With the great news that Prince George is starting ballet class, the gender inequality of dance is still a burning issue but one which appears to be slowly changing as the dance industry tries its hardest to encourage boys to dance.
Where are all the boys?
Dance is such a physical activity requiring great strength and skill, building up muscle and body strength far quicker than many other sports. Given that it is so important to lads these days looking to improve themselves by spending hours in the gym,why can’t we encourage them to get away from the boring gym and into the dance studio? We all know that it’s just a question of perception – boys look cool in gym gear with a sweat on but why can’t the same boy see that it’s just as cool to be in the studio partnering the girls and effortlessly performing a staggering number of grand jetés, switch leaps, and barrel turns.
So here are some simple suggestions that may just help encourage boys to give dance a go…
1. STUDIO SPACE
Does your dance studio look like a place that boys would want to venture into?. Maybe the pink walls, fluffy cushions and flashes of sparkle aren’t what boys are used to – can you make one studio a little more gender neutral with bright contemporary décor and male dance images on the walls to inspire them.
2. HEROS AND HEROINES
Do you have beginner classes that will be attractive to both girls and boys – we all know we need to catch them young so try and theme a class towards boys as well as girls – heroes and heroines, woodland animals or dragons and princesses -try to capture their imagination as well as the more usual fairies and flowers themes that are targetted towards the girls.
3. DANCE IS NOT FOR WIMPS
Promote your dance school in more traditional male locations. Many cricket players train in ballet to help them become more agile and tennis players often attribute their nimble footwork to ballet technique. Ensure your advertising is focussed toward both genders so boys don’t feel intimidated at the outset.
4. ROLE MODELS
Offer classes that sound appealing to boys. Hip-hop, tumbling, capoeira, jazz and acro all offer physical workouts that boys will enjoy. A male dance teacher may make all the difference – having a cool role model to look up to will make boys see that it’s not such a bad idea to dance. If you don’t have a male teacher, consider asking a senior boy to lead class to encourage the younger boys. Projects such as LBBS and the RAD Project B are engaging boys, giving them a positive message that dance is exciting and adventurous and will help destroy any feelings of isolation and embarrassment.
5. DANCE KIT
Introduce a male uniform that boys will not feel self-conscious wearing – baggy T Shirts and track suit trousers may help those that are put off by the more traditional regulation uniform. IDS now offer a range of dance clothes and uniforms specifically designed for the male dancer and the costume range for boys has been extended. Boys are now modelling some of the unisex items meaning there are more alternatives for them to pick from in the IDS range. Don’t forget to address the male under garments with boys when they get to about 10 or 11 so they dont get to the stage where they feel inhibited to ask. Dance belts are an unknown entity to younger males so get a man to show them what they are for and take the mystery away.
All of these ideas may seem pretty basic but just a little pre-planning and minor adjustments to your classes may make a big difference to boys. Ballet offers so much more than just a potential future career – we all know the benefits of dance: cultural, social, fitness, discipline and health – we just need to make it our mission to convince the boys!
Check out the new IDS boy’s dancewear. We have introduced an RAD Discovering Repertoire Range in line with their new programme for the older dancer and a new First Position Dancewear collection.