Opinion

When boys dance, they blossom

There are plenty of reasons that boys should dance.

It helps them stay fit. It helps them with coordination. It builds their muscles. It teaches them more flexibility. Pretty much think of an attribute that helps you in sports, and dance can improve it. 

So why don’t boys dance?

It’s never really made sense to me that boys don’t dance as much as girls. But then again, it has never made sense to me that tons of Islanders show up for the boys’ basketball games and leave the minute the girls’ games start. (But that’s another column.) Both girls and boys play basketball, play soccer, play baseball. And both girls and boys can dance.

Still, the impression lingers. Boys don’t dance. And if they do, they do it quietly.

This year I couldn’t be prouder, because my 9-year-old son finally found a way to throw off the shackles of stereotypes and pursue his love of dancing.

He is now enrolled in his first dance class at Blue Heron, along with a bunch of other boys. I stand and look at them through the window as they dance and gallop in their distinctly boy fashion. What a joy it is to see him dance, to see the boys throw themselves into dance just as much as they might a soccer game.

My son is also finally admitting he likes to sing. He made the cut and is set to be in his first Drama Dock musical, “Oklahoma,” this summer.  He already has been watching the movie and told me the other day that he is excited to “use his new moves” from his dance class once “Oklahoma” rehearsals get under way.

I have been trying to support these new interests as much as I can — showing him “Billy Elliott,” talking about Hugh Jackman, Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire.

He almost didn’t sign up to take the dance class. One of his friends was teasing him about it at school, telling him that sissies would take dance class. Will was upset, and it was almost enough to make him change his mind.

But ah, let’s not forget loyalty. His very best friend really wanted to take the class, and told him how important it was for them to do it together. Voila! The teasing no longer mattered, as the two buddies started dancing together.

I hate stereotypes. I hate it when men use the word “fishwife” or “nag” because no one uses them when talking about men. It hate it when people assume men shouldn’t cry. It hate it when girls assume they can’t wrestle or play baseball or basketball just as aggressively as the guys. And I hate it when boys feel they shouldn’t sing and dance.

I keep thinking of all of the wonderful things I have experienced in my life because of music. I would love to have my little boy have those same experiences. I would like to believe he can get muddy, play goalie ferociously during soccer season, play with his airsoft guns with his friends (I caved on that one), and, yes, dance.

After all, isn’t this sort of what we have been fighting for all these years? A culture that eases up on stereotypes, assumptions and generalizations about people based on sex?

I look forward to my son turning some of those assumptions upside down. And I hope part of his journey is learning to dance.

— Lauri Hennessey, a mother of three, runs a public relations firm on Vashon.

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