Pacific School of Dance lands grant for free boys dance class, training them in ballet, conditioning, partnering
By Chelsea Davis
Coos Bay World
May 20, 2015
[Coos Bay, Oregon, USA] – Dance isn’t just for girls — but training boys is an entirely different animal. Ten boys joined a new class this spring at Pacific School of Dance in Coos Bay. The opportunity came from a $5,000 grant Dance Umbrella for South Coast Oregon received from the Charlotte Martin Foundation.
After 16 weeks of class, the public will get a chance to see them on stage at the dance center’s annual recital May 30 at the Hales Center for the Performing Arts on the SWOCC campus.
The boys’ experience ranged from beginner to intermediate, with older boys from the Pacific School of Dance stepping in to serve as role models.
“Drew and Will (Carper), they’re brothers, and they just happened to … come into the area just about the time that this thing came into being, and they heard about it,” said Pacific administrative director Pam Chaney. “They had done a little bit of dancing with another school in Vancouver, Wash. They moved to this area, waited until they got all settled, then they heard about this program and came right over and signed up for it.”
Chaney has dubbed Will “the girl-thrower,” since his strength lends him to partnering.
The grant paid for the boys’ costumes, shoes, membership and tuition, and lasts through the end of the calendar year. “They just had to show up with a willing spirit to dance and put their hearts into it, and they’ve been really good about that,” Chaney said.
In the recital, teacher Maria Rosman adapted the barn dance from “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers,” which the boys will perform with girls from Pacific’s regular classes. “It should be a fun, lively piece,” Rosman said.
The biggest challenge, for both Rosman and the boys, has been adapting to the etiquette of a dance studio. “You don’t always get it,” Chaney said. “It’s not like playing sports. You don’t get to talk. It’s athletic, but it involves a lot of politeness, manners, keeping their hands to themselves.”
Rosman has also adapted to teaching a group of boys — far different than teaching the typical studio of girls. “Classroom etiquette in a dance room is a lot different,” Rosman said. “That’s probably been the most difficult part. Boys have different energy than girls — they’re a whole different species. They’re fun, but they have so much pep and zing so I need to bring their focus in.
“I find that if I keep the class moving and keep them active, they stay with me. It’s been a wonderful challenge for me to take that energy and direct it through the classroom and make it productive.”
Rosman started at the very beginning, training the boys in basic barre work, including pliés and tendus. They also worked on strength and conditioning to get ready for partnering later on.
“I had them for a very short amount of time, so it’s a challenge to put them on stage,” Rosman said. “I wish we could actually perform maybe in the fall when I could’ve had more time to get something into them. I got them after Christmas, I have them for one hour a week, so we’ve been working on coordination, articulation of the feet.”
But the parents’ feedback has been rewarding, she said. “Some of the parents after class say their sons just love it,” Rosman said. “I feel like I’m making a breakthrough.”
© Copyright 2015, Coos Bay World