Stigma and Perseverance in the Lives of Boys who Dance: An Empirical Study of Male Identities in Western Theatrical Dance Training
This study investigates the competitive world of pre-professional Western concert dance training and education in the United States as experienced and lived by boys and young men, an under-represented population in the field. This work examines the discourses of professional dance preparation through theoretical and narrative approaches that elucidate the highly gendered professional dance world as evidenced through the minds and bodies of male adolescents and young adults. Dance, its training and social meanings, has a rich history and long-time associations with gender and gender roles in world culture. While dance in some cultures is seen as an appropriate activity and valid vocation for males, the dominant Western paradigm positions concert dance as a predominantly "female" activity and art form. Encouraging male participation has historically involved well intentioned but frequently heterosexist approaches that idealize noteworthy heterosexual male dancers, focus on masculinist comparisons between male athletes (presumably heterosexual) and male dancers, and encourage greater male participation by minimizing or ignoring the significant population of gay males in dance. The study's substantial social implications about gender, femininity, masculinity, homophobia, sexual orientation, gendered bodies, and child culture will appeal to multiple readerships interested in arts education, humanizing pedagogies, and social justice concerns.
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