We’ve all heard the stories about boys being picked on for choosing dance over baseball and spending hours in the studio instead of hours on the field. Even incredibly talented professional dancers like Showstopper’s Aaron Burr faced those same issues as a young dancer. Despite the strength and talent that male dancers often bring to the dance world, it is still seen as something to be ashamed of. Because of this, many young male dancers may give up on dance to try to fit in with their non-dance friends. It is important to support male dancers of any age and any level of talent. Dance is not a girls’ sport or a boys’ sport. Dance is an everyone sport. But that can be hard to believe for boys who have friends telling them the opposite.
A dancer often finds himself at home in one genre or another as they grow and expand their skills. When you introduce a male dancer to dance, it can be helpful to show them that no matter what genre he loves the most, that every genre has male dancers that are loved, appreciated, and looked up to for what they do. For instance, Peace Love Hip Hop dancer and teacher Marcus Payne finds that the hip hop community is very welcoming of male dancers causing male dancers of all ages to find their place in the genre.
If a young dancer comes to you asking why there are so few boys in his class, show him how large the dance community is and how many boys just like him are finding their places in their favorite genres.
One of the most important things a young artist has is a role model to keep them working toward their goals even when things are difficult. Boys may feel like it is harder to find these role models because many of the names you hear floating around are female. Take time to show your entire class (not just the boys!) the incredible things that male dancers, choreographers, and instructors bring to the table! Who knows? You might just help your students find their new favorite dancer or their next role model.
With the wide reaches of “Dancestagram” and social media in general, we find ourselves obsessing weekly over #tutuTuesday and #stretchSaturday. Why not use your studio’s Instagram to spread even more dance love for your male dancers? Try a weekly post for #MaleDancerMonday (or come up with your own fantastic hashtag!) that features male talent across the dance world in different genres and professions from hip hop dancers to choreographers. If your dancers follow you, they will see it and realize that they are not alone!