The Root: There's a Fine Line between 'Cute' and 'Cutting Up'

Screen Shot 2013-11-05 at 9.23.54 AMPerhaps you’re one of the more than 2 million people who have watched the latest viral video of a 4-year-old dancing her heart at a recital. The video was uploaded in June, but it’s only recently become a hit with several news outlets, including the New York Daily News, the Daily Mail and Yahoo covering the story in the last week.  The video features a chorus line of toddlers doing their adorable best as they tap dance to “Broadway Baby” from the musical Follies, but one child, a little black girl, adds some “oomph!” to her routine. The camera zooms in as she enthusiastically ad-libs some extra dance moves, belts out the chorus and seems to encourage another dancer to perk up and be noticed as the audience laughs and cheers at the antics.   News outlets reporting the story have praised the child as “delightful,” “adorable” and “unbearably cute,” and most commenters agreed. “She is the absolute cutest!!” wrote a YouTube commenter. “I watch the video of her tapping [to] ‘Broadway Baby’ when I'm having a bad day. She makes me happy.”

Other commenters (like me) found the kid to be button-cute but were not amused by her spotlight-stealing performance. “While I must admit this was funny to me,” a woman commented on Yahoo, “I would have been ticked off if my kid was up there.”

This isn’t the popular opinion, but I’ll say it anyway: I cringed watching the video as I was procrastinating on Facebook. If I had done this as child, my parents would have frowned at my shenanigans if they were in the audience. My mother might have gone as far as walking onto the stage to give me a “talkin to” in my ear—as she did on more than one occasion when I was too chatty with my friends in the church choir. In the House of Lucas, the best-case off-stage consequence to a performance such as the one shown in the video would have been a speech similar to the one Olivia Pope’s father meted out in the Season 3 Scandal premiere, about how black girls have to be twice as good to get half as far. The worst-case scenario would have been some biblical form of discipline where rods are not spared.

My parents are obviously old-school. And I must be slowly turning into my mother because I didn’t find this dance all that funny. There’s nothing wrong with anyone being energetic or silly or for wanting attention, even adults. But a chorus line is a group activity where the whole point is to move in unison with the group—or as close to unison as possible. It’s not the time for an A Star Is Born moment. I would have been, let’s say, less than pleased, that my kid didn’t follow the instructions. There are times and places to rage against the machine. A dance recital isn’t one of them.

Read more: here