The Scary Trend in Children’s Dance

Educate yourself about hyper-sexualization in children’s dance

If your daughter wants to take dance class, pick a company who’s conservative both in song selections and wardrobe choices to encourage modesty.

from contributing writer Mary Bawden

Have you bought flowers for that ‘special dancer?’ Each year I enjoy the dance recital of my two granddaughters at the Dance Foundation. At their most recent recital, their dances were titled ‘Whispering Wind’ (ballet), ‘Enchanted Rain’ (ballet), and ‘Trumpets and Horns’ (tap). It was a wonderful time to celebrate how the positive aspects of dance have affected them. Research shows that dance classes develop advanced skills in creativity, problem solving, communication, risk taking, high ordered thinking, and social awareness.


A young Mary Bawden

A young Mary Bawden

Then nostalgia. I’m taken back to personal memories about MY June dance recitals. One year I was a ‘4th of July’ dancer; the next year I was a ‘Nightingale’ and later, I even appeared as ‘Mary Poppins.’ Each week I went to dance class and each week I fell more in love with movement. During those years, I was fortunate enough to learn the craft of ballet from teachers Olga Fricker and Sheila Darby. Ms. Darby was on the national board of Cecchetti Ballet and she was the one who encouraged me to pursue dance professionally. But she didn’t need to emphasize the importance of dance to me. Movement classes reached into my heart throughout adolescence & adulthood. In a changing world, dance class was a positive, safe adventure. And I always wanted more. That’s why my love of dance took me beyond childhood memories.

Cheerleader For Dance

As an adult, I received a BA in modern dance from the University of California Riverside, a MA in worship (with an emphasis in dance) from Hope International University in Fullerton CA, and a California secondary teaching credential. I am also the founder of Soul to Sole Choreography and DA:NCE (Dance Awareness: No Child Exploited). Beyond that, I’ve led a dance ministry at my church for over 20 years and I’ve written a book on that subject. In 2016, I fell in love with ‘LaLaLand’ as well as the new documentary on Misty Copeland, the first black dancer chosen to be a prima ballerina for the American Ballet Theater. It’s safe to say that I am a cheerleader for dance.

But I need to pause here. Because our culture is inundated with children involved in dance and because I am a dance educator, lean in...

I care about maintaining the artistry of dance, and I care about nurturing children from an educational perspective. So here goes. In many dance studios around the nation, there has been an increase in sexualized, objectified movement for children under 12. These studios/teachers often unknowingly model their movement choices on what they see in the media culture. I’ll label this cultural shift the difference between healthy, age-appropriate dance versus unhealthy, age-inappropriate dance.

Hyper-sexualization/Objectification In Movement

Before I go further, I want to clarify what I mean by sexualization/objectification in movement by sharing some research you can read in detail. The APA (American Psychological Association) report on girls says that there are several components to unhealthy sexuality, and these components set it apart from healthy sexuality. When their criteria is applied to dance studio choreography, it’s important to identify negative movement patterns: booty pops, lip-licking, finger licking/sucking, breast or groin stroking, patting or pointing towards breast or genitalia, crotch-grabbing, obscene gestures, suggestive grinding, and seductive props and looks. And the sexual menu continues to increase.

Check out just one example below of how 8-9 year old girls are dancing in their classes and for competitions (warning: graphic).

This is not the art form of dance. It does not promote artistry or creativity. Actually, it is hyper-sexualization, and it is hurting the perception of dance when a wide-ranging cultural audience watch it in media, model after it, and move in it. More importantly, it normalizes unhealthy sexuality as defined by the APA report.

DA:NCE (Dance Awareness: No Child Exploited)

Because there are many people who love dance as well as dance educators who are concerned about this cultural trend just like me, I have released several materials to provide a solution for dance education, particularly focusing on children under 12, under the title of DA:NCE (Dance Awareness: No Child Exploited) on my website Soul to Sole choreography. I’ve described them below:

  1. 4 minute video exploring the problem of sexualization in children’s dance. Please share it on Facebook.
  2. An R-rated, research-based 30 minute video or a PG rated research-based 17 minute video that has been designed to bring awareness and education in dance (with experts in the field) so that children are not exploited.
  3. An educational powerpoint presentation anyone can download to make a presentation in their local community on this topic.
  4. An encouragement to join Youth Protection Advocates in Dance. Y.P.A.D. is a national organization that is working to certify dance studios with healthy movement criteria(and a lot more). Your membership will make a difference for you and for change across the country.
  5. A national dance petition sponsored by the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) bringing education and awareness to dance studios about the objectification of kids under 12.

If you love dance, please share the educational materials above with other parents and grandparents. While I support the art of dance 100%, I do not support its inappropriate use. There are appropriate, creative, wonderful ways to use choreography in this culture, and unfortunately, inappropriate ways to distort movement as well (so, like many other areas, choice is the issue). Please join me in bringing awareness to dance trends that distort the art form, as well as the cultural acceptance of dance that normalizes the hyper-sexualization of children. Let’s make healthy movement choices in what we support in the arts as well as what we allow our children to participate in. I feel a responsibility to protect children, educate adults, and encourage the art of age-appropriate dance in the current media culture.

