Teaching Boys to Dance

by David on July 3, 2010

Yesterday was the first Boys’ Creative Dance class of the summer at my local studio. This is a class that I am teaching for elementary school aged boys. We offer it for free, in order to encourage boys and parents to take interest. You should be glad to hear that the first class was a great success. It was a success in the sense that I believe the boys and the parents both saw that dance wasn’t such a bad idea. I will go over a little bit about how the class got started, and why I think a boys creative dance class is a great way to introduce elementary school aged boys to dance.

Forming the class

I think boys should be given the chance to dance. It is sad to not give them the chance. It seems natural for girls to be put into dance, while boys are placed somewhere else, maybe a sport. But everyone should be given the chance to experience what dance has to offer.

I offered to teach the class for free. It requires a small amount of time each week that I am giving, and I feel that dance has already provided me with so much, so it seems a very fair trade. We thought about starting the class during the year, but everyone was so busy with performances that we put it on the schedule for the summer.  By the first class 14 boys had enrolled. Because the class was so large, and boys tend to be very active in class, we had another male dancer help out. Only 3 of the boys had taken any dance before at all.

We put together the lessons using ideas from Creative Dance for All Ages by Anne Green Gilbert. She does a lot of great creative dance workshops and a few of the teachers I’ve had have been to them. Creative Dance for All Ages breaks down different concepts of dance, showing tons of great lessons and exercises that kids and adults can really enjoy. I chose different exercises that I thought young guys would like to participate in, created a 40 minute lesson plan, and grabbed some songs I thought were pretty fun and not offensive.

The Class

When I arrived at the studio before the boys’ class, there were already quite a few kids waiting in the lobby. I saw a few mothers trying to calm their sons down. The parents wanted to watch the class, so I let them, and it created quite a fun atmosphere. 40 minutes went by really fast. The dancers were extremely enthusiastic and seemed to whole-heartedly take part.

At the end of the class, a lot of parents came up to us and said they really enjoyed watching. Many said that their sons were not to into the idea of a dance class, but that after they said that it was so much fun. We did all have a lot of fun, and I think that the boys saw that dance can be really enjoyable. Hopefully next week will go as well.

When I think about the mothers trying to calm their boys down in the lobby, and then how those boys were able to use a lot of that energy in the dance class, it just seems to make sense to put a boy in a creative dance class. I hope that parents and their sons recognize that a dance class is a very natural place to be.

At the studio we are talking about adding a second class in the week. There are other boys who are interested in taking dance, but can’t make it on the day that our class is. It will be interesting to see how many boys stick with the class through the summer, and if any boys continue on to take other forms of dance.

I think that dancers should always be thinking about ways they can extend opportunities to others. If you are someone who has gained a lot from dance, think about the many ways that you can introduce others to new experiences. Learning dance is rewarding, helping others learn dance is an honor.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Susan July 31, 2010 at 7:57 am

I think its great that you are doing so much to encourage young boys to participate in dance. Its a great sport and takes a lot of physical endurance yet creative expression.

2 Azalea October 16, 2010 at 4:03 pm

Hi! I’m doing research on boys and creative dance. It sounds like the boys had a wonderful time in your class :-) I’m interested to know what types of movement were in your lesson plan and what part of the lesson did the boys seem to like the best?

3 Tom December 14, 2010 at 4:33 pm

I am starting a dance for boys class at the local studio where I live. I am pretty excited about it. It starts at the end of January. So far there are 4 boys interested, but I am hoping to get more. Thanks for writing this article. I have used Mary Joyce’s book (from the early 1980) and have also used Ann Green Gilbert’s work on dance in inclusive settings for students with disabilities. I am glad you reminded me about her work!

4 Mike May 28, 2011 at 10:23 am

You’re doing really good job. Creative atmosphere is very important for the beginners.

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