Why Are People Berating This Little Tap Dancer?

October 24, 2013  |  

Perhaps by now, you’ve seen the viral video of this ballet recital featuring a line of, what appear to be,  four year old girls. In case you haven’t seen it, and can’t watch the embedded video above, these young ballerinas, are dancing to the song “Broadway Baby.” While everyone else is delivering the dance moves, in and out of time, there is one little girl dancing, flailing and tapping to the beat of her own drum. There are moments when she does the previously rehearsed choreography; but for the most part, she’s clearly doing her own thing. I will say, despite her abandoning the choreography, she does manage to stay in line the whole.

I came across the video earlier this week when my sister found it on Facebook. We watched and had a hearty laugh. Beyond the comedic aspect of it, we admired her creativity, her fearlessness and all of that boundless energy.

Naively, I thought that everyone who watched the video would feel the same way. But… I was wrong. As the video has garnered more and more attention, I’ve been shocked and saddened to find that quite a few people watched what I found to be an adorable little girl improvising and saw a girl that was unruly and disruptive.

On Yahoo, the racists came out. I won’t highlight any of their comments here because frankly, any time a story features a black person, even if that black person is four years old, there will be people attempting to hurl racial slurs and make hurtful, often dehumanizing, blanketed statements about black people all over the world.

But I was shocked to find disparaging comments about this child on Jezebel, a site dedicated to promoting feminism and rebuking the status quo.

One commenter on Jezebel wrote:

“As a mother with a little dancer just this age and a former children’s theater director I have to say that children like this can be a nightmare. She does not seem like a child so caught up she doesn’t realize what’s happening, she’s obviously seeking attention. The hardest part for me is when she’s trying to engage the little girl next to her and trying to get her to act out too. Some of these girls take this very seriously and have worked for months on this routine. What may make for a cute video out of context makes for a dance class where this girl is being disruptive and causing trouble by not listening. There are times when the respectful, proper thing to do is stay in line and do what everyone else is. A chorus dance is not the place to be a star. You are only pulling attention and being unfair to the other girls who are supposed to be having their moment too. Save it for a solo.”

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  • Sherrie Berglin

    Well, for starters this is not a ballet performance. Check out the shoes. Why do people keep referencing it that way? And that is one of the cutest things I’ve ever seen. I don’t believe that child was exhibiting anything but unbridled exuberance. I don’t see any indication that she was insidiously trying to steal the show. Good grief.

  • galybloom

    I saw this little ballerina on Bethany, she was smart, loving, respectful and full of life, not at all a terror or disciplinary nightmare. There are always going to be haters, oh no she stole everyone’s attention, she’s shinning on stage, oh no! Please, are you really going to scold a little child of 4 years old for dancing in a recital? She didn’t run amok all over the stage, she just just had fun like little girls should

  • HUgrad13

    As someone who danced for years, I can almost see where the rude people are coming from. If she was like 7 or older and at a serious dance school. At 4, they are not teaching any real technique. Its simply a beginner class. Ive taught 4 year olds dance before. Most of them act exactly like her. But she’s four. She wasnt “seeking attention”. She was HAVING FUN. This will not ruin any of her fellow dancemates lives. -__-

  • cd cd

    ..basically, if the video frame was a little tighter on her…we wouldn’t even be here.
    This conversation isn’t even remotely intelligent or logical…the reasons people are coming up with to hate on a 4yr old are totally biased. If anything, I saw talent and rhythm in a normal child which happened to stand out next to ANOTHER normal child. The anger should be for the people who act as if they haven’t seen dozens, if not hundreds of vids of children in this same situation doing whatever they want. This type of bias is ignorant along with some type of mental issue. This irrational thinking has become rampant..not only in the things people do but the numbers of people that agree no matter how stupid. A poster said they actually haven’t seen one berating comment?on a page with berating comments..what kind of ish is that.
    oh..and this new thing where trolls target black sites with ignorance as a form of superiority in their minds on select articles…smh

  • Reallytruly

    I haven’t seen one comment berating this child, stop starting trouble.

  • sunny d

    She seriously looks mildly retarded, Autism maybe? Or this could likely be learned behavior from her single parent, most likely “mother” or grandmother, household. You know how THOSE people are, not happy unless they are the loudest, grossly ridiculous, hey look at me, most obnoxious center of attention in the room behavior. Even if it is not good attention/behavior. I feel sorry for her future PUBLIC school teachers having to deal with her and her future lack of respect and bad attitude. Moreover, she will most likely be pregnant before she is old enough to drive. Yes, our “wonderful” progressive society, let us reward the little monkey. Glad I live in the burbs and my own children attend private schools where kids like the one causing all the commotion DO NOT ATTEND.

