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TV shows, athlete participation have more boys dancing
By Jim Haug
The Datona Beach News-Journal
October 28, 2014


[Daytona Beach, Florida, USA] – John Zamborsky, 14, a freshman at Spruce Creek High School, dreams of making it big as a dancer in Broadway musicals.“That’s a tough nut to crack, but I feel the sky is the limit,” he said.

A dancer for seven years, Zamborsky said one factor that won’t stop him is any social stigma against boys who dance. “If you are interested, don’t let something like a stereotype or a group of people who like to single out male dancers keep you from doing what you really want to do,” he said.

“Just follow your heart,” Zamborsky said.

Tanner Naronha-Weeks, 11, at his ballet class in South Beach Dance studio (Lola Gomez, News-Journal) 2014Like Zamborsky, Tanner Noronha Weeks, 11, is a dancer at the South Beach Dance Academy in downtown Daytona Beach. He got into dancing when his younger sister, Natara, 10, started taking classes.

Tanner is now in his fifth year of dance. “This is what I love,” he said.

Tap is his favorite form of dance. He has entertained at retirement homes. But he also takes classes in jazz, hip hop, ballet and musical theater. His instructors estimate that he takes about 18 hours of instruction a week for both classes and training for dance competitions.

His mother, Lorriane Noronha, recalled a time when “he didn’t want anyone to know that he did dance. But I believe that we need to make our kids strong inside, proud of what they need to do, and let them pursue what they like.”

One reason that dancing appeals is that boys get to meet girls.“You learn about the opposite gender,” Zamborsky said. “I know I don’t hang out with that many girls at school. Being here is a different atmosphere. It’s a breath of fresh air.”

“Girls can give you advice with girls,” he explained. “They can give you a different perspective, essentially.”

Tanner said the dance school is like one “big family.” The people he has met “have been there for me, even when I have gone through rough times,” Tanner said.

Matthew Mahoney, co-owner of South Beach Dance Academy, 129 N. Palmetto Ave., estimates that 10 percent of the academy’s students are male. “We’ve always had a small group, but this is the most we’ve had,” Mahoney said. “I would say the dance shows on TV, like ‘So You Think You Can Dance?’ and ‘Dancing with the Stars,” has inspired more men to come in.”

Jerome DeVito, the other co-owner of the South Beach Dance Academy, so-named because it used to be located on South Beach Street, said the participation of so many professional athletes on the popular dance shows has made it easier for boys to take up dance.

Former football stars like Jerry Rice of the San Francisco 49ers and Emmitt Smith of the Dallas Cowboys are a few of the athletes who have participated on “Dancing with the Stars.”

“I think the teasing at school is less and less nowadays,” DeVito said.

Dancing also appeals to men as a form of exercise. The school has gotten football players to take dance classes in the offseason, Mahoney said.

“It’s a whole different discipline and structure for boys,” DeVito said. “You’re using all the muscles in your body. It gives the boys twice the amount of coordination.”

Boys can be more business-like about dance than the girls.“For the girls, it’s more of a social thing, they say (to one another) ‘I like that leotard,’” DeVito said. “Guys don’t care about that. They’re here to get strong.”

Dancing is not for wimps. Male ballet dancers, for example, have to wear a dance belt, which is essentially an athletic supporter. “Any guy who is going to do that is serious about dance,” DeVito said. “If you can go on stage in a pair of tights, you’re brave.”


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