The prejudices about boys doing ballet never seem to die, but boys who dance see social, physical, and intellectual benefits that will stand them in good stead for the rest of their lives.
Ballet is beneficial to all children (and adults). It teaches them discipline and perseverance, strengthens and stretches their bodies, and challenges their brains. (Don't believe me? Check out some of these articles: "Dancing and the Brain," "Why is Dancing so Good for Your Brain?," and "9 Benefits You Can Experience Once You Start Dancing." And our Artistry House Productions article "Move Your Body, Improve Your Brain.")
Here are three out-of-the-box benefits of ballet for boys:
1. Crossover - Ballet improves your balance, flexibility, strength, and endurance. Each of these benefits will improve physical performance across the board -- including in other sports. Fast ballet footwork can help with soccer, basketball, or football. Flexibility and strength will help to prevent injury. And endurance is key to making it through ballet class and overtime.
2. Self-Expression - The benefits of ballet aren't only physical and intellectual. Don't forget that just like girls, boys need to learn to deal with their emotions. Dance allows for defeats and triumphs in the classroom and on stage, and dancers learn to handle the emotional roller coaster of life through the highs and lows of their training.
In addition, ballet teaches us to show our emotions through our body language and that is key to expressing feelings that young dancers might not be ready to share verbally and that more mature dancers might not have any other outlet to express.
3. Opportunity - Let's start with the obvious. There are fewer men in ballet than there are women. That means better roles, a better chance of a college scholarship, and a possible professional career. (Not that the men don't work just as hard as the women, they do! But they have the numbers on their side as well).
But what are the other opportunities? Boys love to move their bodies, and dance class is a great way to do that and to constantly learn new ways in which to do it. Brotherhood might not seem like an obvious benefit, but a few boys in a room full of girls can really pull together and create strong bonds. Health is one of the greatest benefits of ballet. Each class is a challenge that will keep your body and brain healthy.
Don't count boys out when it's time to head to the dance studio!
Are you still asking: Why do boys dance? For the same reason that all of us do, they like it! We love to move. We enjoy the challenge of perfecting our craft. And it makes us feel better, physically, mentally, and emotionally.