Now I’m off. I’ve got to pick up a bouquet of flowers. I wouldn’t miss the joy of another dance recital in Redlands. I can hardly wait to see the show! Join the healthy movement cause and help me be a cheerleader for the art of dance, not the objectification of children!


If you want more info on Hollywood’s deception. You can download the brand new Hollywood Exposed 4 CD series here. TUNE IN with your kids. It will change their life, and yours.





As a dance educator, living in Redlands, CA with husband Richard, Mary Bawden loves dance and its researched benefits. She founded DA:NCE which advocates for the protection of children and Soul to Sole Choreography which provides concrete tools for communicating the gospel using the language of movement.

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14 thoughts on “The Scary Trend in Children’s Dance

  1. It is indicative of this decadent society that has abandoned the morality of the Christian faith to objectify the female body and to introduce it’s children to the art of sexual allurement and induce paedophiles and other perverts to fantacise by dressing our little girls in provocative clothes.
    And this at the same time as we incarcerate people for disfiguring their young girls by breast ironing and FGM in order to deny the same group of perverts the pleasure of gratifying their lusts.
    Those who are promoting this so called fashion should be reprimanded and even imprisoned. This should apply to the parents who expose their children to this type of sexualisation also. The religion of this era is sex.

    • I completely agree with your comment above. I strongly believe if ALL who claim are Christian would do exactly what Christ has called them to do, we would see a completely different America today! keep sharing truth in love and exposing Satan’s lies!! Glad to have our paths cross!

  2. You say it is important to protect kids under the age of 12, but I ask, at what age is it ok to teach young women to do the moves that objectify themselves?!
    I am fortunate my daughters (12 and 15) are dancing at a studio where provocative and sexual moves are never choreographed, even when graduating at 18.
    Women are never objects and young teens need to be shown this by example all through their formative teen years.

    • I completely agree with what you said above! We have our two girls 7 and 5 in a Christian dance studio, fully clothed, and actually learning the techniques of dance. Women should NEVER (at any age) be taught to do moves that objectify themselves. Keep sharing the truth and reaching out to those that need direction. 🙂

  3. Balony….
    Dancing for kids is awesome exercise…builds self confidense and long lasting feiendships! If parents have healthy honest relationships with their dancing kids none of this should matter, unless of course some ppl. are stuck up trying to relive their childhood through their dancinging kids.

    • Well. I do agree with HALF of what you wrote 🙂 Dancing IS a great way to exercise as my two girls 7 and 5 will tell you. However, they will NEVER dance anywhere on stage, hallways, competitions, etc. with lingerie on. Otherwise, we are teaching our girls how to get attention, clapping, etc. through the wrong means. Girls should be celebrated with choosing a modest lifestyle. This dress and dance style is too over the top for strippers. Which I believe we should be helping strippers see they are loved by God and don’t have to sell their souls and bodies for cash. I have friends who rescue and reach out to women in strip clubs and the amazing stories of those rescued by that bondage is phenomenal! Girls dance class, amazing…if proper dress attire and songs and dance moves show purity and modesty. Too many dangers with the example given above. One pedophile in that audience and it’s over. I also would never want my husband to see naked girls dancing on stage. YIKES!

  4. Shame on each parent that allowed their daughters to be sexualised in this fashion, looked upon by males in the audience , to be taught by a teacher without moral ps or care for the girls and to each adult who did not walk out of the concert, shame on the organisers … child should be sexualised …..

  5. Well there’s a can of worms to be opened or not ….. lol. If you don’t like it don’t watched it. It’s been around for 30-40 years and I’ve said ergh ! That’s gross and choose not to watch anything to do with it. So now they probably want to ban it….. taking away another freedom of choice !!

    • Well, my concern is for the girls dancing like this and for the parents allowing and even promoting it. We can’t sit back and not do anything. I agree…we definitely shouldn’t watch it. no one should. therefore, as a Christian, I love exposing what is going on and encouraging people to make better choices. If we just stick our heads in the sand, this activity won’t just remain on a dance stage competition. And we can see that it hasn’t. it’s now permeated our schools. Let’s team up together and save some hearts, minds and souls!

  6. Ya. Agreed. All I had to see was little girls wearing what looks to me a prostituts evening wear/private adult sexy time underwear. All Needed to hear was your not being in favor of sexualizing children for public consumption. Agreed. With so many ways and styles of dance available, …agreed.

    • THank you for your comment! Part of me was, do i post this or not? the last thing i want to do is have anyone else see this, HOWEVER, if we don’t know what’s going on, we can’t create change and keep a look out! many parents are afraid to speak up if their kids are in a dance class with raunchy songs and attire. But we as parents have a voice 🙂 let’s keep using it to speak up and create change and if need be, choose another dance studio.

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