Dancers have a hard time getting on stage, especially when they’re strangers.
In a recent survey of 1,000 adults, most of those who said they have danced in front of strangers have never been to a party.
They said they were uncomfortable, embarrassed, and nervous, and some said they’d rather not be seen dancing than perform.
Even if a dance is a safe activity for the person who is dancing, a social media survey from the American Dance Theatre Alliance found that dancers have trouble getting noticed.
In an online survey, one in four dancers said they felt unwelcome, or that they were afraid of appearing rude, when they were at a party, and one in five said they had experienced embarrassment or harassment in front.
And a third said they weren’t sure whether they should participate.
Dance instructors said they needed to create a culture that welcomes dancers.
“Dance is about more than just getting out of the house,” said Laura Coyle, a dance instructor at the Bexley Community Center.
“It’s about having a sense of humor, having a spirit of service, and a sense that everybody is there for the same thing.”
Coyle said dance is about people coming together, and that it can be difficult for people to accept a stranger at a dance.
“We need to be respectful to everyone who’s in the same room as us,” she said.
Dancers can take the time to think about how they will approach a stranger, but she said they need to focus on how to be friendly and nonjudgmental.
“If you don’t have that experience, you’ll never be able to experience that, and you’ll get scared,” she added.
“The best way to go about it is to do it in a way that feels safe and authentic to you.”
The American Dance Theater Alliance survey also found that women were more likely to feel unsafe in front than men.
Women were four times more likely than men to report feeling uncomfortable in front, and they were twice as likely as men to be afraid of a stranger.
The survey also asked respondents to share their experiences with strangers.
Of the women who reported experiencing harassment, 70 percent said they reported it to a social worker, while only 27 percent reported it in the dance community.
Many of the women said they didn’t feel like sharing their story, partly because they feared that they would be ridiculed.
“A lot of these women are going to feel really hurt and feel really afraid,” Coyle added.
Dances can be very intimate, said Coyle.
“But that doesn’t mean that dancing can’t be intimate.
I think that all of us can benefit from having a little bit of space in our dance.”
But when it comes to safety, she said, “The key is to have the space to dance.”
When I asked about whether she had ever been approached, she paused and said, Not really.
I didn’t really want to make that sound creepy.
“I’ve been told a lot of times, ‘It’s not that you’re bad; it’s just that you should wear a dress,’ ” she added, laughing.
But she acknowledged that she wasn’t afraid of being touched in public.
“There’s definitely an element of that.
It can be scary,” she explained.
She said she does wear a skirt and has always had a dress code, even when she’s been in the community.
Coyle emphasized that dancing is not for everyone.
“In the community, I think everyone has to be part of the dance,” she insisted.
And if you’re afraid, you can’t dance.”