GMA, Lara, and Bullying behaviour

I feel the need to ask is anyone else finding that priorities seem to be taking a bit of an egotistical turn? (GMA, Lara Spencer et al)

I really hope that before a small number of people go chasing that valuable hashtag traffic and opportunities to self promote, they take the time to actually watch the TV segment! 🤔 maybe then their posts, reposts, retweet’s etc will be more empathetic towards Prince George and more importantly, focus on what they can personally do, no matter how small, to help change negative views that surprisingly still exist of boys doing ballet or bullying by adults towards children in general.

I love how the ballet community has united to call out the bad behaviour and has responded by celebrating boys dance in such a beautiful and up beat way. I’ve just currently watched the Live Dancing in New York. Way to Go!!

I love that the protests took a positive and celebratory standpoint rather than anger and what others have described as a “Witch-Hunt”.

I still think that even alongside this love and support, an organisation or individual people should have consequences as a deterrent to others to be more careful in future ie; a fine or a change of job role. This isn’t meant to come across as vindictive but part of learning is about consequences and responsibility. You never know the impact of one single comment. But I don’t feel a protest calling for an individual news reader to be fired would have had the same impact to be honest.  So good call whoever orchestrated this and well done to everyone who jumped on board. What the news company does to recover from public damage is a different story from here on.

From a personal perspective, I’m just glad that so many people have shared their views loud and clear that belittling, humiliating, and embarrassing young children by singling them out to mock them is regarded as bullying!!

I had a difference of opinion with a ballet teacher who belonged to a professional body who said “belittling is not bullying though is it?” That was about two weeks after apologising to me for “smacking my child harder than they intended” 🤫 there are still some people who only regard bullying as physical assaults unfortunately.

It’s not “the way the dance world is so get used to it!” Hurrah!! At long last! Some of the most respected, credible, dance professionals have called this behaviour out for what it is. Debbie Allen “more ballet less bullying”. Brian Friedman and Travis Wall also used the word bullying. Repeated again today very loudly through a megaphone in New York. Hopefully now there is no mistaking what “bullying” looks like and sounds like.

Bullying is mental abuse not just physical – I hope that some people might finally get that if they hear it from these big names in their industry. I hope that not only does it tackle and change perceptions outside of the dance community, it also trickles down to all different levels of dance teachers and choreographers and also to dance and non-dance parents and dancers. I sincerely hope the dance community rallies to change its own behaviour just as much as they are calling for Lara Spencer to change hers!

Let’s try to clean up bullying around ballet everywhere. Lead by example a bit more eh? If people in the dance community treat others with respect as dancers, teachers, parents then maybe we can influence others more.

I hope the RAD too do their bit with more educating and awareness of what boys ballet looks like for an average 6 year old doing 35 mins per week of pre-primary. I’m pretty sure it’s throwing feathers around and making a mess and then getting imaginary horses out of the stable to gallop around with (Beth Hodson does this with unicorns!). I also hope they take the opportunity to improve their own CPD, grievance and whistleblowing with regard to teachers so that we change this whole culture with regards to humiliating and belittling dancers. Their syllabus is great fun and healthy regardless of genders and I personally think we need to see more of this side of things alongside clamping down on unprofessional and mean behaviour.

Please let so many people take their lead from all the loving and supportive professional dancers out there. Many have shared their own stories of bullying via social media videos or posts. With their troubled journeys many have found a way to break the cycle of physical and mental abuse. Unfortunately there are still some out there who haven’t quite broken that cycle yet.

Stories such as Ballet Dad Blog come to mind alongside other stories and experiences I have heard from so many dance parents. I’m not expecting anyone to comment publicly because I know that people cannot speak so openly (including me which is why I am being careful with my words. I am not targeting or referring to anyone specifically so please take this as a general aspiration for change).

Let’s not accept this bullying behaviour as “tough love” or “preparation for college” or “to prepare you for the industry” any more. Screaming at kids, hurting them, ridiculing them is bullying and we are not snowflakes by calling this behaviour out for what it is.

Maybe being more careful about TV shows we watch that shoot people to fame and glory for fighting with each other and generally being mean might be a good move too. Here’s a link to Camryn Bridges talking about her Dance Moms experience Amongst other things she reveals that she started to suffer with anxiety on the show, that she’s had therapy, and the Production company warned the mums they wouldn’t get a pay cheque if they didn’t fight.

Unfortunately too many people emulate these behaviours of people on these shows or of people in real life who have given them the view that they need to toughen up because this is what the dance community expects and it’s not going to change.

All this contributes to a culture change which isn’t for the best and I’m saying this as a mother of a daughter who had therapy paid for by Victim Support because of Dance Teachers.

And finally, another lesson from the GMA fiasco? When you’ve messed up. Own it and apologise as quickly as you can and as soon as you realise. Don’t bury your head in the sand because it’s unpleasant and you hope it will go away.  These children grow up and tell their own stories one day. Be sincere. Change your ways. People aren’t out to hate but they do feel strongly about wanting change and the longer people deny they’ve messed up, the bigger that cloud of disappointment and frustration gets.

I’ve just watched Lara’s apology on GMA youtube and I dont know about you but I’m just waiting to see if this is now a forgive-and-forget-and-move-on quickly-just-as-we-were scenario which, in my opinion, is something the dance community does too often with it’s two faced “everyone has to get along with each other regardless of their bullying” attitude or whether there really will be some changes in behaviour coming out of this.

I’ll leave it there. Let’s wait and see. After all we just want to see some changes.