Badmouthing dancers on the internet. Stop it.

Just a little note on something that bothers me.

We’ve all seen it: Someone posts an unsuspecting dancer’s performance on a bellydance discussion forum and other dancers jump right in to badmouth the performance as if the dancer in question has no access to the forum, and as if she or he would never hear that other dancers are trash talking about her.

The internet, with its convenient anonymity and inherent distance between users, is no excuse for demeaning or insulting language.

Under the guise of “protecting traditional bellydance” or “starting meaningful discussion”, I’ve seen conversations turn into bash-fests.  Just because you don’t know a dancer and you think her performance was not good, lacking taste, or otherwise offensive, that does not mean that you should insult her on the internet in a forum in which she can read the comments.  In my mind, this behavior is akin to schoolyard drama between pre-teen girls.

What are you doing when you bash a dancer on the internet? You’re probably trying to validate your own dance by putting down someone else’s performance.  Instead of spending your time on the internet looking for what’s wrong with someone else’s dance, I say go work on your own.  If there’s something about another’s performance that bothers you, and that person hasn’t solicited feedback directly from you or the internet forum in question, please don’t talk about that dancer as though they’ll never read it.  And if it bothers you, don’t do it yourself.  If you’re an instructor, you can teach your own students to avoid dancing like the dancer in question… but please don’t mention the dancer by name.

This sort of behavior does nothing to lift up this dance form.  It isn’t professional. It just isn’t nice.  I believe it does more damage to the reputation of the dancer doing the badmouthing than the one being badmouthed.  But maybe that’s just because I don’t like bullies.  And I know we’re not all nice all the time, but at least try when you’re speaking in public, especially in a forum that is searchable, archived, and available for anyone to read.

 

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Wise words. Public badmouthing brings nothing good to anybody. One’s ofc entitled to an opinion, but there never is a good reason to go for public humiliation of another dancer. It also makes the badmouthing part look bad. I agree with Asharah, it is far better to spend time improving one’s own dance than to focus on what others do poorly. Then again, in the end we all know which focus makes the better dancer.

 

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Thanks for this. Honestly? Reading this sort of trash talking on the internet is what held me back from learning belly dance for so long. So much of what is supposedly being said in the name of “protecting the art form” is actually damaging. My perception of the dance community as an outsider looking in was that it was NOT a community I wanted to be a part of, although now that I am actually a part of it I know that not all (or most, even) dancers are nasty trash talkers.

 

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Thank you for stating these thoughts in such a concerned manner. My openness to what belly dance is “supposed to be” has changed throughout the years and I have unfortunately been a silent listener to those who would gossip about other dancers at times. As I’ve grown as a person, I find it much easier to steer the conversation away and I don’t belong to any list that tolerates such behavior now. It is discerning that these people who choose to “protect” “traditional” belly dance should act this way. Dance no matter what form always changes regardless of how people try to stop it. It only makes them look insecure. I might share this blog. I think making a public article like this that is seen is quite important.

 

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