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MUSIC videos and TV talent searches have been given some credit for the growing number of Tasmanian boys taking up dancing.

By Blair Richards
The Mercury
Photograph by Raoul Kockanowski
February 19, 2012

Hobart [Tasmania] dance academies are reporting a surge in the number of boys taking lessons.

Hutchins [School] head of visual and performing arts Michelle Weeding said there had been a change of culture at the highly traditional boys school over the past 10 years, and dance was becoming as much a part of school life as sport.

About 200 boys take part in the dancing program and dance is part of the curriculum for Year 9. “Ten years ago this wouldn’t have been possible,” Mrs Weeding said. “We have really worked hard at changing the culture in our school.”

“The culture in the community has changed, because of the popular dancing shows [on television]. Boys think it’s cool and want to have a go.”

Mrs Weeding said it had been a challenge to shift long-held perceptions that dance was a girls’ activity and that the cool boys played sport. “Those stereotypes about boys who dance aren’t there any more,” she said.

Hutchins dance captain Callum Gugger said being a dancer had made him the target of teasing in the past. However, he said attitudes towards male dancers had improved a lot in recent years.

Hobart Dance Academy principal Ken McSwain, who enjoyed a long and distinguished career as a professional ballet dancer, said the tide had definitely turned.

Mr McSwain said when he began his career dancing was not considered a masculine pursuit. “It came with the tag of being very feminine, but those barriers seem to have broken down,” he said. “When I started, men supposedly didn’t dance.”

“With all the video clips you see these days, it’s becoming much more acceptable.”

Jenina Evans, who has produced a number of top dancers at her Hobart dance school, said in recent years there had been a steep rise in the number of boys enrolling. “Years ago you would have 15 dance groups, with only five boys spread amongst them. Now we’ve got a boy in every group, and in a couple of my older groups we have at least six boys,” she said.

Mrs Evans also attributed the popularity of dance among boys to programs like So You Think You Can Dance.

“And lets face it when they get older, girls love a guy who can dance,” Mrs Evans said.

© 2011 Davies Brothers Pty Ltd.

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