Polls before post-amble, if you please:
Please confirm or deny:
As a child, I tended to disapprove (or, even now, I tend to disapprove) of my parents singing and/or dancing.
I have a long-standing peeve with the world that, at least in my experience, those who sing or dance (or act, or play an instrument) are often assumed to be doing so by way of performance for the benefit of those who witness the art; accordingly, it is considered acceptable to judge those who engage in art and it is considered acceptable to critique or unfavourably judge their performances. Accordingly, there are many who will not engage in such artistic activities for fear of being judged, which is very sad. I think the world would be a little brighter if people really would sing and dance as if nobody were watching. Doing so when nobody is watching is an excellent way of doing this in practice.
At one level, it's pleasant to see singing and dancing attain a higher profile on TV at the moment, not that I tend to watch the shows in question; conversely, I fear that the shows reinforce the acceptability of judging the performances and the principle of negative entertainment to be gained from mocking performances considered poor. Similarly, this gives me a principle by which to reconsider my strongly favourable stance towards the likes of Dance Dance Revolution and Singstar; surely playing and, by the context of the game, failing is to be preferred to not playing at all?
There has recently been considerable controversy about the continued performance of one participant in Strictly Come Dancing, the British original version of the Dancing with the Stars format; John Sergeant - while, I agree, markedly less accomplished than his rivals - is really not at all bad a dancer. His cha-cha-cha which earned 12/40 seemed to me to be comparable with the standard that I might have achieved as an 11-year-old having danced for an hour a week for two or three years. Considering he's only been doing it for one week, that's pretty damn good. (It's far from being as good as you would expect from someone who took part on their show to back up their claims of being an excellent dancer, but that's not necessarily the case regarding John Sergeant's participation in the show.) John Sergeant's performance compares very favourably with the likes of, say, David Dickinson.
There do seem to me to be some definite steps in the right direction. When you engage in a choir, or at least a singalong, or take part in a ceilidh (compare with contra dancing in the US, I believe, though I may be wrong) then at least there is some agreement as to the goal for which you're all headed, or at least a sense that you're all on the same team. Some won't sing or dance even in explicitly non-judgmental co-operative performances for fear of being criticised, which is not as joyful as it could be. One of the things that most delights me about baseball is the wide acceptance of the tradition that everyone sings the same song - with the possible exception of the identity of the team for whom we root, root, root - in the seventh inning stretch; I love reading about other sporting crowds similarly singing and chanting and reflecting the play of the sport in their reaction, even if the usual standard of this is, frequently, rudimentary and base. (Not that that's necessarily a bad thing!) When this is done wittily then it's a remarkable performance, and spontanaeity infecting thousands or tens of thousands to sing with one voice is a force of nature. The power of, say, a charismatic church becomes clear.
All this comes before we consider the many other artistic types of endeavours that exist: writing, drawing, artifice, handicrafts and comedy probably follow along similar lines, though there may well be boundary cases. (Comedy possibly has most potential, of these, to provide a disbenefit when performed badly.) This is probably the point at which my old contention that keeping a public LJ is, at least in part, performance art of a sort comes back to bite me!