Last weekend I took my girls to their final dance competition of this year. I sat through dozens of routines, cheered and waved appropriately and then the exhausted mother and daughters headed home, proudly carrying their various awards. And without pointing one toe, I felt I had earned them too.
A happy and successful weekend all round, all bar the twenty minutes that Daughter Number Two went into nervous-tummy-melt-down mode (don't cry dear, you'll ruin your mascara). I was the picture of serenity - a calm and soothing mother, who shuffled her be-smudged child to one side, talked to her while licking a cotton-bud - then gently pushed her forward into the group of sparkly purple-clad dancers, telling her she should at least try and do the routine. She was, of course, absolutely great. By this time, I had been reduced to a nervous-tummy, nail-biting wreck on the sidelines.
I witnessed literally hundreds and hundreds of girls shake, wiggle and smile for the adjudicators. And only about 9 boys.
Dancing is not cool for boys. It's "gay" - said with such derision by the hockey and football jocks. I hugely admire any young lad who maintains his dance classes after about the age of 8. Figure skating is the same. It's the occasional need to wear sparkly buttons - that's the killer for guys, isn't it? But really, who didn't enjoy Billy Elliot?
Brandon Bryant (SYTYCD (USA) Series 5)
But dancing IS sooooo cool. Like, seriously, cool. A guy who can dance will have any other guy or girl entranced. He is buff and strong, he is very co-ordinated and talented, and he would put most athletes' fitness levels to shame. He is sexy!
So my question is, where do guys learn to dance, because it does not seem to be in the traditional dance studios up and down the country? Our own dance school has one serious teenage male dancer, two younger 10-year old boys who do a variety of classes, and then a smaller group who only turn up once a week for Hip Hop classes (because that is just about cool enough to fend off bullies at school perhaps). Alberta is still way more conservative than a more multi-cultural and diverse city and perhaps I'm getting an unbalanced view? Are city-centre dance school over-run with boys learning to dance?
(I won't add the direct YouTube link to my blog 'cos it takes too long to load,
but if you've got a few minutes to spare, click here!
Just remember that Alex Wong is a classically trained ballet dancer.)
And yet when programmes on the TV ask for dancers to audition (So You Think You Can Dance, for example, or [insert country]'s Got Talent, Pop Idol, X-Factor), or even the hugely popular High School Musical movies, there are thousands of young male dancer wannabes. Where did they learn to dance? "John has been dancing since he was 9 years old". Where?? In his bedroom watching a video? Actually, yes. Real talent goes unspotted and wasted.
Many of the reasons behind lack of visible numbers is down to parents. Some mums, but more especially the dads are not so open to their son dancing as they thought they might be. When push comes to shove, c'mon buddy - hockey/soccer is the one for you.
So the stereotype in fact becomes true, and those that stick it out - well a large proportion happen to be gay anyway. But then they have to hide that!? My request to all dance producers is to keep plugging away, keep the diversity of dance coming and let the fee-paying audiences show you they want to watch ALL dancers.
C'mon guys, shake that booty and show us your stuff. Please!