The Evil Imp

Staged Stupidity

In the arts some folk may be a little too interested in what others think of them. All you need to do is look at the incessant praise re-tweeting, pull quotes from reviews and caring too much about being reviewed in the first place.

The Stage is reporting (stop laughing at the back) on a “survey” conducted for a dance clothing retailer that concluded a lot of people in the UK think that training in dance is a waste of money.

For the opening paragraph of the piece headlined “Public doubts value of a degree in dance” we have this;

“Fewer than one-fifth of UK residents believe that obtaining a degree in dance is worth the costs incurred while attending university, according to new research.”

The actual number is 53% of 1,000 people surveyed. What we need to imagine for a moment is some random polling company calling you on the phone and asking you the following question; “Do you think that training in marine biology is the worth the costs incurred while attending university?”

How would you answer that question from an informed perspective? Well, first of all you would have to know what a marine biologist actually studies and how the knowledge gained at university applies to their chosen profession.

You would also need to know what other professions they can work in using that knowledge and what the benefits are of having highly skilled marine biologists in todays world.

If you are basing your answer on purely financial factors then you would need know how much money a marine biologist earns. Looking at that profession more broadly you would also have to factor in the intrinsic value of the profession.

For example, if a marine biologist isn’t paid very much or nothing at all and they discover a way to prevent global fish stocks becoming depleted does that discovery justify the cost of their education even if they receive little or no financial compensation?

Do you think the people responding to the survey about dance training were considering all the relevant factors before answering the questions put to them?

We think you know what the answer is.

The Survey Goes On

“Meanwhile, of the 1,000 people surveyed, 55% of parents said they would be happy to see their child pursue a career in dance or the performing arts.”

So, 53% of people think that training in dance is a waste of money but 55% of parents would not object to their offspring training in the arts. Either a certain percentage of parents don’t mind their kids wasting money training in dance or a certain percentage of parents are completely stupid.

And then;

“For the dance industry to continue, we need budding performers not to lose sight of the extremely rewarding career path that dance can bring,” said ***** ******* head of marketing, Paul Franklin.”

Let us not forget that those “budding” dancers will also need to buy lots of tatty dance clothes from the dance retailer this man represents until they figure out that any old t-shirt and a pair of joggers with the elastic bits cut off the bottom will do. Not to mention the socks.

The crazy continues with the man from marketing;

“He also said that there were alternatives to university training for student dancers, such as independent dance schools where young people could learn about dance without such high fees.”

You don’t go to dance school to “learn about dance” you go to dance school to train in dance. You can learn about dance from a book, training is another matter entirely.

Yes, fees are too high for all the really good schools but as far as your education is concerned you need to look past the fees to see what you’re really getting from any particular dance school.


“…he acknowledged that some “may need to complete a degree in dance” if they want to become recognised professionals.”

We don’t know what “recognised professional” means since professional dancers don’t get a licence to practice but the “degree” part of training in dance is not really a factor in a professional dancers career.

Audition notices do not ask for proof of qualifications. Dance makers want to know who you are, what you have done and what you can do. Having a 2:1 or a first class honours degree isn’t at all relevant.

The final thing we should point out here is this. Why the hell should anybody care whether or not the respondents to a survey think what they do with their education is “worth the cost” or not?

Dancers and those in dance training are already pre-disposed to choose the path less travelled so they are going to take their chances no matter what anybody thinks.

This “survey” was little more than an attention seeking exercise by a commercial company looking for some free press exposure using attention grabbing headlines. The Stage should have known better than to publish it (or maybe they don’t know any better) and some on social media should have known better than to share it.