How to Protect Your Dancer from "Instafame"
A current cultural shift has exploded into the world of dance. For millennial dancers, becoming famous is no longer an out-of-reach dream. Today, fame is instantly gained by simply posting an image or video in the social media world. According to socialmediaweek.org, 31% of teens between the ages of 13 and 18 believe they will be famous one day. In Dance Magazine (November, 2015) 1 out of every 4 teenage dancers, uses either Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat or Facebook as a telescope into their dance training and WHAT they are currently valuing from their dance routines.
Some teens, such as Shawn Megira, 15 yrs., from Houston, Texas gained 81,000 followers in less than three months on his Instagram after he posted a video of himself. When he traveled to the local market, town square, and a movie theater, people would only notice him from what he posted on his Instagram.
Niabe Way, Professor of Development at NYU, wrote in her book Deep Secrets that artistic abilities are influenced by social media in such a way that individuals use specific movements and styles for attention purposes. Unfortunately, these movements tend to be too mature for the dancer involved. This can fulfill the need for a human connection by displaying to an audience who you "are". To a 15 year old, like Shawn Megira on Instagram, he states "It is about how many people know about me. If I get 100 likes for dancing a certain way, I am recognized more".
The nature of human connection was an idea of Charles Darwin (The Expressions of Emotions and Man, 1872). He felt it was a desire for recognition, power, and to simply feel good. This desire for recognition can pressure dancers in an industry where clean and valuable artistic movements can easily be turned into exploitive expressions. What motivates young dancers and establishments to dance for "Instafame" and not for the artistic beauty it is? James Franco with the NY Times, believes what motivates these tantalizing expressions is to increase "likes" and to seek the validation of one's fans. We seem to be obsessed with the "self" in a culture where we thrive on validation and popularity.
It is incredibly easy to fall into the trap of "Instafame" by using dance routines or dance combinations. This is why It is vital to understand the long term affects of staying grounded, classy, and age-appropriate in the training of dance. Invest in what will last and bring true meaning to a healthy dance education. Being heard and seen can happen through excellent training and education. Encourage your dancer. Tell them they are beautiful for the right reasons, that they are seen and heard, and that their relationship with dance is a lifetime investment.