#BOYSDANCETOO – Why we choose to provide co-educational dance classes.

A wonderful thing is happening in suburban dance schools around Melbourne, and the world…more and more boys are taking dance classes! This is fantastic for the ever-growing dance industry but more so for the young males who will receive all the benefits that learning to dance has to offer. If you’re not sure of the benefits of dance here is a super quick summary:

  • Fitness and agility
  • Strength
  • Healthy muscles and bones
  • Confidence
  • Self-expression
  • Mental Strength
  • And more! The list is never-ending.

Slowly but surely the “girls do ballet and boys do football” stigma is being squashed and many parents are embracing dance as an engaging and beneficial way for their sons to release their never-ending energy, express themselves and have fun.

Once he has voiced an interest in dance and music, mum and dad usually set out on a hunt for a “Boys Only Hip Hop Class” and “Dance Classes for Boys”…. but why? In 2019 when the fight for equality is high and there is a strong push for embracing every individual and all of their quirks, and all stereotypes and stigmas are being thrown out the window, why do boys need a dance class all to themselves? At Main St Funk we say, they don’t. We pride ourselves on providing co-educational dance classes to boys and girls of all ages and experience levels, not just because we aim to be fair and equal but because there are clear benefits to both genders in a co-educational dance class environment.

So what are they?

  1. It builds trust, respect, and boundaries and prepares them for the future.
    Upon leaving the dance studio, your child will re-enter a world that is 50 percent female and 50 percent male. They will interact with the opposite gender for the most part of every day of their lives; school, work, friends, family, playgrounds, the shops…what benefit is there in separating them at dance class? Learning together in an intimate environment such as a dance studio allows both parties to gain a better understanding of each other. They will know how to speak appropriately to each other, they will learn to understand each individual’s boundaries and it will teach them to be more empathetic to the opposite gender. Learning together builds trust between the two genders and diffuses the idea that we should be wary of people who are different to us; no more “cooties” or “boy germs”. Dance class can often be a “hands on” environment, boys will learn how to treat and respect women, which is such an important quality today and one that all boys should be learning. 

  2. A career in dance means a career with girls.
    If your son’s love for dance develops so strongly that he decides to turn his passion into a career, he will have no choice but to dance with girls. Tertiary level full-time dance courses are typically not gender specific. Which means if your son was to further his training on a more professional level he would be spending close to 40 hours a week in a dance studio, with women. That would be a pretty big shock to the system for someone who has only danced in a male-only environment. What’s more, a lot of professional dance gigs are diverse in gender and if your son is not capable of working with female dancers, it could cost him a job, his reputation, and even his career.

  3. Partnerwork.
    As mentioned above, most performance opportunities, whether it be a  corporate gig or a role in a show, are co-gender. Many choreographers love to feature partner work and lifts (think the famous lift in Dirty Dancing). Older boys, in a co-educational dance class, will have the opportunity to learn partner work and add lifts to their lists of skills. If you can tell an audition panel that you are confident and familiar with safely performing lifts and stunts and dancing with a partner, you are already at an advantage and will stand out amongst dancers who do not share the same skillset as you.  This is also an advantage for female dancers. If there are males in your dance class, you have the opportunity to learn new skills and tricks that might not typically be available in an all-girl environment.

  4. Boys and girls learn from each other.
    Throughout my years as a dance teacher, I have experienced both co-ed and boys only classes. Generally speaking, the boys only classes were rowdier and less structured. Girls, on the other hand, are more naturally adapted to the structure and routine of a dance class, it’s in their nature. Even though the boy students so needed and would benefit from structure and routine, it was harder to implement into a class environment where the pack mentality was “it’s playtime”. In a co-ed environment, the students are influenced by the other children in the class. In particular, the boys gained a quicker understanding of the way a dance class is structured and why it is structured that way. When the rest of the class is following suit in warm up and activities and remembering choreography the boys caught on and did the same. They were still having fun but receiving the benefits of dance class much quicker! In the same way, girls are also influenced by male students. Boys bring the energy up and create a positive vibe in the studio, which as you’ve heard MSF teachers say before “energy is contagious” Boys are naturally brave and will give new steps or activities a go without much hesitation, this “go for it” attitude rubs off on the other students. Lots of boys love the opportunity to lead by example and be a role model. In a co-ed environment, they often rise to the challenge by setting a great example and encouraging their classmates. Voila! Now we have a high energy, productive class where kids are having fun and trying new things. Thanks, boys and girls!

  5. It promotes equality and fairness.
    Whether your child is male or female, young or old, beginner or advanced, at Main St Funk we treat all of our students as equals. We don’t want to tell boys that they can only participate in one particular style of class a week. We don’t want our female students to just accept that boys are entitled to a class that is exclusive and special just for them. Boys and girls, you are all important to us and we want you to feel comfortable in all of the many classes and opportunities we have available to you. And really, in 2019 when everyone is fighting for equality and acceptance, why are dance schools moving backward and continuing to segregate boys from girls? A good dance teacher should be able to cater to all of the individuals in the classroom and create a dynamic learning environment that benefits every student. It doesn’t matter if the class is co-educational or not, there will always be a variety of learning styles and personalities that the teacher needs to adapt to.

