A popular dance studio in Williams Lake is holding its first boys-only class.
Corinne Stromsten, owner of Dance In Common, has long wished to be able to offer and run this class, but because of traditionally low engagement numbers, she’s mostly had interested boys dance with the girls, until now.
Designed to expose boys to the dance world, the class covers a wide variety of genres and styles of dance from jazz, ballet and hip hop, as well as to choreography where they’ll learn how to create their own routines.
“Even though some of them are quite young, they all are very creative and they all have something to offer. It’s not just me telling them what to do. It’s a really good group of kids,” Stromsten said.
“We currently have 11 males in the studio and in the boys’ program, we have seven to eight. The girls sometimes come early to watch the boys in the back window and are a little bit envious of their program.”
Teaching dance to boys requires a different, more physical and direct approach, Stromsten said. Boys need to be shown clearly what to do, she said, and strict guidelines so they don’t run around and goof off the entire lesson.
Having a male mentor has helped, as is using music with heavier beats and deeper sounds.
“One time, I made the mistake off putting on a very fairy-sounding type of music and they just didn’t respond the same way than when we have deep, heavy sounding music,” Stromsten said, chuckling.
Changing the language she uses to teach has also been beneficial. She’s used the Transformers movie franchise as a way to explain how to “transform” their bodies into various poses and movements.
“I think creative dance style and classical dance style is beneficial to their brain development. It teaches them discipline, self-control and that boys have just as much to offer in dance as girls.”
Liam Gilroy is in Grade 7 and a mentor in the boys’ class.
“I like ballet, it’s very fun and it helps me improve my style. I like jazz as well,” Gilroy said. “Dance, it’s an art, right? It’s something you can learn. I get to get out, I stay fit, I get to do what I love and I get to hang out with some of my friends.”
Stromsten said Gilroy was visibly excited when boys started signing up for this class and others. She said it was probably hard for him being the only boy in a studio of girls.
She described him as patient and willing to take the time to help build the boys up. He maintains a friendship with each of them and leads by example.
“I find that it’s usually stereotyped: ‘Oh, dancing is for girls.’ But it’s really not,” Gilroy said.
“I watched the Nutcracker, which is one of the more famous dances, and those guys are amazing. They do spins, flips and everything. Everyone’s like ‘Ha, ha, you dance,’ and everything, and I’m like: ‘Yeah. I love it!’”