Lords of the Dance: Why dancing isn't just for girls

Lords of the dance: The dance company that's strictly all-male

Boys get stereotyped to play football or rugby - not to rehearse in a dance studio.

But at Matravers School in Wiltshire, things are different.

Dance isn't seen as just a subject for girls. Dance is presented as a subject for all and participation is the priority.

A culture of boys dancing has been developed over time and is now fully established due to numerous factors. Boys dance across Key Stage 3 (Year 7-9), with no questions asked - it is just the norm. This then carries through to upper school in Key Stages 4 and 5 (Year 10-13).

All three of us have chosen GCSE dance and we enjoy the creativity it allows and the opportunity to express ourselves. We also enjoy the combination of practical and theoretical study on the course as we learn more about dance as an art form.

Choreographer Matthew Bourne Matthew Bourne's all-male productions have inspired the Matravers School dancers

The three of us are also part of 'Endurance Dance Company' which is our all male company for students in Year 7-13.

Endurance Dance Company is an after-school club run by Miss Richards from the Dance Department, Mr Clark, who is head of dance, also pops in to help us out. We are taught choreography to perform but we also get the opportunity to create our own pieces.

We are currently working on a piece inspired by Matthew Bourne's 'Lord of the Flies'. This piece was chosen as we saw it earlier in the year and we were completely inspired.

For some members of Endurance Dance Company, it was the first time they had been to a theatre. Not only was it an inspiring piece with gripping choreography, it was an all-male cast.

Having a male head of department for a number of years has really helped show boys at school that there is so much opportunity for male dancers and it really is acceptable for boys to pursue a career in dance.

Endurance Dance Company in full flight The students gain great satisfaction out of choreographing their own pieces

We have great role models too, with older students in Endurance passing on their ideas to the younger dancers which means we get to try out difficult movement and challenge each other. It feels like we are a family now: like a football team, we all want each other to do well and to not let anyone down.

Endurance also allows us to use our physical energy to express ourselves and create exciting dance outcomes. We get to then share these dance outcomes through performance opportunities which is empowering and thrilling. Having hundreds of people watch you perform a piece of choreography that you are really proud of is really rewarding.

Dan's perspective:

I didn't really dance or do much performing before I came to Matravers. When I was in Year 7 I started and really enjoyed the experience of dancing and performing for an audience. I am now studying A-level dance and it is a subject that I have enjoyed throughout school and has helped me to stay motivated.

Joey's perspective:

I have always enjoyed performing and when I came to Matravers I discovered that I enjoyed dance as well as drama and music. I really enjoy studying GCSE dance and having the opportunity to show off my skills, shows and performances. Recently I played Don Lockwood in Singin' in the Rain at school and I got such a buzz out of the performances and also had the opportunity to learn and perform a bit of tap dancing in the show which was a lot of fun and a great challenge.

Cam's perspective:

As a gymnast I have always enjoyed physical challenges and showcasing my skills. Dance at Matravers has given me the opportunity to use my gymnastic skills in different ways and also learn about different ways of moving to show a theme or idea to the audience. There isn't really an issue with boys dancing at Matravers. A lot of boys choose to take dance at GCSE or A-level and in Key Stage 3 everyone just gets involved so people don't really make negative comments about it at all.

Following a recent performance in Bath, our head teacher was contacted by a number of people who had seen the show. The head from a local primary school wrote to say that "your male group of dancers were AMAZING - it was a stunning performance". We were all really proud to hear this feedback and know that people had gone to such an effort to contact the school.

It really motivated us to get back into the studio to start preparing for the next performance. I think that if you enjoy dance, boy or girl, you need to pursue it.

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