“My daughter wants to dance to that new song on the radio for her solo. What do you mean it’s not appropriate? I grew up listening to that stuff and I’m fine. Besides, she’s MY kid, and I say it’s okay.”
As a full-time dance instructor, I hear this way more often than people may think. Fellow teachers, directors, or studio owners might agree. They might also remember that time we took our bright-eyed junior company to their first convention and seeing those young dancer’s faces draw blank with confusion as they are being taught to move suggestively to highly inappropriate lyrical content. Before discovering YPAD, I had no idea what to make of it, how to react, or how to explain to the adult and/or the child what I truly felt; I even questioned my own gut feelings. Was I being too conservative or prude? Will I, or my students, be left behind in “the industry” if I’m not teaching these suggestive movements and using trendy songs even if the content was not in line with my teaching ideals?
After going through certification with YPAD, I finally felt as if I had a solid rock to anchor my gut feelings onto when it came to age-appropriate music & costume choices for my students. I became more confident when approaching studio parents/guardians and sometimes even fellow professionals regarding the information I felt called upon to share. I no longer felt that I had to engage in an ethics battle with others – I simply present the scientific, clinical, or research-based evidence as provided by a team of YPAD advisory panel experts, and let people make their own “informed” decision. I always share that YPAD is also a source of continuing education for keeping young dancers happy, healthy, and safe in so many different ways while exploring the art and discipline of dance.
YPAD helped me to realize just how much an adult, especially in an educational or leadership role in a child’s life, can affect the development and eventually their entire outlook on life. For me, going through certification was not about self-censorship; it was self-awareness and improvement. YPAD has reminded me to be the teacher I am with confidence, and that my confidence comes from the knowledge I’ve gained from the YPAD network. With each new piece of information I obtain from reliable sources, I feel more equipped and ready to keep our young dancers in a positive and safe environment, in and outside the studio. Information is valuable, especially those which we simply cannot ignore or unlearn; and for the greater good, such information must be passed on. This is why I am grateful to be a part of the YPAD movement to promote awareness and continuing education.