In a corner of the Seymour Centre last November, a mother pinches her child’s nose while she bathes her in a mist of industrial-strength hairspray. “Okay, honey, go get ‘em,” she says as her child disappears into a crowd of eager theatre patrons.
She re-emerges seconds later, waist-high, in front of a gentleman waiting at the bar. “Hi! My name is Haley. I’m seven. Will you follow me on Facebook?”
I watch as, without hesitation, Haley jerks her seven-year-old leg up into the air, swivels it, and rests it behind the crook of her neck. The man is suitably impressed and takes down her name, presumably to ‘like’ her on Facebook later.
This all took place in the twenty-minute interval of the RG Dance spectacular, RGXLR8. I had just witnessed the courting ritual that Haley and the 50 other dancers are all too well-versed in. RG Dance promises to turn these little girls into stars by not only rendering them hyper-flexible and toned, but also by making them into social media climbers.
I’m informed later by a self-proclaimed “dance mum” that the girls with the most followers on Instagram and the most ‘likes’ on Facebook by Christmas will secure themselves the opportunity—for a fee—to tour the US with the dance company. Competition is fierce. The leading dancer, she tells me, has over 3 000 Facebook ‘likes’.
While neither you nor I may have ever heard of them, RG Dance have a devoted web following of over 33 000 people in the US and Australia. Though they are outsiders to the professional dance industry in Australia, the dancers believe that they are truly stars in the making.
Tickets to the performances are not cheap, ranging from $30-$60 each. For $60, the V.I.P. package gets you premium seats, along with the coveted opportunity to meet the ‘stars’ after the show, take photos with them, and grab their autographs. The demand for these tickets is high. After the show, 30 odd people are led to stage door as “V.I.P.s”. Many are mums with their children, toting plastic cameras, but some of the excited fans are older men and women who are there alone, clasping photos of their favorite starlets for autographs in eager excitement.
RG Dance is relatively new and is breaking into a market full of well-established and world-renowned names. To their credit, the dancers love the attention, the ‘fame’ and when asked, they offer only earnest praise of the studio. But what happens after RG? There is only so much room at the top.