Men in Dance is No Mistake


Media by Sam Hall

Siberian Swan, pointe shoe company challenges the norm with pointe shoes created for men.

Siberian Swan has released a new pointe shoe designed specifically for men’s feet.

I remember first hearing about the release and thinking it was great. Now, men can play another role in ballet than just to make me look pretty.

Going into the studio with this new found joy, I was met with laughs and confusion. My predominantly female studio thought it was a joke.

There is still a stigma around men in dance.

I think about the movie: “Billy Elliot.” It is a story about a boy who just wants to dance, but the male figures in his life want him to believe it is not masculine and want him to fight. Almost 20 years later this story still rings true for many male dancers.

This stigma has affected so many dancers, many of whom have lost support from their family and friends.

My own artistic director, Antonio Douthit Boyd, a former dancer with the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater was met with animosity from his family when he wanted to pursue dance.

We at MHS reinforce this stigma around men in dance by Mistake, jokingly performed by guys in crop tops and tutus, and again with Mr. Mustang.

I understand both are satire, and I would even say I find humor in watching my opinions and production editors dance in jorts, but there is still a harmful message being sent out: boys in dance is not the norm.

We have to change that.

We normalize boys in other sports, but dance has become the exception. Male dancers train and work just as hard as any other athlete, but do not get the respect they deserve.

The playing fields, if you will, for dance compared to a typical sport are intrinsically different.

I am more than proud of boys who can catch a ball. Men in ballet are tasked with the responsibility of catching women in the air and not dropping them for long periods of time.

Being less flexible than females proves a challenge to most men as well. They have to work much harder than women to achieve the most flexibility.

Dancers are often overworked. Because there are so few males in dance, they are cast more frequently. One dancer might be working three shows because the availability of male dancers is so few.

Dance is one of the most beautiful art forms a person can partake in. There is no hiding. You have to be vulnerable in front of strangers and trust them with your heart through movement.

I refuse to believe this form of self-expression is bound to the constraints of a few close-minded people.

Dance is beautiful. Not feminine or masculine.