Promotion and hyperbole – inextricably linked?

This is a subject that has been bothering me for several years because it appears that the two have become inextricably bound together and I think this is wrong.

It is not a crime to pad things with a little bit of hype, I think we all do that – trying extract the most we can from any experience, talent or qualification. However some people take this too far and we owe it not just to ourselves and our dance community but also the general public not to cross the boundary into fantasy. Dancers who indulge in excessive hyperbole tend to end up believing their own hype and this leads to problems all of their own, which I will talk more about later on.

Truth in advertising and getting the balance right.

When you are writing copy for your website about what you can do and how well you can do it, it is very hard to resist the temptation to turn ‘I teach workshops in baladi’ into ‘I am an expert in baladi.’ The second just sounds so much nicer doesn’t it? What happens then, when you are booked to teach a workshop in baladi and the students discover that you don’t in fact know a great deal more about baladi than they do? They maybe too polite to complain at the time but they will most likely not invite you back to teach anything else and will be uncomplimentary when asked about you by others in the dance community. Didn’t really work to your advantage did it?

A trend that has been around for a long time and really annoys me is the over-enthusiastic and dishonest use of the phrase ‘I have studied with.’ Studying with someone is something you do over a prolonged period, it is most definitely NOT applicable if you have only done one or two workshops with a teacher! It’s much more honest to say ‘I have taken several workshops with. . .’ Dancers who are coached by me, take regular private classes with me as well as attending my workshops are entitled to say that they have studied with me. One workshop on dancing with wings does not an expert make and certainly doesn’t qualify you to go off and start teaching your own workshops on the subject! I have seen that happen far too many times in recent years!

My fantasy is now my reality.

There are a growing number of dancers who I have observed change from being modest and honest about their achievements into strange beings that I find hard to recognise. These are the dancers who are either very ambitious, self-absorbed, have an inflated view of their place in the community or a combination of all three. Commercial considerations are high on their agenda as promoting their ‘brand’ and therefore themselves, becomes the be-all and end-all of everything and they often stoop to marketing practices that do neither their reputation or our dance in general any favours. Mud sticks which means it also sticks to the rest of us simply by association.

These are dancers who make for divas backstage and they have a habit of trampling over everything and everyone to get to where they want to be. I don’t think any of these dancers realise just how obnoxious they become, so intent are they on promoting themselves to the detriment of both honesty and standards. In recent years I have seen this as an ever-increasing phenomenon  and there are several dancers who I no longer have much to do with because they have gone down this route. To be honest I find it quite sad because most of them started out as very nice people.  I’ve also noticed that many of these dancers try to distance themselves from those who gave them their start, either by being their teacher or someone who helped them along the way. For some reason many of them expunge a great deal of their early dance experience and training so that they can say ‘look at me,  I got here with no help from anyone.’  Which is silly really because no one springs into being as a fully fledged, trained and experienced dancer. Just because you want to forget your more humble beginnings as a dancer doesn’t mean that your teachers and fellow students will do the same.

Dancers of this ilk really do annoy me and there are far too many of them around now. Oh how I wish I could prick the bubble of their fantasy, especially when I can see that they are living it at the expense of those around them. There are several around at  the moment that I have been watching from the side-lines, observing as they use methods of promoting and conducting themselves and/or their business that is disingenuous at best but sadly is usually just plain ruthless and calculating. There are a few who are prepared to be deliberately controversial or provocative in order to gain publicity for themselves in complete disregard for the consequences this brings with it. It may provide them with the instant results they want but in the long term this is not good for them and it most certainly isn’t good for the reputation of our dance as a whole. There is a very fine line between famous and infamous!

The old adage of being careful who you piss off on the way up because they will be waiting for you on the way back down, is a true one where the entertainment industry is concerned! Some dancers would do very well to remember this. . .

Welcome!

I never thought I’d find the need for a personal public blog, but here I am! 🙂

So why blog now?

I feel I have reached a point in my career where I can stand back and comment on how things are now compared with how they were when I started out. I have strong opinions about a lot of things and I’d like to share and discuss them with like-minded people. This will be more like a column in a newspaper or magazine with regular posts on particular subjects but not on a daily basis. Please take a moment to read the About this blog page before commenting on an entry.

My blog will serve a number of purposes:

  • To express my opinions about the dance community generally
  • To be thought-provoking without the need to be deliberately controversial
  • To share some of the knowledge I have spent 30 years accumulating
  • To relate anecdotes, interesting stories and memories about my experiences during my career as a dancer
  • To talk about the events, workshops and shows I attend
  • To enable dancers whose opinions I admire and find interesting to post as guest bloggers

 

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