On this twelfth anniversary of 9/11 I was thinking about the children who are 12 and under who know only what they have been told about the event and many of our young teachers who were children in grade school when it happened. The photos and video of the event playing today help to remind us all of what happened that day. I would like to use the reality of this horrific event to address a problem that I feel very strongly about.
I feel that as choreographers we must be very careful about bringing events like 9/11, tsunamis, hurricanes and concentration camps into our studios and onto our stages. We have to consider that we are responsible for the emotional development of our children, not just their physical development. I feel that “practicing” these tragic events may be having the reverse effect we were hoping for. I personally don’t feel that exposing these subject to children through choreography, especially pieces that are used for competitive purposes, is teaching our children about history or helping them “work through it”. Children pretending to die, acting like they are dead or carrying other “dead” children is very disturbing to me. I worry how often they have to play out these themes, what is being said to them to evoke the correct feeling. In three minutes or less, can we really do justice to these enormous themes?
I would like to think that the dance studio is a safe haven for children to get away from such events. To find joy in life through joyful movement. I worry about the child whose only refuge is the studio and we don’t even know it. I wonder about the child who experiences or has experienced violence in their home or in their lives, who have had the pain of death close to them or who struggle with depression. We know very little about what goes on in the homes of our students behind closed doors.
I encourage all of us to think about happier themes. Themes that build happy hearts and minds. To build a home away from home that doesn’t center around pretend tears and broken hearts. To spread joy through our work whenever possible!