One morning I got up from bed sleepily went over to my computer to check my emails and there it was an email saying I have a “comment” on one of my videos on YouTube. My heart palpitated, my hands got clammy and my eyes went cross-eyed for a minute. You guessed it; I jumped back into bed under the covers!
Now I’m not saying I mind “comments” but for some bizarre reason viewers think they can write just about anything even if it is negative. I put my videos up because I am proud of them and wanted to share them with belly dance enthusiasts. Well that’s what I thought until I realized that my videos were targets for just about any comment under the sun. So let’s take a really good look at this strange phenomenon and why viewers feel the need to comment.
We all have a preference regarding what we like and dislike in dance. If you are a dancer than you know what it takes to get on stage and perform in front of an audience. So right there most of us have something in common. Video taping performances is a great way for dancers to see themselves the way the audience does. And when we do a good job and there it is on tape, well it’s a great feeling. Why would anyone want to cut down another person’s right to be creative and to take away this feeling?
I wondered this exact thought as I finally crept out of bed and decided to face my “comment”. With a foreboding feeling I typed in my password and took a deep breath and started to read.
Guess what, to my surprise it was a nice comment. All of a sudden I could breathe normal and life went back as usual. Now I know there are many of you who may be reading this who are wondering why I just don’t take my videos down. Good question.
I want you to all know that before I put my videos up on various sites that I wasn’t like this (I only hid under the covers watching scary movies). But I have to tell you I had no clue how clueless some people can be when it comes to plain manners. So I didn’t take my videos down in the beginning because I realized not everybody uses tact or they just don’t care. Here’s something else I found out, that you have people who aren’t dancers at all who think they can be critics on a dance form they know nothing about. So knowing this, I kept them up. Another group that puzzles me is the dancers who make comments like “I can dance better than her” or “move my hips better than her”, you get the picture. So, ok where are their videos? If a dancer wants to leave comments like these than she needs to put up a performance of herself to show that she can actually dance better. But it’s easy to hide behind a comment. So I kept my videos up because I know comments like these are a dime a dozen even if they are hurtful.
Finally the comments that really bug “the you know what” out of me are what I call “Pointless”. I have an instructional video out and my husband put it up on a yahoo video group. But the only part he put up was of me talking about my video and why I produced it. I had a dancer comment that because there was no demonstration that I must not be any good. Another said I was just talking about myself, so there was nothing there. So how did the one dancer (if she is a dancer) come up with the assumption that I’m not any good? And as for the other comment, of course I’m talking about myself because most people don’t know me from Adam (or Eve). So the comments were supposed to warn viewers of what? I’m only scary when I wake up in the morning so I can’t figure out what the point was for these comments.
Ok, maybe I’m a little too sensitive but let’s face it, when people hide behind their computers they tend to feel safe so they write comments they wouldn’t say in public. I mean if we had a bunch of dancers watching performances and saying to each other they could do better, than think of our dance world and what it would be like. I’m not saying this doesn’t happen but most dancers tend to have some dance etiquette when they go to shows. I feel the same should be said for watching videos. If you don’t like how a dancer is performing than “don’t” watch the rest of the video. It’s that simple or is it?
So I started to check out other videos and comments that were made. “Wow”, I realized I was one of the lucky ones because some of the comments were just down right mean. On one video people were talking about if the dancer was really a woman. The video seemed to be popular but for what reason? Her talent was overshadowed by an ongoing discussion that had nothing to do with her dance. Is this what our community really wants for our dance? I have to admit that I had to watch the video to see what they were all talking about. So I got pulled in just like everybody else and found that the discussion became more important than the video clip itself. There were even advertisements put in the comment section that had nothing to do with the dancer performing. So it donned on me that this is the direction our society is going. But what’s happening to our creative expression with so many people watching our form of dance? I found that the reason why the comments became interesting was because my mental state became numb. Our humanity is what makes us different and unique as a species. We have technology that makes our lives better but in some ways maybe it’s making us forget our humanity. People want to be entertained at all costs. But as dancers are we willing to pay the price? Where will our dance be in ten years and what kind of comments will we face with more internet surfing on the rise?
Our future rests on the shoulders of dancers who understand their dance and know why they are dancing. It shouldn’t matter what other people say but in our world maybe those “other” people are dancers. So as each of you view clips of videos visualize yourself up there for the entire world to see. What would you do if someone said something unkind about your dance? The bottom line is we can’t please everyone and in truth we only need to please ourselves. If this is true than realize that just because someone isn’t dancing your way doesn’t make them wrong. We need to be tolerant of each other because this leads to a world that respects creative expression. So in the end of my video surfing I realized that we need to be able to express our opinions but how we do this says a lot about what kind of people we are. So my focus is on my dance and not on what’s wrong with somebody else’s performance. This is why I keep my videos up.
Here is a quote from a very dynamic woman who keeps me marching to my own tune:
“There is vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and since there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique, and if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is, not how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is a queer, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others”.