What A Dance Community Can Teach Us About The Florida School Shooting

Ballerinas. Photo by Evgen Romanen

Like you, my heart is broken by yet another U.S. school shooting. You may not think that a dance blog is the place to say that, or reflect on thoughts and observations about school murders, but I’d say you’re wrong. 

Jamie Guttenberg was a 14 year old dance student in Florida who had her whole, wonderful life ahead of her until it was taken from her by a man with a gun. 

There’s no shortage of articles and books published about why school shootings have been on the rise, and I’m certainly no expert on the subject, but here’s what I see: I see young men who are committing these crimes because they’re hurting and feel they have no outlet to express the deep isolation they feel.

You may think that’s too rainbow-y and simplistic, but I don’t think anyone can deny that America, and Americans are suffering badly from not coming together, not finding connection, and isolating ourselves from others, our communities, and our own inner wisdom that speaks to us and whispers ‘something’s wrong’.

Guns and schools have both been around for centuries, yet not until the past 20 years have we seen school shootings. Why? There have always been kids who didn’t fit in, were labeled ‘misfits’, and considered outcasts; why in the 1920’s, 30’s 40’s didn’t they bring weapons to school?

Because community still existed. If a kid was having a hard time, parents sent him to an aunt, an uncle, a friend. They helped him find a job, or a passion or a trade that he could engage in. His community rallied around him and would. not. let. him. give. up.

Much like our dance school and dance communities do. Jamie’s dance school, Dance Theater, isn’t unlike dance schools all over the country that bring young people together to bond over a love of dance.

Beyond the weekly classes, competitions, and performances, the communities we form in dance become webs that link us to each other, to our purpose, to a greater call to show up for dance class, and each other. To encourage, support, and love each other.

Dancers all around the states will be wearing orange ribbons to honor Jamie (orange was her favorite color), and while that big-hearted and loving tribute gives me chills, it’s not enough. This country HAS to do better and stop letting our young people die at the hands of young men who have too few outlets to reach out for support.

Dance in your communities. Play sports in your communities. Do anything in your community, but if you have one, give thanks, and ask yourself what you can do to bring the community to those that don’t have one. This may not be THE answer, but it is ONE answer.

Rest in peace sweet Jamie. I know you’re dancing through the Universe, now, and forever.

By Katrena Cohea