  • Drew

    So… y’all DIDN’T find the video to be highly embarrassing and that the girl was disruptive and hoppin’ -n- boppin’ around like a monkey (and not a good one like Bubbles)???


    There are tons of arguments predicated on the fact that the girl was 4 years old. Fair enough. But I’m guessing that the adorable, 2-year-old girl who was dancing with her mom and ended up on “Ellen” wouldn’t have behaved like that. Call it a hunch.

  • SandyKlo

    Dude, she is 4! Her impulse control isn’t anywhere near fully developed, nor should it be! This age should just be about learning, having experiences, and having fun! She obviously did all of these things. Parents these days are SO overly competitive and it’s so harmful to the children. When I was a kid, I would forget about the soccer game half the time and enlist a girl from the other team to pick flowers with me. No one yelled at me. The camera never stopped rolling. My parents ALWAYS told me I did a good job. I never felt that overbearing pressure that suffocates (with sports and things.) I went to my boyfriend’s little sister’s soccer game, and some of the parents appalled me. Most were NOT yelling supportive things, they were tell the kids what to do, yelling mean things to the other team, and yelling at their children when they made a mistake. WHY?! These are kids, what does it matter if they make a mistake, and how is it helpful to make them lose self confidence about it? Parents of an child athletes, ease the heck up. My boyfriend’s Mother and Step-Father try to always have someone attending every game and they will cheer their heads off at goals, and yell “It’s okay! Next time!” At any mistake, and the girls are amazing athletes, and love it. It is something positive for them, not negative.

  • alt-K

    How very sad! I watched this video just now and smiled to myself. If she were my child, I wouldn’t be disappointed. Give me a break! They’re four.

  • OneMiss

    Eeeeeeeeeeeeeekkkkkkkk…as much as I smiled, hollered laughing, and even shouted “I love it, I love it”…I can DEFINITELY see where the person on Jezebel is coming from. I may not agree with how she put it, but she is partly right. It was a choreographed routine. She obviously knew the choreography because even in the midst of her dancing her own way and making faces, she kept time with the other girls and occasionally did what they did. As someone who marches to the beat of my own rhythmic drum, I could appreciate what she did; but a child should have structure and discipline…even at 4…especially in an environment such as that where she is dancing in a routine with several other girls. There is going to be a star in every bunch, but don’t go complaining about someone hogging the spotlight and craving attention when they get older if you don’t correct the behavior in the beginning. Save it for the solo is kind of…well…right. I cringe even as I type this because I know I am in the minority and I really did think it was funny and cute…just doesn’t mean that it was appropriate.

  • Alexis

    I’m not going to lie this definitely wasn’t what I would call “cute” or “adorable”, definitely Hilarious, look at those faces she’s making! lol. People are only offended because she stole shine from all the “blond blue eyed angels” on stage. (rolls eyes) Im not gonna lie, I would only be pissed if I was trying to record my child and her class and there’s a big ol distraction in the video. She definitely stole the spotlight; you can hear everyone in the audience laughing. Lawd and she HAD to be the only black one. I thought it was fun to watch

  • ZLoves

    She’s just a baby. Who cares. I’m sure they rehearsed this and I’m sure anyone that knows this baby isn’t surprised. She seems to be VERY energetic. If she didnt perform the routine to a TEE at practice, what did they think she’d do on stage? Maybe she did do it for attention. That’s what children do. My mom knew I would act an A$$ at any opportunity because I had a lot of energy and I liked to make people laugh. My “ROUTINES” were only performed in front of family and friends lol

  • lady31

    Hilarious this made my Friday I had not seen this but my coworker and I laughed our buts off as she got crunk and was singing the song to the other girl next to her. I mean they are four and she evidently loves music and she seems to go hard at whatever she is doing which is a good personality trait all that passion will pay off. Because there was nothing good about that song but that baby was able to find the fun and excitement in it to give the performance of her little four year old career lol. loooooved it

  • Sunshinegirl

    As a dance mom myself, I thought this was pretty hilarious! She’s four and with dance recitals, ANYTHING can happen. They are “cute” at that age. While the children are aware that they have a routine, I certainly don’t attribute her outbursts to her thinking that she’s the “star” of the show or her parents grooming her to “stand-out” amongst the other dancers. At that age, dance class is fun and enjoyment. Now, if she was a bit older, that’s when it’s time to pull her to the side and say “hey, you can’t do that.” I think it’s those parents who vicariously live through their children that can’t find humor in this. There’s PLENTY of time for her to start honing her craft and inserting the seriousness into it that many dancers eventually develop. People just need to relax and allow children to enjoy their childhoods.

