Having danced for as long as I have, I have seen a big change in dance class participation and attitudes. Although dance has of course always been dominantly female, I have recently seen a consistent decrease in not only the interest of males in dance class, but a lack of participation and dedication of the males that are already involved. Why is this? Now it would be easy to blame the parents. Parents do seem to appreciate and prefer sports over arts, but these are not just young boys I am talking about; the males I am referring to are grown men (well almost-ages 16 to 30). Now I understand being busy and having many other things to have to focus on, but being extremely busy myself and still being fully committed to dance class, I tend not to have very much sympathy nor understanding. I found that boys tend to value things a little differently than girls. Moreover, their values and priorities change regularly. This often puts dance, or any other kind of commitment on the back burner. So how can we get boys interested in dance? I have a few suggestions:
- Start your students dancing when they are young. Children at younger ages have zero inhibitions. In this way, they will try anything without worrying about what they look like. If you are able to hook boys early and teach them dance is for them too, they will develop a sense of appreciation for dance and its benefits as the years pass.
- Have your dance class in a neutral setting. Do not have it in a room with pink walls and pictures of ballet everywhere. This tends to immediately turn boys off from participating.
- Have dance classes that are geared toward boys and the things that boys are interested in. Creating movements based on a popular movie or comic book are good ideas that encourage boys to try. In addition, using music and rhythms that are exciting and engaging to boys also helps.
- Constantly remind boys that dance is a physical and athletic activity. Challenge their abilities and make them tired! This way they will really understand how active dance can really be.
So, can we get boys interested in dance?