The dance studio landscape has evolved in recent times. An interesting trend has
emerged. The once female-dominated dance studio has transformed to include a more
diverse clientele; boys are beginning to take center stage. They’re trading in hockey gear
for dance shoes to express themselves in a new arena once considered effeminate.
This generation of boys is embracing hip hop and break dancing in growing numbers.
Arguably, the birth of this art form can be traced to a youth culture movement that took
place in the South Bronx of New York City during the early 1970s. Its pioneers were
members of New York and L.A. street gangs who taught themselves martial arts to
defend themselves against rivals. Each gang would try to out-do the other by showing
off more complex and dynamic moves. Many of these youngsters quickly realized that it
was easier as ‘B-Boys’ to receive approbation from their peers than to fight in traditional
gangs. At times they even earned large amounts of money for their performances.
Consequently what evolved was an alternative way to settle old scores with rival gangs
without having to resort the violent confrontation. Break dancing is considered a corner
stone of hip hop culture itself. In the 1980s, many funk dance styles that originally
evolved separately from hip hop, such as popping and locking, merged with the hip hop
culture. These dance forms were danced together with break dancing.
With the influence of media, this once ghetto dance form became mainstream. More
recently, Hip Hop and breaking dancing have become official dance genres in worldwide
competitions. Dancers such as Usher, Chris Brown and Channing Tatum continue to
legitimize this pop culture revolution. These dance performers now compete with sport
icons for male idol supremacy, sharing the spotlight with the likes of Sidney Crosby,
Lebron James and Kobe Bryant. While male sport legends personify stereotypic
masculine displays of athletic prowess, modern hip hop and break dancers offer equally
sought after traits of confidence, swagger and showmanship. Boys now identify with a
new breed of male role models. It has become cool for boys to dance.
Dance, in general, offers boys many of the same benefits of sports in addition to other
skills and attitudes readily transferred to other aspects of their lives. Ironically, dance
may be one of the secrets to successful athletic performance. It improves strength,
flexibility, balance, coordination, endurance and cooperation, all of which enhance sport
performance. Better yet, dance is an all-in-one package comprised of art, stage
performance and exercise. The dancer learns the art of continuous fluid movement,
stage presence while exploring creative self-expression. As the dancer develops his
skills, his confidence increases and his appreciation of this art form deepens.
When choosing a studio for boys, some key elements should be considered. First and
foremost decide what is the boy’s goal for taking dance. Is it focused skill acquisition,
competition, recreational enjoyment, exercise, social interaction, stage performance
training or overall development of personal attributes? Is the studio’s philosophy and
dance program aligned with these goals?
Next, seek out studios that already have an established group of boys currently enrolled.
Boys want to be amongst their own kind, particularly when partaking in an activity
primarily dominated by females. Determine if the studio has male teachers. By virtue of
gender, male teachers have an edge in being role models for younger boys. How well
qualified are these teachers? Usually dance studio websites will provide bios on their
teachers describing qualifications and experience.
Continue your search by asking about the dance program. How long has it been running
and if you can view any video clips of performances online. What unique benefits does
the studio provide? Some studios bring in guest teachers with unique talents, have
students participate in public performances or offer off-site dance opportunities. You
may also want to view a class in progress. This will give you a sense of the teaching style,
student-teacher interaction, peer bond and an overall feel of the studio. If you still need
to be convinced, the director / owner of the studio should be able to connect you with
some of the parents of boys currently enrolled to get feedback on their overall
satisfaction with the program and studio. Many studios offer a trial period to ‘give-it-go’
without making a long term commitment. Keep in mind that once they’re immersed a
new passion is sure to follow!