However, I had a couple of interactions with parents that left me feeling, well, frustrated. A little boy walked up to my stand, looked around at the information packets and candy (believe me, he was way more interested in the candy), and then his mother came running up behind him. "No, no!" she said. "Dancing is only for girls." While I tried to bite my tongue, I just couldn't. I told her no, that dancing is for both boys and girls. I then asked her "how do you think ballerinas get lifted or partnered?" She didn't respond, but I think that's probably because she had expected me to back her up and tell her son that dancing isn't intended for little boys.
I've noticed that this is becoming a growing phenomenon - boys don't want to take dance lessons because adults are telling them that it's effeminate and "just for girls." Well, it's not. And no - not all male dancers identify as being gay. And no - dancing does not "make" you gay. These are all statements that I have heard throughout my dance career. What most people don't realize is that dancing benefits girls AND boys in a number of ways, and is immensely helpful for boys who play sports. Here is a list of benefits of dance for both genders:
- gross motor skill development
- muscle development
- strength and endurance
It is also important for people to note that a number of professional male athletes take dance lessons. Steelers nose tackle Steve McLendon has been quoted as saying that "ballet is harder than anything else [he does]." He goes on to say that ballet has helped to strengthen his knees, ankles, and feet and has helped him to avoid injury. Other professional athletes have begun taking ballet as well, including pros in baseball and basketball. Also, a number of professional sports teams have begun including ballet, yoga, and pilates in their workout regimen.
If your son or a boy you know is interested in taking dance lessons but you are afraid of what other people might say, please take a moment to Google ballet and NFL players. It is our job as adults to change this stereotype and let boys know that dance is not just for girls.