Male Dancers: Stars or Social Oddities?
By Cynthia Ibanez
Dance (ballet specifically) is one of the few female dominated sports, however, it was not always like this. In the 15th and 16th centuries only males were allowed to do ballet in royal and renaissance courts. As the art progressed, it became largely dominated by women, however, males are still a vital part of ballet. Society, however, does not always see this as the norm, and sometimes choose to ridicule it.
Recently, Prince William’s son, George, began taking ballet classes which he said he loved. Lara Spencer, a host of popular morning show “Good Morning America” poked fun at his choices. She said, “I have news for you Prince William, we’ll see how long that lasts,” laughing at her insensitive comment towards the royal 6 year old. Not long after this, the dance world erupted. Countless dancers, male and female of all ages, were offended at the insult she had made towards their culture.
Several things were done in protest to Spencer’s comment. The next morning, the Broadway cast of musical “Cher”, consisting of many male dancers, practiced ballet in Times Square, just outside of GMA’s studio. Taking to social media, dancers began to protest using the hashtag ‘boys dance too’. Spencer apologized via Instagram saying, “From ballet, to anything one wants to explore in life, I say GO FOR IT.” Even after apologizing, she didn’t fully understand why the dance community was so upset about her comments. Not only were they inappropriate but they were derogatory of the art form that values male participation. Ballet simply would not be the same without males. One of the most renowned dancers ever, Mikhail Baryshnikov, was a male who brought an entirely new type of talent to ballet.He was a part of the New York City Ballet and later, a principal dancer for the American Ballet Theatre where he later became a choreographer and artistic director.
At Cal High, we have the largest dance program in the district and the boys in our program who are not reluctant to try new things are such an important part of the program. Logan Hanamure says the following about his time in dance: “It’s fun although challenging sometimes. It’s definitely worth the work even though other guys make fun of me.” Angel Vences who no longer dances but still has fond memories, adds by saying, “Dance is great, but the pressures of being more masculine is always something on my mind.” The fact that they are worried about what others think about their decision to do something they enjoy is an example of how close minded people, like Lara Spencer, can be. Dance was never made with gender rules- if you love to dance, you love it, it doesn’t matter who you are. All dancers are athletes; although that is a debate for another time.
I hope that if you had preconceptions about male dancers up to this point that you at least reconsider them after reading this. People shouldn’t be ashamed or teased for doing what they love. Male ballet dancers are exceptional.