  • bnj

    I didn’t find it cute. Sorry. She seemed to have attention deficit disorder and it was just not funny.

    • Nia

      I don’t think it’s cute either. Not at all. At 4 you should know how to behave somewhat.

      • yeahme

        after about 1:00 minute it was a bit obnoxious. I realize she is only 4, but after a while it just wasn’t cute anymore.

  • Kit23

    This little dancer is just a baby! And if you’ve ever taught “baby ballerinas”, you are just happy no one peed on stage. Those comments about her being disruptive are ignorant and annoying and of course, racist. Many times, I’ve watched videos of little white kids cutting up during events and everyone thinks it so cute. BS! If it’s cute for a white kid, it’s cute for every kid. Those posting negative comments are just waiting for their white sheets to dry before putting them back on.

    How dare anyone post negative comments about a baby!

    • HUgrad13

      Amen. As a dance teacher, you are usually ecstatic that nobody peed or ran off because they were scared.

  • FromUR2UB

    She’s kinda talented. Her moves look like some I’ve seen Gregory HInes and Savion Glover perform. As least she’s inspired by the music and seems to enjoy performing. Her parents probably don’t have to push her out onto the stage, so they should feel proud that she’s not bashful and take care to nurture and develop that quality about her.

    • FromUR2UB

      Anyone who has ever watched small children perform at a recital knows that half the time, the kids don’t understand why they’re there or what they’re supposed to do. There will be at least one who stands on the stage and just stares into the audience, sucking a finger, and another who calls out to her mommy and daddiy, waving to them. It’s good the former Children’s Theatre Director is no longer in that business because she doesn’t seem to understand how small children behave. She would kill their spirit. The little girl wasn’t whining and throwing a tantrum; she was dancing, with enthusiam. A former Children’s Theatre Director should have appreciated that this seemed to be a fun experience for the child.

  • stewie

    The simple fact is; you don’t get to be an individual human being if you are black and all your behavior will be strictly condemned, pathologized and punished. Even if you are a cute little black girl who is just being a little bit energetic. Not to mention, She was doing the choreography, while she gets off track some times due to her excitement, she does always go back to the choreography.

    Beyond the racial aspect of this, this is how adults steal the joy and creativity children are born with, in favor of conformity.

  • ScriptTease

    Had that been a little White Girl, then that Jezebel comment would’ve been a little different, “Cute” Even. Black Women, they’re coming after us before puberty.

  • YoNess

    The video made me so happy after a very stressful day. To haters: to the defiled, everything is defiled!

  • shehiplocki

    OMG, that was the cutest little routine ever!! I don’t care what they have to say that little lady stole the show, she is a star in the making! Sweet!

  • Alexandrea Desteny Gray-Corujo

    People forget the fun in everything. As a former dancer it was disheartening that everyone was so focused on perfection and not the love of dance. I sucked at tap it’s hard as crap so anyone who can do it KUDOS. I also noticed that even though she strayed from choreography she tapped with rhythm

  • cryssi

    Anybody who has ever watched Toddlers & Tiaras might know what tinker tea is, basically crack sugar and redbull for children, might think this little tapper had some lol.

    She was precious, we have a similar little girl at my church in the childrens choir, and nobody tells her to stop. We love it, she’s a little kid, kids are meant to be free spirited, not robots.

    The other little girls were cute too.

  • hollyw

    Yeeeah…first I’d say, NEVER READ COMMENTS ON YAHOO! No, seriously; EVER.

    Secondly, while she was quite adorable, I must admit…I can’t deny that a liiittle teeny part of me winced in that she was the ONLY Black kid there, and also the ONLY one acting out. Me, personally, as a child behavioral therapist lol…this just screams ADHD. My mind immediately went to aaall the classes she took before this, where she prob did the same thing, which is prob why none of the other girls were fazed by it. So while I can def understand where that Jezebel “choreographer mother”, i.e. stage mom, is talking about, I still whole-heartedly disagree that w/ her (probably racist) take on it.

    Just about every other 4 year-old had an attention deficit. She improved; get over it. The crowd obviously didn’t mind!!

    • FullCircle

      You do realize that’s a made up diagnosis right? I would never sit and place that stigma on her, maybe just maybe she’s creative and expressive. People and the crazy labels all because the child isn’t conforming to some rigid standards as all the others. Cringe all you want, but I encourage children to be unique while respectful.

