Hey, Lara Spencer, dance is for EVERYONE!
Controversy surrounded the Good Morning America host after her tone-deaf reaction to Prince George’s upcoming ballet lessons. During a short segment on GMA, Spencer listed the wide range of subjects the prince would be immersing himself in this school year, which included him taking ballet classes. Her reactionary response was nothing short of insensitive, dismissive and most of all irresponsible. She laughed. She laughed at a boy for wanting to take dance class. Her unacceptable comments shook the dance world and as a community we let our voices be heard. Discrimination of any kind, gender included, is unacceptable in our field. Dance is for everyone!
Lara Spencer has since publicly apologized to the dance community, in particular to the boys and men who devote their lives to such a physically and mentally demanding yet beautiful art form.
I cringed as I watched the clip of grown adults bullying a 6-year-old boy on national television. Furthermore, as a male dancer I felt personally attacked by these irresponsible reactions. These reactions are irresponsible because they perpetuate the notion that dance is exclusively feminine, therefore a field that men and boys simply cannot belong to.
As a young boy I was always drawn to movement. I enjoyed dancing socially with family and friends. I participated in various performances in elementary school. On stage, I felt at home. I wanted to dance. I wanted to be a dancer! But I was held back by a misogynistic society that deemed it inappropriate for me to use movement as a means of personal expression. Therefore, I boxed up that little dream and kept it locked away for many years. At eighteen I took my first ever modern dance class and it changed my existence. I had waited my whole life to explore an art form that I was made to think wasn’t for me. As a child and through my adolescent years I was scared that I’d be made fun of for wanting to pursue my passion. Male dancers experience bullying all the time and many young boys are dissuaded from continuing dance training fearing a lifetime of ridicule. This is unacceptable.
Taking my very first modern dance class propelled me into getting accepted into Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University where I earned my BFA in Dance Performance. I had fallen in love with dance and wanted to share that love with younger generations so I went back to school and earned a Master in Dance Education.
I am currently a proud dance educator teaching public school children from preschool to eighth grade and now more than ever I believe that dance is an inclusive field. We all belong.
Dance is not just an aesthetically beautiful art form either; it brings with it a multitude of benefits for boys and girls alike. Dance encourages self-expression and boosts self-confidence, increases athleticism and flexibility, improves gross motor skills, balance and coordination. Dance promotes critical thinking and problem solving, acceptance and love. Dance gave me purpose, it provides personal fulfillment! Dance is for everyone. Dance is for every child, and yes #BoysDanceToo !