When I was training and performing in NYC, video cameras were large and expensive machines that very few people could afford or could carry around; the idea of video recording in class was completely non-existent. At that time, even still photos were not permitted without teacher approval, and an announcement was made prior to photos being taken because members of the performing arts unions (SAG, AFTRA, AGMA, Equity) were not permitted to be candidly photographed. If you wanted to remember choreography, you had to REMEMBER choreography.
I left the dance industry for about ten years, and when I came back everyone seemed to have a phone that was capable of making a video recording. And everything changed. Even the large professional studios like Steps on Broadway and Broadway Dance Center now seem to be OK with video recording, as students will routinely have a recording made of themselves in class and post it on Facebook or other social media. I do not allow students to use video cameras in my classes. My choreography and my teaching methods are my livelihood; students pay for class and they get the benefits of my work for that 90 minutes. They do not get to “take me home with them”. That is my opinion and not everyone agrees with me. And that’s OK. I found an interesting blog post on this topic:
But there is more to this issue that isn’t addressed in the aforementioned post. I have always believed that the dance studio and dance classes are sacred and safe. Dancers should be able to come to class to WORK, TRAIN, STUDY and IMPROVE. They should also be able to experiment, to try new things, and to fail. They are not there to perform. They are not there to be seen. I am well past 50 years old. And as 60 gets closer and closer, there are many things that can still get better: musicality, nuance, phrasing, ARTISTRY. But no mater how hard one works at my age, there is a decline. There is a decline in speed, buoyancy, extension, balance. And that is a simple fact of life and of the aging process. But class is safe. Class is sacred; or so I thought. Until one day, while scrolling through Facebook, I found a post made by a young, wonderful teacher. A teacher at a very large and famous studio. A teacher who’s class I love and occasionally take. So I clicked on the link. There I was, at 55 years old, dancing in class. The video was made by the teacher (I did not notice the camera…I was focused on my work). The video was posted by the teacher (without my permission). The video was seen by this teacher’s thousands of followers…and sadly, class is no longer sacred or safe.
I know that this change has occurred and this change in philosophy is probably here to stay. But to all the wonderful teachers who are training all of tomorrow’s wonderful dancers: Please think carefully before you point a camera and post a video without permission. Think about your dancers. Think about their process. For my students, in my classes, for as much as I can control it, the studio is still sacred.