      • hollyw

        As someone with a degree in child clinical psych, I’d obviously disagree with you. It has nothing to do with creativity, but the ability to stand still and/or comprehend and follow directions, a routine, etc. The ability to understand WHEN it’s appropriate to improvise, and when it is not.

        How do you know any of those other girls are not creative? Just b/c they followed the routine?? It’s much more likely that they just were better at knowing and/or following the routine.

        • Nhea

          Save a few seconds in the beginning, the camera was zoomed tightly onto about three girls, so we don’t know if she was the only one who acted out. Your clinical degree should have taught you that a two minute video of a preschooler you never met or interacted with is not nearly enough of a baseline to throw any sort of fake diagnosis at her. Your mind immediately went to aaall the classes you KNOW she took before this, where you assumed how she behaved, and you do what a bunch of other people without the degree have done and labeled this child. I’m glad you take issue with the Jezebel comment, but there is room for you to examine your own thinking.

          • hollyw

            Since I only made a brief correlation based off what I encounter daily in my field (not a diagnosis or baseline assessment) based on what I could see from a two minute video on a lifestyle website, I see absolutely no need to re-examine my opinion. It seems you weighed it even more heavily than I had.
            What I find ironic, however, is your suggestion for me to use introspection when you led with the assumption of ADHD being a “fake diagnosis”, which severely limits your ability to provide anything meaningful or unbiased to discussion. Please take your own advice.

            • Nhea

              -_- I didn’t say ADHD is fake.I was saying YOUR diagnosis was fake. I said it was fake because of everything I said before that about anyone (even the best of professionals) not being able to come to any firm conclusion off a short video, “correlation” or not. If anyone tried to label my child on a public forum with such flimsy evidence, I’d rightfully defend her just as I’m defending the labeling of this child from someone who should know better. That is my only point, and I certainly stand behind it.

              • hollyw

                Good for you, but at the end of the day, reading comprehension is key. I know you wish I had given an actual diagnosis instead of an opinion to make your own platform stronger to stand on, but it still is, in fact, a strawman.
                What you really seem upset about is my opinion that this behavior is abnormal, which you apparently (and vehemently) disagree with, and that is fine. It’s the internet; people disagree. However, you can continue to rant at your will at people in forums, but if you were that concerned with their opinions (if it were my child, I obviously would not be), then you’d be better off directing this energy towards your wayward child, not strangers you have absolutely no control over. With that, I bid you adieu on this 9-month old topic.

                • Nhea

                  *Sigh* Reading comprehension is ABSOLUTELY key. I can “seem” anything to you, but what I actually said was that your supposition, correlation, whatever-word-you-want-to-describe-your-labeling, was worth as much as any armchair psychiatrist on the internet–meaning because you don’t know anything about this girl, you don’t know anything about this girl. You haven’t evaluated her properly, you haven’t consulted, you have done anything more meaningful than anyone else on the yahoo forums, so your opinion isn’t worth anything just because you appealed to your own authority. Why bring up your degree if you can’t apply it? Oh, and the fact that this is 9 months old doesn’t make it any less valid. If you want to continue to misuse you credentials on the internet, don’t be surprised when people call you on it.

  • Mividaloca101

    She’s 4, and this was not Broadway. Sorry but I loved it!

  • Dee

    These uptight conservative people need to realize is that she’s 4, not 14, she’s still young and I’m sure she didn’t mean to steal the spotlight from the other dancers. Also for those who said racist stuff is even worse! I have 2 children who has been 4 before and loved to be the center of attention, now they’re 9 and 13 and know better. They even watched the video with me and just like me, they thought it was cute.

  • She’s four for crying out loud. Build a bridge and get over it.

  • Tamaika Jones

    That baby was having a good time! She was the STAR of that performance! 1 is born everyday!

  • Jan King

    she had a lot more energy than the rest of the girls #ithappens #she’sachild

    • Me

      Yeah, but I did think she might have ADHD! LOL

  • MarriedMomOf2

    Yahoo lets people say racist crap which is why I don’t even go on that site anymore. Plus I think what that little girl did is cute and laughed with her.

  • rita

    This site so often focuses on the negative! I saw this on HuffPo, thought it was cute, and most of the comments there were positive, with people ganging up on the handful of people who were critical.

    • stewie

      bullllshyt, The top comments on huff-post are all negative and they even daignosed her with ” impulse control and hyperactivity, perhaps she has ADHD or the early signs of Tourette’s”.

      • Alexis

        lol Tourette’s, they wrong for that

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