A network of male dance and film artists worked with boys in schools, youth centres, Pupil Referral Units and a prison across the West Midlands over a three year period. The experience has had a profound impact on participants, many of whom had to overcome their initial perception of dance as something that was not for them. The results were outstanding, with several high quality live performances and the creation of dance films broadcast on the BBC Big Screens around the country.
Participants all stated that they had enjoyed the dancing, that they had found something they like doing, and most said that they felt more confident (93%) and that their physical fitness improved (85%). Teachers and youth workers also observed improvements in co-ordination, team-working, co-operation, listening and communication skills. Parents confirmed that boys were more socially confident. 100% of participants reported that they had been ‘inspired by the dance artists who worked with them’. This included 9 trainee dance artists or ‘apprentices’, who worked alongside the lead dance artists, all of whom provided strong, positive role models for the young men.
“The dance project has really given the boys a focus. Some of them find school difficult and to see their concentration and commitment is fantastic. To see a group of boys from different backgrounds working together is great. Mention the dance project and the boys’ eyes light up!”
Head teacher, Participating school
By the end of their time with the project, most participants had realised that dance can be for boys. This transformation in attitude is testimony to the skills of the dance artists – including Adam Rutherford and Dave McKenna – who offered a highly physical, dynamic street dance style that was undoubtedly ‘cool’ enough for any self-respecting teenage boy!
“I was able to perform live in front of an audience”
“I am more confident in myself”
“I could express myself in a different way to usually”
“I could make up my own material.”
Quotes from participants
Boys Dancing was part of the Legacy Trust UK programme Dancing for the Games, with additional funding from Arts Council England.
This article was originally published in Cultural Olympiad and London 2012 Festival in the West Midlands: A Record. Reproduced with kind permission of Dancing for the Games.
For cultural and creative organisations, the Cultural Olympiad presented an opportunity to take risks, and to work in a new way.
The Voyage was a large-scale dance theatre production in Victoria Square, Birmingham, led by Motionhouse and produced by Birmingham Hippodrome.