The Maturity Barrier

Recently I’ve been doing a lot of girly choreography in an effort to bring out the dormant sass in my students. The movement is a little risky at times and I push the boundaries of PG suggestive themes so I only teach it to my older students. About a week ago my younger girls pleaded that I teach them a Britney Spears routine that I had completed with my advanced class. Despite my better judgment, I let them learn it. Teaching them the routine has only solidified my reasoning to keep movement age specific. The younger girls approach the choreography in the same way they would avoid a boy with cooties. Reluctant to dance full-out due to their insecurities, the simple yet sultry moves allude them.
Many of these girls, along with many of their older counterparts, lack a certain maturity that comes with seasoned performing dancers. Its a maturity that not many dancers achieve and lies completely independent from technique and natural ability. This maturity is what keeps many young, technically appealing dancers who can turn, leap, and flip across the stage from becoming true professionals. Its a type of abandon that lets dancers fully engage a character focus in order to convince an audience of a certain amount of authenticity of movement.

In other words, its a way of saying that in an audience, you can tell who is an actual ballerina and who is faking it.

A couple of blogs ago I was writing about the horrors of dance competitions. If you haven’t seen what I am talking about then you need to watch at least 5 minutes of Paula Abdul’s new show called “Live to Dance.” Everything that the judges want on the show is exactly what makes dance competitions painful to watch elsewhere. They’re looking for cool tricks, high energy, and more cool tricks. Sometimes, its entertaining to watch. Most of the time people are too distracted to notice that they’re not watching dance; more like a creatively sequenced circus act. Good dancers sneak in with emotional content but the true artists are kept far from the finals. Case in point: 11 year old Kendall Glover.

An amazing tactician with technique and strength to boot. Does she choreograph her own routines? Who knows. But if you want to see if she has reached her dance maturity, watch the way she dances inbetween her cool tricks. Ask yourself if you think she looks comfortable doing the movement with that unchanging competition smile on her face or if she is just killing time before her next big turn combination.
The best choreographers in the world can make you look good on stage but a true dancer makes the movement genuine. Show me an 11 year old who is comfortable with movement that embodies love or grief and you’ll have a dancer who is mature and marketable as a professional. Its the reason that so many “great” dancers from studios never make it into the real world.

-“oh but she could do so many turns.”

-“wowsers, that boy could jump into any leap.”

It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t make you different. It’s a great foundation but its not what dance is really all about. If doing tricks could land you a dance job, there would be a lot more professional dancers out there. Its not that easy. You have to offer a little more. You have to be sincere in your movement or else no one will believe in what you do.

If anything- I believe in dance. And I believe in anyone’s potential to be a dancer in their own way. But the key to that maturity is believing in your own movement. Once you find that, you will find that “it” factor that everyone is always talking about. When that happens, then you’re dancing. Everything before that was just practice.