Kat is a mum whose son has been involved in Boys Dancing projects for over three years. She also works at a school that is currently participating in Boys Dancing.
"My involvement with Boys Dancing was initially purely as a parent. I saw how much my son Sam enjoyed it and how much he got out of it. Sam was quite hesitant when he first started, although he had done some dance before. He’d always loved dance. But Boys Dancing was the first time he’d really thrown himself into a dance project. Now he’s been involved for three years, he’s really become so confident.
In the dance classes that Sam has been to in the past, the vast majority were girls. I think that boys are self-conscious about dancing in front of girls. Sam lost interest in going to mixed dance classes as he didn’t like to be in a huge group of girls, whereas with Boys Dancing there’s none of that self consciousness.
As parents, the chance to see your child on stage is amazing. Seeing our children perform on big professional stages like Theatre Severn and Warwick Arts Centre just blew us away. So I feel that, as a parent, I also got a lot out of it as well as my son. All parents are proud of their children - it’s natural. So seeing your child achieving something - especially something really different like dance - is fantastic. Even if they never do anything more with dance in their life, they’ve got that experience to draw on. And the filmed performance is something we can keep as a momento, forever.
Everyone that was involved was so enthusiastic and Adam [choreographer] was fantastic with the children. He was quite strict, which is brilliant, but he was so enthusiastic and really encouraged them. Sam has definitely developed in his confidence, his focus and his enthusiasm for dance.
So, having had such a fantastic first-hand experience of Boys Dancing as a parent, when the chance arose for new schools to get involved in 2013, I immediately approached the school where I work. Once I explained how great the project is they were all really enthused and up for it. You get emails to schools suggesting things all the time, but as soon as I saw the one about Boys Dancing, I instantly wanted to take up the offer as I knew all about it, so it was easy to sell it to everyone else at school.
The challenge came when we first spoke to the boys at school about doing it. Some of their immediate reactions were “Well I don’t want to do dance. I can’t dance.” But we persuaded them to just try the taster session and see what they think - and from that, in fact, the vast majority of them did go on to do the project. It’s hard if you have inhibitions, but once they’ve had a go, everyone thoroughly enjoyed it!
The project is so good as boys that potentially have talent in something like dance aren’t usually encouraged much - the path tends to veer towards sports, more often than not. So this opportunity is invaluable - to be creative, to do physical activity that they really enjoy, and to have all those memories of what they’ve achieved. And to be honest, whether a boy is talented or not it doesn’t really matter, because they get the opportunity to enjoy it and have fun. It’s fantastic on so many levels.
What’s been particularly great to see is some of the boys that perhaps aren’t the most athletic, or naturally gifted; how they have tried so hard and really achieved much more than we ever thought they would. Their concentration and focus has surprised us. They’ve been able to listen to Adam and follow instructions really well. And some of the moves they’ve been taught are really difficult, so it challenges them, but they do achieve it. So it’s good for their physical and mental development, as well as the creative and social side of things.
It’s really special to have an opportunity to work with a professional dance artist - particularly at our smaller, more rural schools, who perhaps don’t get the range of opportunities because we’re just further away from things. Each year the project has been different - which I think is important. Quite how they’re going to top it next year I don’t know! But I’m sure that with all the imagination of everyone involved they’ll think of something!"