Tristan Johnson, Arts & Entertainment Editor
On Aug. 23, “Good Morning America” host Lara Spencer poked fun at Prince George during a segment on the curriculum of his second year at St. Thomas’s School in Battersea. She stated, while poorly trying to hide her laughter and condescending tone, that “the future king of England will be putting down the Play-Doh to take on religious studies, computer programming, poetry, and ballet… among other things. Prince William says George absolutely loves ballet. I have news for you Prince William- we’ll see how long that lasts.”
Backlash quickly spread throughout the arts community, and many prominent voices took to social media to express their disappointment in Spencer. Male dancers wrote about and expressed how much dancing means to them, and how hard it is to be a male and wanting to dance. Her comments towards Prince George, a young child, reinforces stereotypes that young boys and men should not take up the art; and if they do, ridicule will certainly follow.
Boys who dance or take up any passion in the arts, are often mocked for being feminine or are stereotyped as gay. Neither of these things are something to be ashamed of but are sometimes not true and prevent young boys interested in artistic hobbies from following their passions for fear of being mocked by their peers. According to a study done by sociologist Doug Risner of Wayne State University, 93 percent of boys participating in ballet experienced some type of teasing, and 68 percent experienced verbal or physical harassment. From further studies, Risner found that 11 percent had been a victim of physical harm because of studying dance.
Not only is ballet a beautiful art form, but it can also make someone a better overall athlete. Dancing can help you read the body language of others and make you aware of your own body, which ultimately leads to analyzing how best to approach an opponent. Ballet, and other forms of dance, can provide more lower-body strength, an increased sense of balance, and can make one feel stronger overall.
Spencer, after receiving many complaints and being asked to apologize during her next segment on “Good Morning America,” stated on Instagram “from ballet to anything one wants to explore in life, I say GO FOR IT. I fully believe we should be free to pursue our passions. Go climb your mountain-and love every minute of it.”
During her next GMA segment on Aug. 26, she stated to everyone watching the live broadcast, “I screwed up. I did. The comment I made about dance was insensitive. It was stupid and I am deeply sorry. I have spoken with several members of the dance community over the past few days. I have listened. I have learned about the bravery it takes for a young boy to pursue a career in dance.”
While Spencer was airing her apology, hundreds of dancers were holding a dance class below the “Good Morning America” studio in Times Square, chanting complaints towards the host. Posters with the words “Boys dance too!” lined the streets of Manhattan as the dancers performed. Alex Wong, star of “So You Think You Can Dance,” was at the public performance and stated on social media “I almost didn’t start dancing when I was young- I constantly said ‘dancing is only for girls.’ It took 2 years for my parents to convince me and I’m so glad I did. I hope the next generation of boys don’t have to deal with the same type of bullying a lot of us had to deal with…”
Instead of mocking a child for what they like to do, how about we as a society embrace and encourage children to follow their passions and hobbies. Why should we stop a child, regardless of their notoriety, to take up an artistic hobby that they enjoy? If Prince George, or any other young child in the world, is enamored by the beautiful art that is ballet, they should be allowed to dance like no one is watching without judgement.