E: Do you have any tips for parents with sons enrolled in dance classes?
Gallucci: If your child happens to be in a female-dominated class, it could be worth trying to expose them to masterclasses or intensives that include other boys to experience being surrounded by other male dancers.
Burden: Ensure you find a teacher/school which nurtures your young man. Teachers love having boys – it’s just important that they know how to push and teach them. If you can find a school with a male teacher, or a male teacher for coaching, that’s a plus.
Podesta: My parents were awesome! They saw that I had found something that I loved. Although they knew little about it, which caused difficulties in understanding the right path for me in regards to training for the professional dance industry, they did everything they could to support my dream. I always tell parents to get involved, and don’t just wait for performances. Watch classes and ask for little demonstrations at home! Being a dancer is something to be proud of, and your interest will encourage healthy confidence and development.
E: How can we, as an industry and in the broader community, work to support male dancers?
Gallucci: The dance community is, of course, the least judgemental towards men in ballet. But I think we should continue to keep an open mind and not expect one certain thing from a male dancer. We should be allowed to be as multifaceted and versatile as possible!
Burden: Understand what a male dancer needs, and their differences and difficulties. Language for me is a big one, especially when they are young, potentially being bullied at school, and struggling with their choice. One example is addressing the class as, “girls”, is sometimes a little frustrating for the boy in the class. Being inclusive is important, but being sensitive to the language that is used could help.
Podesta: By embracing it as a skill no less demanding that that of a sports person or athlete. A boy who goes to dance classes every week will be putting in just as much effort and focus as a boy of the same age playing football, cricket or any other sport. Spread the word of what these young boys in dance are doing, congratulate their efforts, and bring it to the attention of as many [people] as we can!
(Photo of young male dancer with parent if possible? Alternatively, two young male dancers together)
E: How has being a dancer helped you grow as a person, beyond dance?
Burke: Dancing is a craft which requires thousands of hours. It gives my life a purpose; for that, I am extremely grateful.
Gallucci: I would say that dance has definitely opened my eyes artistically and creatively, giving me the ability to appreciate different forms of dance or art that I may have otherwise deemed strange or grotesque.
Burden: I have been fortunate to travel the world and learn other languages. I have lived in and worked in England, America, Germany, Singapore and Australia. I have also met lifelong friends, and my wife. My can-do attitude and determination also come from years in a competitive dance environment.
Podesta: Dance has literally given me a life of friendship, love, family, inspiration, and worldly experiences which I am so grateful for. It has taught me empathy and compassion, as well as self-reflection, enabling coping skills for the highs and lows we all experience.