“My son loves dancing but he won’t go to a dance class?”
As a dance teacher, this is what I hear the most from parents, frustrated because they want to provide an outlet for their son to learn some new skills doing something he enjoys.
I aim to make Dazzles dance classes an active, non-gender, athletic and fresh experience for everyone. But peer pressure and pre-conceptions from such a young age are just too hard to battle against. As most dance clubs are full of girls they, therefore, cater to the majority who attend, influencing the dance styles, music and costume choices. I have been guilty of this in the past. Most boys will simply not walk through the door when they see a blur of pink and Little Mix blaring from the music system!
After years of trying to persuade boys to join my classes, I now realise that boys need their own space to express what they feel, to move differently, to dance where and how boys want to with their own energy and dynamic. Just as we see the benefits of girls training and competing separately in sport, boys also need their own space to explore dance. Get them on a football pitch or a park, use props such as basketballs, swords or scooters.
Over the years there have been inspirations and role models who have made it acceptable, accessible and cool for boys and men to dance, Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Billy Elliott, Diversity, George Sampson and Strictly Come Dancing. Boys love the competition, the judges, the creativity, the costumes and the dancing on Strictly! But they also see the skill, the physical strength, the competitive spirit and the respect the men gain.
“Dance is a physical and athletic activity requiring great skill, strength, and agility. Sounds like an ideal fit for energetic boys… so where are they?? In general, the current perception is that dance is not a “manly” activity. Men who dance must be in top physical form but the beauty and elegance masks the blood, sweat, and tears it seems we like to see from men in our culture. Therefore, the grittier athletic activities are favoured for boys, while dance is considered a better pursuit for girls. But to a young boy or teen pursuing dance, the road is often anything but simple.”
Nichelle Suzanne owner/editor of Dance Advantage.www.danceadvantage.net
I came across an inspiring project ‘BoysDancing’, a boys dance school set up in Warwickshire. They create dance opportunities for boys of all abilities, all backgrounds and from all communities thereby recognising, reflecting and celebrating the rich diversity of the West Midlands.
“The aim of the ‘BoysDancing’ project is to prove to boys that dance is exciting, engaging, fun and challenging. We want to show that dance is a great mix of spontaneous physical and mental activity – it requires physical strength like in sport and it provides a great workout for the mind.” www.boysdancing.org/stories
To see boys from age 8-18 dancing expressively with freedom and no fear of judging is so positive, for the boys they are and for the men they will become.
If your school would be interested in trialling or setting up a Boys Dance Club contact Sarah at Dazzle.