The boys number in the dance programs recent show, The Salon.
The boys’ number in the dance program’s recent show, “The Salon.”
Courtesy of Mrs. Jones

Los Al to introduce boys’ dance elective starting next year

Second period dance will now have a boys’ section

LOS ALAMITOS, CA — For the first time ever, Los Alamitos High School’s dance program is offering a section specifically for boys. Beginning next school year, guys can join the second period class and receive fine art, PE, or elective credit. Interested Griffins should contact their counselor to sign up; direct message Los Al dance on Instagram (@losaldanceprogam); or email the dance teacher, Mrs. Jones ([email protected]), with any questions.

“[Boys’ dance] has really only been in the works this year,” Mrs. Jones said. “I’ve always wanted more boys in the dance program but never really had the support to make it happen.”

That changed with Proposition 28: The Arts and Music in Schools Funding Guarantee and Accountability Act, which California voters approved in 2022. Prop 28 required California to establish an ongoing program starting 2023-2024 to support arts education in schools with funding for training, supplies, materials, and partnership programs. When Los Alamitos Unified School District asked how Mrs. Jones could grow her program with this money, she proposed a boys’ dance class. 

Los Al’s dance program is overwhelmingly female, with very few male dancers. This year, the dance program only has one boy. According to Mrs. Jones, this is the lowest the number of boys has ever been, and the ratio is around 150 to one.

Consequently, she regularly invites Los Al boys to participate in their school shows. The dance program opens male parts up to the entire school so that any guy, regardless of previous experience, can jump into a dance, Mrs. Jones said. In Los Al dance’s most recent show, “The Salon,” one number featured boy volunteers partnering with Advanced Dance girls. 

Boys partnering with Advanced Dance girls in “The Salon.” (Courtesy of Mrs. Jones)

“It was really fun working with the teacher, Mrs. Fight, because her way of teaching is really good,” said Los Al senior Matthew Castro, who danced in “The Salon.” “She walks us through the steps and even snaps while we’re doing it, so it’s easier to click in our heads.” 

With some dance experience from taking hip hop classes in elementary school and performing at carnivals, Castro heard about this opportunity through his friends and decided to try it this semester. He said that if he were still going to be at Los Al next year, he would consider taking the boys’ dance elective. 

“Even if you’re slightly interested in dancing, if you don’t have any experience I think it’s worth a shot,” Castro said, “I know a lot of people get scared off because [they think] it’s mainly interpretive dancing, but because it’s a specific boys’ class, I feel like a lot more guys would be more into that.”

Mrs. Jones’ second period is Beginning Dance, but the boys’ section will be flexible, and they can audition into other levels. She is planning to start with hip-hop and steps that involve strength, jumps, and the more athletic side of dance. Then, she will introduce jazz, ballet, and partner work like lifts. 

“The boys will be whatever level they show up in. We’ve always been able to teach different levels within the same group,” Mrs. Jones said. 

Based on the boys who attended the program’s recent “bring a friend to dance day,” Mrs. Jones feels optimistic about numbers for boys’ dance next year. However, she acknowledged that the past lack of boys is likely because of the other options that Los Al boys think of first, like athletics and choir. 

I would like to think that the stigma of [dance] not being manly enough was gone, but I think that probably is still part of society. But it’s quite the opposite. If athletes cross-train, they should come to dance because they’re going to improve in strength, coordination, and agility.”

— Mrs. Jones

Dance is a very gendered industry. In ballet classes specifically, girls outnumber boys 20 to one, reports the Women’s Media Center. However, according to Forbes, the Data Dance Project found that 72% of the top 50 American ballet companies had male artistic directors in 2019. Choreography for these companies has been similarly dominated by men. 

“Studio owners are mostly women, and your dance teachers are mostly women. Once you get to professional companies, it switches,” said Ms. Barringer, another Los Al dance teacher. “It’s a pretty old-school fallback. Let’s fix it right now!”

The introduction of boys’ dance at Los Al could contribute to more gender equality in the dance world. Mrs. Jones said this is an opportunity that Los Al boys will not have after high school. Beyond the physical benefits, they will also create strong bonds with other dancers (with the side benefit of meeting a lot of sweet girls, she added jokingly).

“It’s an experience like nothing else. They’re going to get that feeling of being an artist featured on stage [and] have a family to belong to,” Mrs. Jones said.

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    ACJun 7, 2024 at 11:18 am

    This is such a great opportunity! I feel like more guys will be comfortable especially if hip hop is going to be introduced.