Put Down Your Phone - Why You Shouldn't Videotape Your Child Dancing

She's worked hard for months. You haven't been allowed in the studio to see her newest variation. Her hair is in a perfect bun and she's wearing tights with no holes today. The parents file into the studio... and get out their cameras and cell phones. 

I hate this.

As a teacher, I think it's super important for kids to have a chance to perform, even when it's in the studio. But one of my pet peeves is parents videotaping or taking pictures during their dancing time.  

Miss Haley, I want to videotape it so I can have it forever! What's wrong with that?

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In our culture now, it is standard to videotape or record footage from live events. When you go to a concert, you record. When you see something funny happening, you record. It's second nature now.

I use recording all the time in class to help my students. We videotape a combo it, then watch it, find things we want to correct, and then dance it again. It makes a huge difference! And I have no problem with dance being recorded during a live show.

Please hear me: I have no issues with dance being recorded! So why am I so against parents recording their kids?

1. The show should be live.

Imagine this: You've worked hard, you know your dance, you're ready. The music begins. You're dancing and looking into the face of... your mom holding a phone. You cannot connect with your audience because they're not looking at you, they're looking at their phone screen. When the music ends, everyone stops their recording, puts down their expensive device, and then starts clapping (about 4 seconds after you finish), but by then it's too late. It was not magical. It was just a filming.

Dance wasn't created for the screen. It was created for the stage.

Please. Connect with your dancer. Watch them. Be involved in their performance. The disconnect they will experience from dancing for your phone instead of you will poison the experience for them, and they will feel like you are not supporting them. I cannot tell you how many times this has happened.



2. Some people do not want their kids on the internet.

It is a courtesy to others to not record. I distinctly remember one year early in my dance education where all the parents wanted a group picture, but one mom took her kid out of that group picture. The parents were confused, the kids were sad because their classmate wasn't in the photo, and the child was embarrassed. I found out later she was a witness protection kid. 

I've had other situations where parents simply didn't want their kids online for random creepy people to see. And I totally get that!

3. Keep your studio safe.

Lastly, some studios has media release clauses in their legal protection, but others don't (or don't have complete coverage). It can actually put the dance studio in a bad place if people spread the photos and videos around without permission. 

So what can we do?

1. Ask your teacher/studio owner if it's ok to record.
2. Ask your fellow parents if it's ok to put online.
3. Ask one particular person to record, then share the file or link with everyone so you can be an attentive audience member.

Teachers - it's a great idea to set up a tripod and tell the families you will give them access to the footage, but please put away their phones. Their kids want an audience!

Photo credit: Kaur Ilves via Visual Hunt / CC BY-ND

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