And so, the short version of this blog: “Why Should You Enrol Your Son Into A Co-Ed Dance Class?” A co-educational dance class will encourage your son to be a team player and to have a strong work ethic. Not only will he learn some killer dance moves but he will grow into a respectful, approachable and trustworthy young man who has an open mind and is prepared to live, work and dance in a diverse world where both genders play an important role.

During my time as a dance student I made many friends, lots of whom were male. So at the very least, a co-educational dance class might mean your child makes a few extra friends that they would otherwise not have had the opportunity to.

Right now, your son is probably just dancing for fun and to let off some of that after-school steam but at Main St Funk we see the bigger picture.

By Chloe Jobson – Co-Owner at Main St Funk Dance School and dance teacher to boys and girls for over 12 years.

Picking the Perfect Dance School – Using Your 5 Senses.

Well, the world has just said goodbye to one year and welcomed in another. The celebrations are nearly over which means that we barely have time to get over our food comas before we have to start getting organised for 2017. For many of us this means settling back into work while juggling the countless trips to and from the stationary and uniform shops to get the kids ready for another year of school.

On top of that, at some point about three weeks ago, your son or daughter looked up at you with big puppy dog eyes and said “I want to start dancing.” It has been at the forefront of their imagination and nag-ation (that’s not really a word but it means constant nagging) and now you’re convinced that it’s what they really want to do. So, you sit down and google “Dance Classes Northern Suburbs” and BAM! You’re hit with more than 15 dance schools in your area and that’s just on the first page. It all seems too overwhelming and you’re wondering if you can plonk your child in front of the TV watching reruns of Dance Academy instead.

No, you can’t and you don’t have to. All you need is your 5 senses and if you like everything you see, hear, smell, touch and taste, then you’ve got a winner!

SIGHT

  • Make sure you sit in and watch your child’s first lesson. It is important that you see what goes on in the classroom. Things to look out for are; is the class structured? Does the teacher have control of the room?
  • Take in your teachers’ body language – is he/she warm and inviting to the students?
  • Most importantly look at your own child. Are they comfortable and are they actively being included by the teacher and the other students?
  • Look at the other students coming and going to class. Are they leaving the studio elated, smiling and laughing? Or do they seem defeated and down?
  • Is it safe? Would you feel comfortable leaving your child there for an hour or more each week?
  • Are they using safe dance practices i.e. warm ups, cool downs and teaching the correct technique to prevent injuries?

HEARING

  • Listen for positive reinforcement and encouragement. Remember that corrections are a good thing but if you hear criticisms that aren’t constructive, it might not be a very positive environment.
  • Listen to the music. Are you comfortable with what’s coming out of the speakers? Is it age appropriate? Are the kids engaged? Do they enjoy dancing to it?
  • Ask around! Pop your head into the parents room and hear what the other mums are saying. Ask them why they picked this school. It pays to be nosy!
  • Now it’s just as important to take note of who’s hearing you. Did the staff at the school listen and acknowledge all of your questions or concerns?
  • Is your child being heard? Will he/she feel confident to put her hand up and ask questions in class?

TOUCH

This one is a little abstract but I think it’s one of the most important. When investigating dance schools you need to get physical. I would never recommend a child to sit and observe their trial class. They need to be up and giving it a go. It may seem like throwing them in the deep end but watching a class is usually more intimidating and leaves them feeling even more nervous about coming back the following week (that’s if they want to come back at all). Remind them that it is normal to feel nervous and that being the beginning of term, they probably aren’t the only first timer in the room.

SMELL

This may seem a bit silly but smell is important.
When you arrived did the studio smell clean and looked after? While this is good for hygiene and preventing the spread of germs that kids bring in from childcare and school, it also shows that the staff care about the studio and its patrons. Clean and tidy is a reflection of a great work ethic and that’s what you should be able to expect from your dance teachers.

TASTE

Now I’m not going to suggest that you literally go and lick the floor of the dance studio. Unless you think that would help then by all means…
It is so important that you get a real taste for the school before you pay any fees or sign any forms. Go to as many free trials and open days as you can. Ask to watch classes or even go along to any upcoming performances the school might be having. Trust your instinct here. Usually, if it feels right then it is right but don’t forget to find out how your child feels about the school too. While something might seem logical because of the price and the location it still might not be the right fit for them. Your child’s happiness and well being should always be the priority.

By picking the perfect dance school you are the picking the place where you will watch your child’s confidence grow and where they will meet their best friends. You are picking their solace, the place they look forward to going to after a long day of school. You will have your dance school to thank for all the years of blood, sweat, tears, laughter, fond memories and that cupboard full of childhood costumes that you won’t be able to bring yourself to throw away. So use your 5 senses wisely and pick the perfect dance school for your child.

By Chloe Jobson – Main St Funk Dance School Lalor