Changing Dance Audience Desires Through Media And Dance Literacy: A Strategy To Reducing Heath Problems In Dancers

3170 words - 13 pages

Changing Dance Audience Desires through Media and Dance Literacy: A Strategy to Reducing Heath Problems in Dancers
Throughout history dance performances have been a form of entertainment for communities, and their dancers as role models for young girls. However, research conducted in the last twenty years related to how female dancers interpret body images, presents a problem within the United States dance industry. Young female dancers have been found to have a higher risk than their non-dancing female counterparts for developing serious health problems, like depression and eating disorders. These problems, according to communication experts Heiland, Murray, and Edley, stem ...view middle of the document...

Educating dancers on media and dance literacy could result in them having a better understanding of the media’s portrayal of women, and therefore, lower their health risks acquired by comparing themselves to the notion of media’s “ideal” woman. If dancers are educated in media and dance literacy, it might affect how they see media, and therefore, improve the perception of their self. However, since the dance industry itself is influenced by audience desires, ultimately the audience sets the standard for women’s looks. To attack to root of the problem, ultimately the desires of American dance audiences need to support and reflect a healthier view of women. These points are crucial factors in determining if it is possible to mitigate the effects of media’s female beauty standards using media and dance literacy. They will be discussed later on this paper. Overall, the argument for dance and media literacy education in dance environments is vital to make since dancer’s lives could be saved.
Jade Chong’s YouTube video dance performance of “To Build a Home”, is a great example of the complex issues which dancers face, because of audience desires. The performance communicates the story of body image related challenges which dancers encounter verbally and visually. The video depicts four young female dancers, performing a dance routine to a sonnet describing the pressures dancers run into while training in dance. For example, one of the pressures they mention is “thinking all day about what other people see”. This video is a testament that dancers themselves notice their body image related problems. The pure fact that they are performing the number for an audience, composed of dance educators is significant, because it symbolizes their desire to acquire audience and dance industry support for their struggles. It is also an example of the concept that dance audiences need to be actively involved in decreasing body image pressures for dancers. Furthermore, it is vital to note that the dancers themselves are tall, thin, and solemn looking: the perfect ballerina look. This component of the performance adds credibility to the argument they are making against dance industry beauty standards. Overall, this video uncovers one major problem when trying to find a solution to the pressures regarding female body image on dancers. Will the general American dance audience and dance educators attend to their cry for help?
The solution proposed in this paper is one founded on the concept that media and dance literacy can help dancers, and their audience understand body image more critically, and therefore prompt them to influence positive change in the dance industry. Media literacy, according to James Brown, author of “Media Literacy Perspectives” is “the ability to analyze and appreciate respected works of literature and, by extension, to communicate effectively by writing well. In the past half-century...

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