Boys in Ballet

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Ballet is a type of art that takes years to perfect. One popular ballet is Swan Lake composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky in 1875. First performed in Moscow, Russia, this ballet was initially a failure, however, as the years passed this piece is arguably one of the most recognized and beloved performances worldwide. Ballet is in fact female dominated but we tend to look over those dancers who are male. Male dancers are taken as a joke for those who aren’t well informed in the world of musical art. Men studying ballet tend to be ridiculed by the majority of society because it is not seen as “manly” and will have their sexuality questioned, unlike their female counterparts who are often praised for their work.

Recently co-anchor for ABC’s Good Morning America (GMA), Lara Spencer, was in a scandal for laughing on television when it was stated that six-year-old British Prince George takes ballet as part as of his extracurriculars. According to nytimes.com Spencer stated, “Prince William says George absolutely loves ballet,” she said, looking mystified while she stifled laughter. “I have news for you, Prince William. We’ll see how long that lasts.” Her statement was seen by millions, and wasn’t well received and many male dancers took offence to what Spencer had said. Her laughter alone said a thousand words, and was very insensitive to those who have been dancing for some years. Three hundred dancers showed up to the set of GMA in New York Times Square led by “So You Think You Can Dance” dancer Travis Wall in response to Spencer’s statement. Wall taught a class in ballet to show that men dance too and gave a positive light for male dancers. Spencer lives in New York, which is even more of a shock because New York is known for Broadway and its theatrical musicals and plays. Many of these plays have roles that have men dancing and singing.

Spencer has since apologized for her statements, but it worries many about the double standard of boys in ballet. Prince George should have been praised for doing something out of the “gender-norm.” According to an article written by Scott Gormley on huffpost.com he states that, “Most boys who dance ballet face tremendous resistance from their families, from their friends and from society at large.” According to Doug Risner, a Professor of Dance at Wayne State University in Detroit, only 32% of male dancers say their fathers support them dancing. Risner’s research shows that mothers play a critical role in their son’s initial exposure to dance and then in supporting their dance training. But most boys who dance do so without the support of their fathers. Male children aren’t receiving the same support from their loved ones, especially with their fathers who fear their son might be gay and disown their child based on that sole purpose. The negative backlash from their peers can result in them quitting, reducing the percentage of males in dance to just ten percent. The article then goes into detail how Americans have this perception that boys should be in team jerseys and taking hits. However, if people would just take the time and research the facts they would know that many athletes such as football players take ballet as a way to improve themselves and their skills. Taking ballet can improve your balance as well as strengthen your knees, legs and ankles.

For some reason, performing arts and choir and dance, is stereotyped to be for females. It’s unfair that men have to go through years of assault and bullying just because they’re doing something that they love.

Ariana Forby is a Junior Broadcast/Mass Communications major from Las Vegas, Nevada. She will be a contributor to The Campus Chronicle for the 2020-2021 school year.

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