My daughter loves Dora the Explorer. One of the early DVDs we bought her is Dora’s “Dance to the Rescue.” By my calculation, she has watched this movie one million plus one times in our minivan on our eight-hour drives to the Cleveland Clinic and 12-hour drives to Nana’s house in North Carolina.
Two things said in it have gotten under my skin. In the story, Dora tells viewers to “Get up! You can’t do the dance if you’re sitting down.” Later, Dora tells viewers that “You have to stand up to dance. Stand up, please!”
More recently, Kanye West received bad publicity after he stopped a concert to tell everyone in the audience to get up on their feet and dance unless they were in a wheelchair. He then refused to resume the concert until it was confirmed that a seated audience member was wheelchair bound. Fortunately, the video of his performance is not yet on Katherine’s DVD rotation, so I have yet to experience a 12-hour marathon of Kanye imploring audience members to stand so they can dance.
Despite the media’s demonization of Kanye West for this event (even claiming incorrectly that he demanded the wheelchair bound audience member to stand), I firmly believe that he was well intentioned. The Dora video is the same. They are telling people to not just observe, but participate. That’s good advice; participate in life, don’t just observe it. For Kanye, this raises the energy of his show and makes it more fun for everyone, performers and audience alike. For Dora the Explorer, it dampens criticism that children are becoming couch potatoes because of programming like it.
I give both a wholehearted pass on these statements as well intentioned.
But they hurt my heart. Kanye implied that you cannot dance if you cannot stand. Dora stated this directly. I don’t want my daughter to hear these things because she might believe them.
They are objectively false and subjectively hurtful. Katherine may not be able to get up, but she sure can get down. She loves to dance. She bounces up and down, up and down as daddy or mommy hold her hands, or she holds onto something and wiggles her tush (she calls it “wiggling her butt like a mermaid,” and sings her own song with those words), or she wiggles in her car seat, or she sits and swings her arms and torso back and forth, back and forth, or she hurls her body forward from a kneeling position, hair flying, or she pounds a pillow and screams “I wanna rock!” or she just excitedly bows over and over while seated and screaming “Dance! Dance!” or mommy or daddy hold her in their arms and swing her around the room in an exaggerated waltz while Katherine sings “dance all night” (her version of “I could have danced all night”) or … well, her repertoire is virtually endless and endlessly cute.
Dance how God made you.