The Underdogs of Dance Concert
The lights go off, the curtain goes up, the crowd watches in awe as colorfully costumed high schoolers perform in student-choreographed pieces. As the show continues, dance after dance, it becomes evident that Dance Concert is an event that predominantly features females Where are the boys, a spectator may wonder? There are some in the show of course, but their number is noticeably much smaller.
In previous years, males participating in Dance Concert have been given traditional male roles in dances. For instance, their job consisted mostly of assisting the dancers with certain moves. However, over time, it seems boys came to dislike these limited roles and choreographers began to give male and female dancers similar parts.
Paul Mclaren (‘17) expressed his thoughts about conventionally male dance parts.
“I hate it and I think it’s stupid,” said Paul. “The ‘boy part, girl part’ in choreography is outdated and it’s tacky.”
However, not all male dancers dislike playing a traditional male role.
“In my freshman year, I did a couple of lifts for my dance and I enjoyed doing it because I have always been interested in that type of dancing,” said Jojo Aboaf (‘18). “I wouldn’t say males lifting females as a part of their role in a dance is a bad thing because a lot of girls do lifting in their dances too.”
But beyond gendered roles in dance, men are often accused of being effeminate just because they like to dance. It is only certain types of dance, such as Hip-hop, that are widely deemed acceptable for masculine men to participate in. So when it comes to Dance Concert, where the majority of the dances are contemporary in style, there is some speculation about whether the male dancers are showing feminine qualities, even at a progressive school like Packer.
“I don’t think there’s a stereotype about boys just in Dance Concert — I think there’s a stereotype about boys in dance in general,” said Sam Ervolino (‘18). “Any time someone joins a field predominately “owned” by one gender, there are a lot of misconceptions and preconceived ideas about those people.”
The fear of being falsely stereotyped might make some young males think twice about auditioning for Dance Concert. Since the dancers in the graduating class last year left, the number of boys in the show has made a noticeable drop from fifteen to six, out of approximately 65 total dancers. This makes it the underclassmen’s job to step up and fill the gap.
Some participants do not give gender stereotyping a second thought. “I wasn’t scared to audition my freshman year because I’m not afraid to express myself,” said Andreas Antonio (‘19).
“Dance Concert is a form of self-expression for the choreographers; it helps them find their voice as an artist,” said Mandy Stallings, dance teacher and Dance Concert director. “Does gender affect that? I think it could, but dance teachers try to help male students know that they don’t have to choreograph a certain way because of their gender. The point of Dance Concert is to help all dancers and all choreographers find their unique voice inside themselves.”
“Everyone knows that there is that societal perception that men don’t dance,” said Paul, “But I think men should dance and not care about stereotypes. Dance is for everyone!”