Talking Dance: Compare and Despair | How Social Media Affects a Dancer’s Mental Health

Talking Dance: Compare and Despair | How Social Media Affects a Dancer’s Mental Health


Welcome to Talking Dance. Today is a very important topic. I’ve named it Compare and Despair because in my opinion with the social media out there, that’s so prevalent in today’s dancer’s world that it can have a very positive effect yet extremely negative. Now, our panel today, I’m very privileged to have the esteemed Will Centurion and Adene Cassidy with us today. You know, I’ve been in dance education now for over 40 years and the changes in the last 10 years has got to have such an effect on understanding from the teacher’s point of view, the parents and the children coping with it. There’s no use just concentrating on technique, technique, technique without the holistic dancer. Understanding the mind and body go together, you know, they’re not going to excel and have a career or even enjoy this wonderful art without having a healthy mind and body. I think the world’s changing at such a rapid pace and technology has become such a big part of it that we just almost have to become aware of what that means and shift our mindset to be able to cope with that. And that’s the direction that we’re headed in. Technology’s a massive domain and plays a great part in both inspiring but can also, you know be detrimental at times. Would you think that social media and technology has been one of the most significant changes you’ve seen in the industry? Absolutely! absolutely and it can be a wonderful way and now, you know, if I’m teaching a repertoire piece for a student. It’s very easy for me to say “Okay, I want you now to go and study this by this ballerina” and they can look on YouTube. Whereas, in my day, there was none of that. So this is the positive of it but the negative, is they can do their own searches and they can see pictures that are photoshopped and try and emulate. They’re not gymnasts their artistic athletes and that can affect the body, of course and some of this is career-ending. I mean, the rest that is out there that’s comparing an artificial which I think is leading to some body image messages and them trying to emulate the wrong, the wrong thing and it can be soul destroying and that’s the compare and despair message. The other thing that I see that really does concern me is the amount of social media that parents are putting up with children in skimpy costumes and you know leg mounts towards the camera and I just worry these are real children. Sitting down with your child if they’re just loading onto Instagram for the first time or setting up an account on Facebook or whatever social media it is and helping them understand that Instagram is not real. It’s a really small snapshot of that person’s life and they’re not going to upload, the leg mount where they have fallen over. So, it’s actually about giving them the tools and screen time probably to me is the most It’s free, it’s easy to use and it actually helps a 12 or 13 year old navigate that world themselves. The motion of Instagram for example is like a poke. So your your finger is scrolling and every time you get a notification there’s that ping the goes off that makes you feel loved and that if you don’t break that cycle, it gets worse and I’ve seen it for myself when the screen time app is not applied that need to check social media or get a notification is is really strong and it’s much harder to control We think that but it’s actually not. because the minute you put the screen time app on and you take away that constant motion. You will see a change in your child. The other thing I always say as well, which I think is a really good piece of advice for anyone on Instagram is does your post tell a story? or is it a vacuous post which is a selfie and I know we’re in a selfie era. but does your selfie even tell a story? and is it a story that you want to look at in 10 years time or you want your Headmaster to see or your ballet teacher or your future ballet company to see. Are you happy with the post? And if you actually take the time to stop and think about what your posting, and if there is a message or a story? Probably you’re not going to post half of what you normally do and I think that’s a really good way to self-regulate like what you were talking about before. It’s tapping in to the why Yeah, that’s right. You’re tapping into why am I doing this? Like what am I trying to fulfil here? What is the underlying need for me to put this shot on a public forum and have people respond to it. Like what am I trying to gain from that? Absolutely!
Yeah, It’s the Why. and then of course, there’s the issue of the predators out there that prey on these young children. One hundred percent! And I think the internet has made that really easy for them and that’s a scary thing and I also think you shouldn’t be afraid to have that chat with your child either In the same way that you say, don’t jump into a car with somebody because of this you have to have that same conversation. It’s great that you sort of put it that way. I always think, parents, put the oxygen mask on you first before you put it on your child. Bring some self-awareness to you and to your methods Check in with your anxiety, check in with your values, you know, check in with your agenda and then have a conversation with your child. And quite honestly, when I started to put my Progressing Ballet Technique program out there I knew nothing about this social media world at all. You know, I’m from the old school. Only a few years later, My program is gone global because of this so obviously, you know the message is out there for the teachers to follow my program. So it’s been wonderful for PBT and it can be wonderful used in a positive way for these young students. I love to educate them in that broad range and you know I’ll talk to the the children each week about their favourite artists and all of this is wonderful. So we need to grasp the positive and educate the parents and teachers I think on the negative sides and it’s just awareness and Iook, I thank you so much because this is close to my heart because training the holistic dancer is very important to the dance world and the precious children as well. And I think parents just need that education. So thank you so much for coming along today to chat.
You’re Welcome Thanks for asking us. Thanks Marie.

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