From a young age, boys naturally love to dance. But there are still more girls taking up dance in kid’s fitness classes across the country than boys – and that’s a shame.
Dancing is seen as a girly activity, so boys who like to partake can sometimes be hesitant, if not actively discouraged, from asking if they can join classes. The reality is that – as a culture – we're limiting boy's choices. And the irony is that if we did the same for girls, there'd be an uproar.
If you’ve noticed your son likes to boogie, there are a few things you can do to make them feel more comfortable in the dance studio.
- Find remarkable role models. There’s been no shortage of elite, highly talented male dancers around the world, across every genre, throughout history. Think Fred Astaire, Michael Jackson and Mikhail Baryshnikov – all famous and wildly successful dancers in their field. They prove that pursuing hip-hop, ballet or tap requires extraordinary skill, strength and agility. Leaping in the air, acrobatics and maintaining high-intensity movement for an extended period proves just as physical as football, sometimes even more so.
Why, then, do we see so few young boys and teens signing up for dance classes? Is it because our culture still prioritises ball sports for boys as a masculine activity? Clearly promoting dance as a sport that’s every bit as demanding as traditional athletic pursuits is one step towards changing this mindset. Show them dance is challenging. Every class requires you to push yourself past your limits and try new things outside your comfort zone. It’s not for the faint-hearted. Boys need to know this.
- Start young. Encouraging dance at daycare or signing up for preschool dance classes is a great way to normalise dancing for boys from a young age. Gender differences aren’t innate in toddlers – it’s society that teaches them boys are supposed to like different things to girls.
Of course, as boys get older, they may like different kinds of activities on the dancefloor. Look for classes that cater to their needs – try dance classes that incorporate obstacle courses, trampolines, acrobatics and competitive elements. The social and competitive aspects of hip-hop are often a good fit for teenage boys who may be drawn to the notion of trying to outdo other dance crews.
- Point out the cathartic nature of dance. Boys often need to do something physical when their emotions are running high. Dance is all about expressing emotion – if your son has some pent-up feelings about a bad day at school or an argument with his siblings (or you!), encourage dance as a legitimate way to work through them.
There's nothing more freeing than turning your favourite music up extra loud and dancing your heart out. It's fun, it doesn't cost a cent, and it's a great way to get rid of your ya-yas. In fact, it’s one of life’s greatest pleasures – so why do we, as a society, discourage boys from participating?
Does your boy love to dance? Sign him up for preschool dance classes today!