18 November 2021 10:21

Happy International Men’s Day!

Friday 19 November is International Men’s Day and the theme this year is ‘Better Health for Men and Boys’. We’ve put together a variety of resources to help our male-identifying dance community with support, inspiration, and advice for their mental and physical health.

 

Resilience and fortitude

Injury affects many dancers at different stages throughout their training or career.  We recently caught up with Australian dancer Steven McRae, Principal with The Royal Ballet who suffered a severe Achilles tendon injury live on stage at the Royal Opera House in 2019. It has taken Steven two years of gruelling rehabilitation to get back on stage and perform once more. In this interview, Steven talks about his early exposure to dance, the pressures on young professional dancers, the process of recovery with the support of a fellow Aussie, and how companies can help dancers increase their longevity through scheduling more rest.

 

Image: The Dream. Steven McRae as Oberon. ®ROH, Bill Cooper, 2014

 

Purpose and Wellbeing

Finding our purpose can be a lifelong quest. Romàn Baca, Artistic Director of EXIT 12 Dance Company knew from a young age he wanted to make a difference and help people. His journey is a fascinating one. A professional ballet dancer, he abandoned the stage to join the US Military in a bid to do good. His experiences of war ultimately led him back to dance in order to support his own and others’ wellbeing. We spoke to him about going back to Iraq to work with Iraqi youth through movement, working with Veterans to help them share their stories, and how he believes dance has the power to change and heal.

Find out more about the work of EXIT 12 Dance Company and watch their award-winning film Moved by War.

Image: Exit 12 by C Tracy Dorman

Puberty and male dancers

Puberty is an interesting time for anyone but for male dancers this can be a challenge as they transition through a period of physical change including effects such as a temporary loss of grace and coordination. Here are some articles which talk about puberty and how to manage it.

Physiological perspectives on puberty in dance by Siobhan Mitchell on behalf of the IADMS Dance Educators’ Committee 

Boys to Men : Strength training for male dancers entering puberty

 

 

Telling the story right from a young age

A new book to be published called My Daddy Can Fly! Co-authored by American Ballet Theatre Principal Thomas Forster seeks to inspire future generations to be proud of their male ballet dancers.

The story is “a heartwarming tale about Forster’s 4-year-old son, Ben, featuring colorful illustrations by Jami Gigot. As Ben and his friends play in the dress-up corner of their classroom, they each share what they want to be when they grow up. Ben wants to be strong, gentle, fierce and fast; he wants to fly—just like his daddy. While his friends are convinced Ben’s daddy must be a pilot, he gives them a few more clues before proudly sharing what his dad really does.”

Read more >

Image: Book cover published by Random House Publishing

 

Bullying and Mentoring

Ballet Jörgen’s “Boys Who Dance” Campaign Helps Young Danseurs With Virtual Mentorships
Ballet Jörgen in Canada believes in ‘Dance for All’ and has recently launched a campaign that includes Town Halls and one-on-one virtual mentorships between its male dancers and boys from all over the world. The program aims to help students overcome bullying, negative stereotyping, and other challenges they may face during their training. The campaign’s mentorship program allows students ages 9 to 17 to be paired with one of Ballet Jörgen’s seven male professional dancers. The company members received mentorship training from a certified dance educator and counselor.

 

Exercise and Strength training

A male dancer does not only have to keep themselves fit and strong as a dancer but they have the added responsibility of pas de deux work which requires them to lift and support another dancer safely. Below are some articles which reference the importance of nutrition and exercise.

The real life diet and training routine of a male ballet dancer –  The Australian Ballet’s Cristiano Martino talks to GQ Magazine

Conditioning exercises for ballet dancers – the second half of this article speaks directly about male dancers

Image: by Keith Hiro

 

Gender and Identity

Featured in this article, Scout Alexander, a dancer at Inlet Dance Company in Cleveland US was born female and had to train that way for the first 17 years before beginning his transition and adopting male pronouns. He earned a full male scholarship to BalletMet’s 2018–19 trainee program before becoming a trainee with Inlet.

“I had to choose between not dancing at all and living my truth,” said Scout who had to adjust to hormone treatment, recover from surgery to flatten his chest and build strength for partnering.

At the RAD we pride ourselves on a commitment to supporting dancers like Scout, which is why our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Policy states “candidates, may enter for their preferred syllabus according to the gender with which they choose to identify in relation to dance.”

Image: By Quinn De Anna of Scout Alexander as seen in Pointe Magazine

 

Mental Health

Mental health is something that may present challenges for anyone and while some dancers may need support to manage the pressures of performing at an elite level, others enjoy the benefits of emotional and physical release through movement. Explore these articles on the subject of dance and mental health.

Dance Wellness with Dr Peter Lovatt

Meet three dancers battling mental health stigmas

A very personal essay on the mental health of a young male ballet dancer by Luke Lankin (UK) published by Voice magazine – a platform for young people’s views on arts, culture, tech and politics.

RAD Australia has recently worked with Performing Arts and Life Counsellor Will Centurion. A dancer/performer himself Will is well placed if you would like support with your own  mental health. For more info see Will’s website here.  If you need support urgently please contact one of the following services:

Image: Photo by WinkiPop Media

 

Tell us your stories

If you have any inspirational stories as a male-identifying member of the RAD Community, we’d love to hear from you. Whether you are a student or a teacher, your voices are our voices. Contact marketing@rad.org.au to share them.