You're obsessed with class videos. We're obsessed with class videos. The passion, energy, and talent showcased in these clips, which give us an insider-y peek at the commercial dance world's hottest classes, are totally irresistible.
But at what point does the phenomenon go from being a good thing to a bad thing for dancers and the dance world? Is the focus on filming distracting from the work dancers are supposed to be doing in class? Are overproduced videos presenting a dangerously misleading picture of the dance world? Is the pressure to be a class video star becoming too much for dancers to handle? These are some of the questions A-list dancer and choreographer Ian Eastwood—no stranger to the class video himself—has been asking on Twitter. And they've sparked a lively, important debate.
Eastwood started the discussion with a rant about highly produced class videos, whose slickness seems to imply that the purpose of class was the video:
YALL ARE CHOPPIN UP DANCING WITH SLOW MOTION IN CLASS CLIPS NOW?! lol this is where i officially tap out with the c… https://t.co/MlkEx55reH— Ian Eastwood (@Ian Eastwood)1512220913.0
class is not about an end performance it’s about an exchange of information. and if you’re sitting at home and didn… https://t.co/IrPniPcBoP— Ian Eastwood (@Ian Eastwood)1512221334.0
Then he posted an example of what is, in his opinion, the class clip done right—simply, with some teaching footage included:
THIS is an example of what a class clip SHOULD look like from 7 YEARS AGO. a NON INVASIVE video that captures the D… https://t.co/UbQdA7eGgR— Ian Eastwood (@Ian Eastwood)1512222281.0
this is all for education of the next generation. you have greats in this video as well. high skill level with no h… https://t.co/OVMufGft81— Ian Eastwood (@Ian Eastwood)1512222420.0
Eastwood started getting "Amens" left and right, with dancers chiming in that the trend made them feel uncomfortable and intimidated in the studio, which should be a safe space. He also responded to critics who wondered what was wrong with editing footage to make it more entertaining, or wished he'd sought out opposing points of view before venting publicly.
Before long, the thread had caught fire, with big names starting to weigh in:
So glad this is coming out... It's turning into these "Instagram famous" dancers thinking the teacher needs THEM mo… https://t.co/bepgJew4bf— Mollee Gray (@Mollee Gray)1512342494.0
@Ian_Eastwood it's nice to hear this from a prominent online figure like you. As someone who has taught for over a… https://t.co/8Vs1R7dVck— Tucker Barkley (@Tucker Barkley)1512402478.0
@Ian_Eastwood Do I get why they're being posted and used in this manner? Yes. Do I think it's beneficial to the dan… https://t.co/YJDqDXOxjg— Tucker Barkley (@Tucker Barkley)1512402509.0
My best friend is a brilliant director that happens to film some dance classes, takes my class every week. do I ask… https://t.co/i9qHsnWDSC— Tucker Barkley (@Tucker Barkley)1512402618.0
Dance to inspire, not to impress. Inspiration is honest & authentic. Trying to impress is ego driven & won’t provide long term fulfillment.— Tessandra Chavez (@Tessandra Chavez)1512202904.0
Keone Madrid had some particularly eloquent thoughts on the subject:
Best believe I stand by my bro @Ian_Eastwood on what he’s saying in regards to the classroom and a systematic manip… https://t.co/GBeAozuj36— Keone Madrid (@Keone Madrid)1512438627.0
and it’s too far now to not bring the conversation to public platforms. I tweeted this almost 2 years ago -… https://t.co/IZ1TsPKjfv— Keone Madrid (@Keone Madrid)1512438717.0
Example: a conversation Mari & I had with non-dancers; we talked the reality of some of the class videos and how it… https://t.co/sMarwyqEMJ— Keone Madrid (@Keone Madrid)1512438835.0
Still, there’s a place for this kind of content - success is infinite for all. But when students want to learn and… https://t.co/gmkzuydwVd— Keone Madrid (@Keone Madrid)1512438927.0
Keep it simple: If you’re a teacher - teach. If you want to show skills - be skilled. If you want to create - be cr… https://t.co/ap6aDdG98q— Keone Madrid (@Keone Madrid)1512439047.0
Clearly, the issue is striking a chord with dancers. What do you think? Has the class video evolved into something toxic? And if it has, what can we do to fix the problem?