dancers. Some were younger than me. She yelled at us, slapped our legs and slapped the dancers stomachs to correct them. I remember I’d get so nervous before each class and I didn’t want to attend a studio with toxic, abusive teachers.
Years later after graduating, I decided to attend a Christian university although I never planned for that. I made the dance team and met the dance coach. Everything seemed exciting but after we started dance practice, we were taught sexual choreography in a dance camp by a student from another Christian university. I already knew I didn’t feel right doing certain moves but I thought “well It’s a different style from what I’m used to and the dance coach doesn’t seem to have a problem.”
Then the coach started acting creepy and passive aggressive towards me. I couldn’t trust her. The week I started school I came back home for the weekend and unexpectedly got sick with Covid. I was out of school for a week. I decided not to go back at all. I wasn’t going to stay in a verbally and emotionally & mentally abusive environment with sexualized dance thrown in.
My experiences were just learning curves for me to see what I don’t want dance to be. And what my expectations should be when it comes to healthy beautiful dance! As a believer in Jesus and an advocate for age-appropriate dance for children and adults. My heart goes out to those who were hurt like me and who are currently in similar situations. I know now there is a better and beautiful way of expressing ourselves through dance, without hyper sexualization. My love for dance is why I write this. Dance has a deeper meaning than the costumes, music or choreography. Dancing from the heart is the most powerful. and even after all this, I choose to keep on dancing!
Bio: Hadara Valenzuela is a high school graduate who was homeschooled her entire educational life. She currently has her own business career as a Mary Kay beauty consultant and lives in Arizona. You can follow her on instagram @hadaravalenzuela and on Facebook @HadaraValenzuela