Friday, May 11, 2018

The stigma of being a boy in ballet

Pointe Magazine has posted a blog article about an upcoming feature-length documentary called Danseur that addresses the stigma of being a boy in ballet.

From the Pointe article:
The documentary is the brainchild of director Scott Gormley. "I have a son who is a dancer, so I watched what he went through," he told Pointe last week. "I thought, is this typical?" After doing some research and talking to other parents and dancers, he realized that cruel and relentless teasing, along with social isolation and disapproval from peers and adults, was all too common. "It just felt like a message that had to be broadcast. My goal with the film is to educate people about the subject and hopefully start some conversations about what young men face when they choose to dance."
There's no date for a theatrical release yet. If I hear of one I'll mention it.

As a man taking ballet, I understand a little bit of what this film is talking about. I've had women look at me like I've intruded into some sort of private, women-only space. And I've had people assume that when I say "I have ballet class tonight" I must really mean "My daughter has ballet class tonight".

As an adult, though, I have confidence enough to look them in the eye as if to say, "I belong here. Do you?" To those who assume I'm talking about a daughter that I don't have, I can say, "No, I have ballet class tonight", and make it almost but not quite sound like a challenge. Could I have pulled that off as an 8 year old or teen? Probably not.

The vast majority of people I meet in class are open and welcoming. Even those few who have been skeptical at first soon realize that I'm not there to play around and gawk, I'm there to learn. And if they have issues with being in a dance studio with a man wearing tights, then that's their body image problem, not mine.

I still wonder what would have happened if I'd been able to take ballet at age 5 when I first wanted to. Or if, when they were finally willing to take me at age 8, if I hadn't "learned" that "boys don't dance, and especially not ballet". Oh well...

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