#boysdancetoo – why does there seem to be a general stigma held around male dancers?

Travis Wall left and Robbie Fairchild - leading a dance class outside in NYC

Good Morning America host Lara Spencer made disparaging comments about 6-year-old Prince George’s interest in dance. 

The controversy began Thursday, 22nd of August when Good Morning America host, Lara Spencer, on her segment called “Pop News,” was outlying the English monarch’s curriculum for the year. His studies reportedly included religious studies, computer programming, poetry, and, of course, ballet.

Spencer held back her laughter, but remarked: “Prince William says George absolutely lovesballet,” adding, “I have news for you Prince William, we’ll see how long that lasts.”

Since then, she has apologised:

“The comment I made about dance was insensitive. It was stupid and I am deeply sorry.”

“My sincere apologies for an insensitive comment I made in pop news yesterday,” she said.

“From ballet to anything one wants to explore in life, I say GO FOR IT.

“I fully believe we should all be free to pursue our passions. Go climb your mountain-and love every minute of it.”

What is remarkable was the public response in defence of the young monarch:

Travis Wall and Robbie Fairchild led a class for dancers — boys and girls, men and women — near the studios of “Good Morning America” in Times Square. There were signs of support such as: “#metutu,” “Boys Dance Too” and “I Wish I’d Started at 6!!!” 

Credit: Misha Friedman for The New York Times

Former Strictly judge Arlene Phillips commented on Instagram: “What a shameful, outdated, harmful attitude being broadcast to the masses:

“Dance has countless scientifically proven benefits for physical and mental health.

“There should be nothing but encouragement for any male who chooses to try dance whether it’s as a fun hobby or for a future as a professional.”

Even dance legend Gene Kelly’s widow as compelled to comment, posting an open letter to her Facebook about the important legacy of her husband and his work to destigmatize the study and practice of dance for men, calling on ABC to “do better.”:

In 1958, my late husband, the dancer, director, choreographer Gene Kelly, decided to take on the stigma facing male dancers in an Omnibus television program for NBC that he created and starred in called “Dancing, A Man’s Game.” He hoped that by aligning the great sports stars of the day—Mickey Mantle, Johnny Unitas, Vic Seixas, Sugar Ray Robinson, among others—he could challenge and destroy the shame surrounding male dancers once and for all. 

At Third Culture, it makes us wonder, what does it take to make a cultural shift in the public’s general mindset.

Representation? We already have popular male-dance shows and films like Billy Elliot. Let’s not forget that Tom Holland, our current and extremely popular Spiderman, once began his career as Billy:

Tom Holland as Billy Elliot

Why is it then that in 2019 there still seems to be a stigma around male dancers? And what can be done to change this.

Perhaps, with the overwhelming repose to the comments, things have changed – and this is just the off-the-cuff remarks of one individual.

Third Culture would love to know your thoughts!

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