The dance community was taken aback by the condescending comments and juvenile attitude of “Good Morning America” host Lara Spencer. She apologized like a grownup who makes an error. Update: the derogatory remarks continue over at Fox News who try their little best to sensationalize everything. These two anchors are just another attempt to discredit the strength, grace, talents and dreams of boys and men in ballet. That is unacceptable.
It started with Lara Spencer relaying the news of young Prince George’s new class schedule, which happened to include ballet. She laughed and mocked the choice of ballet given to the future King of England. Why would she laugh at a boy who takes ballet? Since our Instagram feed is almost all dance, this was on our favorite dancers’ feeds condemning her for making fun of boy dancers. Her words were taken as bullying the young prince, something many male ballet dancers have experienced. But it’s not just ballet, male dancers experience teasing to bullying because they happen to love to dance and be darn good at it.
We wanted to share what happened first, then focus on the positive outcomes, and of course, highlight some of our favorite ballet boys.
Some have said “Oh, she was just kidding.” But why is it funny for a boy to take ballet? “Oh, you know, it’s feminine.” Bye.
If feminine is supposed to mean easy, delicate and dainty, let’s go to a ballet class to actually see. To follow this machista attitude, we’ll ask them to show us their muscles, their control, their strength, their grace and then, watch out, their feet. There’s nothing easy, delicate and dainty about ballet.
Here’s how Lara Spencer should have handled it as a person who appreciates ballet for the combined strength and grace as well as the hours of training that are needed to create this strength and grace.
“This is awesome news. Prince George is going to learn strength, discipline and musicality, plus he’ll be enveloped in classical music and actually learn some French in an organic way. It would be lovely to see ballet as a standard class on all elementary schools’ curriculum – for all children –because it will teach a love for the arts at a young age. But, most importantly, it will hopefully stop the absurd bullying of male ballet dancers. Because boys dance too. Is #TheDancingPrince trending yet?”
But something positive came out of this. A beautiful protest – the impromptu “Good Morning Ballet” class in Times Square to support #BoysDanceToo.
The was the brilliant idea of dancers Alex D. Wong, Robert Fairchild, Charlie Williams and Sam Quinn. Travis Wall, the Emmy Award-winning choreographer for “So You Think You Can Dance,” and artistic director of the dance company Shaping Sound, led the 300-person ballet class in a beautiful display of strength.
Lara Spencer immediately apologized on air and interviewed Travis Wall, Robert Fairchild and Fabrice Calmels about their experiences as young male dancers. We hope she does more pieces on dance now.
We have a growing list of favorite Los Angeles choreographers that fill our feeds with joy. But here are the first ones that have ballet training that came to mind. There are so many more in L.A. and out but that will be for a later post.
Brian Friedman has danced with everyone from P!NK to Beiber and Britney Spears to Janet Jackson. He can pretty much do everything. Why? Aside from being a talented dancer, it’s his technical training. We love this throwback song and his choreography. It’s a bit different from his others and we like the constant surprises from Brian.
Our students always have a great time in Anthony “Kanec” Carr’s hip hop classes at Millennium. He trained at New York City ‘s School of American Ballet while simultaneously attending the Professional Performing Arts School.
Gabriel Ash is favorite of our summer dancers because he’s fun and incorporates many styles in his choreography. But isn’t he a hip hop choregrapher? Yes, but he’s a dancer, a dancer with ballet training. He went to a performing arts middle school, high school and university where he studied ballet. What’s the saying? A versatile dancer is a booked dancer.
No list can be complete without Yanis Marshall. He’s become a household name and a coveted choreographer, just ask Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, the folks from “Dead Pool,” RuPaul and so many more. Vogue Magazine chose him to give readers “Five Sultry Moves.” He’s made dancing in heels look easy. But that’s what dancers do – make hard work and hours of training look easy, breezy, beautiful.
Even though Lara Spencer’s comments were belittling, hurtful and just old and tired, the outpour of support was positive. We can only hope that Prince George’s ballet class will encourage more boys to dance and more parents to put their boys in ballet class. We’ll leave you with one of our all-time favorite dancers, Blake McGrath.