#BoysDanceToo

On august 23rd, Lara Spencer, host of “Good Morning America”, made a comment about 6-year-old Prince George wanting to take a ballet class in school. Although she has since apologized, her comment ignited a movement among dancers using the hashtag #boysdancetoo on social media. "Details of George's curriculum have been released, making us all really happy we don't have to do homework anymore," she said. "In addition to the usual first or second-grade things like math, science and history, the future king of England will be putting down the Play-Doh to take on religious studies, computer programming, poetry and ballet, among other things.”

As a dancer (I was also a dance teacher), I can assure the numerous benefits dance training has for everyone, be it for their physical, mental or emotional health.

Movement and rhythm comes naturally, especially to kids, so dancing is a way of allowing them to express themselves and learn the language of movement. Dance imparts discipline, self-confidence, responsibility and so many other values that translate to different areas in life, although one of the most important values learned through dance is empathy.

The talk show host held back a laugh when she mentioned the word “ballet.” She didn’t care to make the rude, upsetting comments and make a “joke” out of it. How can a grown woman bully a 6-year-old on national television? And in return get laughter and applause from the audience and other hosts? This is bullying, and some may take it as motivation to prove detractors wrong, but others won't.

Although it didn’t seem like the comments were intentionally meant to hurt anyone, they were very hurtful to the dance community.

A study by dance sociologist Doug Risner said that 93 percent of boys who study dance have reported “teasing and name calling,” and 68 percent experienced “verbal or physical harassment.” Eleven percent said they were victims of physical harm because they are boys who study dance.

This message represents the hateful and irrational way people perceive boys who dance. It was wrong. Lara Spencer promoted unhealthy and irrational gender roles. No one should be mocked and laughed at for doing what they love.

Dance stars have since shared their support for Prince George on social media and demanded an apology from Lara Spencer. She apologized on the show and on her social media accounts by saying:

My sincere apologies for an insensitive comment I made in pop news yesterday. From ballet to anything one wants to explore in life, I say GO FOR IT. I fully believe we should all be free to pursue our passions. Go climb your mountain-and love every minute of it.

 

 

It's amazing how much support there is on social media for the dance community and, although things are improving, there are still people that don’t have inclusive beliefs and who are harder to educate about male dancers. 300 dancers even went to a class in front of the “Good Morning America” studio in Times Square led by dancer and choreographer Travis Wall to show support for the community.

Take a look at some lovely IG posts by dancers.

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

I saw a clip from @goodmorningamerica this morning and I was pretty surprised by the tone of some comments towards dance. My initial response was disappointment. For a brief moment it brought up old unpleasant memories of being mocked and laughed at for being a boy who danced. Fortunately that feeling dissipated quickly in knowing that the climate of dance, especially for young men in this generation is thriving more than ever, celebrated and appreciated . A young boy training in an athletic art form that requires an insane amount of discipline, strength, agility, flexibility, speed, dedication, awareness of mind, body, soul and creativity doesn’t seem like something to laugh about . I understand that comments like the one made here on television were probably light hearted and just a little banter. I get it. I know everyone at gma including @lara.spencer and I’m sure the intention wasn’t to be hurtful. But I also just think we are in a new era and time, especially for dance and it’s perception. The tone and mockery towards dance is just dated, old and not relevant anymore. Those who mock don’t understand. I’m proud to be a dancer and I strongly encourage any, who would like to try. So if there are any young kids out there who have a passion to pursue dance, don’t be discouraged by those who might laugh or make fun, tease or taunt. Follow your passion, take a chance on yourself and remember, that when you are courageous enough to listen to your inner voice rather than the voices (that only you can allow) to tear you down, you will always win. Follow your bliss and you will always have the last laugh:) Nothing but love and encouragement 🙏🏼#dance #encourage #create #dontHate #community

A post shared by Derek Hough (@derekhough) on

 

 

 

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Stigmas exist in our society that not only lead to bullying, but keep children from following their dreams. The discipline, focus, strength, artistry, and commitment learned from ballet is unparalleled. Adults in the public eye should be encouraging children to follow their dreams, not shaming them out of them. • Our own TWB dancer Corey Landolt shares his story of how he was bullied as a young boy studying ballet. Let's stop the cycle. • “I started taking ballet when I was five years old in south Jersey. The bullying wasn't bad then, but as I got older it became pretty unbearable. And it's all due to gender stereotypes and toxic masculinity, which that woman (@lara.spencer) is helping to perpetuate. I was called awful three and four letter names on a daily basis from the ages of 11 to 14 or so. I was pretty small and got beat up a couple of times. Just for dancing ballet. Because it's seen as something only girls do. Boys should be playing sports and the arts are for girls. This is the kind of thinking that's kept the US behind Europe in the arts for decades. The bullying didn't stop until one day when I was 14. I'd had enough from the wrestling team captain. He pushed my head into a locker and I snapped and beat him up. We became friends after, but I shouldn't have had to beat up a kid to prove my worth and masculinity. It's a shame." • Thank you for sharing your story @coreyjlandolt 💙 • #wakeuplara #shameongma #boysdoballet #followyourdreams #danceisforeveryone • 📸 by @procopiophoto

A post shared by The Washington Ballet (@thewashingtonballet) on

Dance is beautiful, artistic, athletic and challenging and I'm proud to be a dancer. No one should laugh because a kid loves doing it, they should try instead to see beyond the notions of masculinity and appreciate it.