Looking in the Popular Culture Mirror Essay-Haley Moore

Haley Moore
May 30th 2014
Looking in the Popular Culture Mirror

Although not always the case, I feel that dancers are for the most part inaccurately portrayed in the media, because there is so much more to dance than one would think based on social media artifacts. After analyzing three different media portrayals of dancers, the show So You Think You Can Dance, the show Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders, as well as looking at the fad of Zumba, a work out based style of dance; it would seem that dance is all about looks, body type, as well as “tv personality”.

The show So You Think You Can Dance has a nation wide audience. Its purpose is to entertain the public. The first few episodes are taking you through the audition process where each dancer that is auditioning preforms a solo in front of the judges, and the judges then decide if they will put them through to the show or not. When they air the auditions on TV, they show both really talented dancers, but also they show dancers that are not very good at dancing.
The reason they show these bad dancers in my opinion is because people find it funny, and the judges make fun of them; so it’s a part of the entertainment aspect. I feel like it is interesting that they make fun of dancers that audition who are really bad at dancing. Those people obviously felt confident enough to audition, and I feel like these dancers just show that dance is up for interpretation. Who really is to say what dance is good or bad, it’s all up to opinion. I find it rude that they broadcast these dancers in an embarrassing way rather than just cutting them from the competition and moving on. I think the dancers that they make fun of just goes to show that there are so many styles, and if you feel confident in what you do you should go for it.
After the audition process, they choose twelve girls and twelve guys to preform on the show. I notice that most of the girls on the show are pretty and have really fit bodies. This is something I feel is misinterpreted in the media because not all dancers are stick skinny and gorgeous, but that is really all you see being portrayed on shows like this and such. That being said, I do love the fact that all the dancers on this show seem to have the passion and drive behind their dancing. Each week, the contestants will preform a dance and then the public votes on which dancer they think should stay in the competition.
I remember in one season, there were two finalists that were both girls. One of the girls in my opinion had better technique within her dancing, but the girl who ended up winning had the personality for a TV show and entertained the audience so in turn, she was the winner. I find it interesting that a person with the “TV personality” would win over the person who is a better dancer in my opinion.
One show that I feel really miss-portrays people in the media is Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader: Making the Cut. I feel this way because to me, all this show is saying is that if you want to make it as a professional dancer in the dance world, you HAVE to be pretty and skinny. There is actually a section on the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader website called “eye candy” (dallascowboycheerleaders.com, 2012). It is a section where the dancers are videoed in a swim suit, posing, with music playing in the background.   

I also find it somewhat degrading to the dancers on the show with the skimpy outfits they put the girls in and such.
The coaches on this show are the ones that make me cringe! They will easily take a girl with has a nice body over somebody who has amazing technique and years of dance experience. I watched an episode from last season of Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders and a girl got kicked off, on TV in front of millions of people, for being too “fat” and not looking good in their uniform. To me there wasn’t any fat on her body! I just find that unbelievable! If you have a true passion for dance, and you’re good at it I don’t think you should be punished for having a body type that doesn’t fit “the look”. This coming from someone who feels like I could never have a chance at professional dancing purely because of how my body is. Not saying I’m fat, I just don’t have “the right” body type. I won’t even attempt to make myself get into the professional business because I don’t think I could handle the critiques.
The motto of the raging popular culture fad, Zumba, “shake, shake, shrink. The most fun and effective work out, ever.” Founded in 2001, Zumba Fitness is a global lifestyle brand that fuses fitness, entertainment and culture into an exhilarating dance-fitness sensation (Zumba.com, 2008). All the instructors that have taught classes that I have taken, make you feel like you are free to just be yourself and have fun! I love Zumba, it is one of my favorite ways to get a good work out in. It is so great to just let loose and not worry about what other people might think of me; not to mention the fact that it does not even feel like a work out. You do not even focus on how tired you are or how many burpees you have left to do; you just dance it out and have fun, then before you know it an hour has past and you just burned four hundred calories ! I know a lot of people make fun of Zumba just because it seems sort of cheesy, but I guarantee if they tried it they would have a blast! The commercial purpose of Zumba is to make people get a great work out in and feel great about themselves. When you make people feel good about themself and help them be more healthy, they will pay money to come to your gym and work out! I think this type of dance is generally shown in a positive way, because it welcomes people of all shapes, looks, sizes ect. And encourages them to just have fun, try it out and be yourself. If you mess up or feel like you look funny, it doesn’t matter, because this style of dance is just purely for the person who chose to take the class. I think it’s a great confidence booster for those people who maybe don’t want something so intense.
In conclusion, there are many different styles and interpretations of dance. If you feel like you have a passion for something, do not let things you see in popular culture media turn you away from that. In comparison, if you feel like something portrayed in popular culture looks like it could be fun, try it out! Although popular culture and media surround us in our day to day lives, we do not have to be consumed by its influences.