Mary Lorraine's Dance Center interviewed two professional male dancers about their thoughts and experiences as performers. While dance, and specifically ballet, is often thought of as a female art, dance is actually for everyone!
From a young age, children see the praise of sports and athletes. This can be especially impactful to young boys who are taught to glorify sports. And yes, sports are great to watch and play! But just like sports, dance takes an incredible amount of strength, flexibility, agility, and intelligence. And many male dancers cross train with other activities, cardio training, and weight-lifting. But dance can also involves expressiveness, story-telling, and creativity. As Einstein said, "Dancers are the athletes of God." It is the perfect mix of athleticism and artistic expression. Because dance and ballet specifically has often been stereotyped as a "girl thing", many boys are discouraged by either their peers or their parents participate. Well these men are proof that can enjoy, succeed, and make a professional career out of dance!
Meet Dylan Smith
Dylan is a professional dancer based in California. He started dancing in musicals at the age of 11 in West Long Branch, NJ. He went on to study dance at Marymount Manhattan College in New York City. Dylan has amazing performing experience nationally and internationally, aboard Holland American Cruise lines as well as various regional theater work, industrials, film and television. He is also a choreographer, instructor, and visual artist!
Q: What challenges have you faced as a male dancer and how did you overcome them?
A: In Middle School and some of High School I would say bullying and name calling. The more I excelled in dance and theatre the more the negativity stopped. People started realizing I was good and I was garnering awards and positive attention, so that helped. I also had a very good group of friends that supported me and defended me. I was so busy with shows, class, competitions and schoolwork that I had to stay focused. I had and still do have big dreams, so I was never going to allow anyone or anything to get in the way even if it was extremely challenging at times.
Q:How do you think parents and society can better support boys dancing today?
A: To remove their ego from the situation. It’s not about how others feel about boys dancing. It is so important to nurture what a child or teen wants to do. It ends up shaping them as adults and no one wants a child to have stifled dream or lost opportunities.
Q: What would be your advice to boys who are just starting out in dance?
A: Stay strong and brave. There are far more males dancing now than when I started. Also, the exposure dance and males dancers have gotten through film, tv, social media etc. has opened the lens up to main stream America and the world for that matter, that dance is amazing and anyone can do it!
Meet Timothy Booth!
Timothy is a professional dancer from the United Kingdom. He started dance at 17. He trained professionally at the Northern Ballet School in Manchester. Some of his dance experience includes dancing on Norwegian Cruise Line and in London’s Revival of “Anything Goes”!
Q: What was your early dance training like?
A: I studied in my local village hall for one year, then I transferred to a better facilitated school in the city across, there I had a big intensive year of training (couldn’t afford the classes but came up with an agreement with the principal to have them for free if I stayed after class to do accounts/receptionist/admin tasks). Then trained professionally on a scholarship at Northern Ballet School!
Q: What was the biggest challenge you faced as a male dancer?
A:I think the biggest challenge I faced was catching up to try and be the best! It felt like time was against started at a later age but if you work ten times harder you catch up ten times quicker!
Q: What has been the most rewarding part of dance?
A: Dance has taken me all over the world, I’ve been lucky enough to see lots and make the most amazing lifelong friends along the way. Dancing has also rewarded me with discipline and professionalism and not everyone gets that.
Thank you Tim and Dylan for taking the time to provide insight into your experience as a dancer and inspiring the next generation of male dancers!