A little over a week ago, Lara Spencer of "Good Morning America" did a segment on Prince George's school curriculum, which includes ballet lessons. Prince William went so far as to say that George enjoys ballet a lot. Spencer responded with laughter, prompting the live audience to laugh with her. She then said of George's love of ballet "we'll see how long that lasts." The dance world responded with immediate and justified anger, with responses to the segment filling up the social media accounts of dance students and professionals alike.
It's shocking that in 2019 it still seems unacceptable or even out of the realm of possibility that young boys could enjoy ballet. What's worse is that Spencer and her audience not only made fun of young boys learning how to dance, but in the process mocked an entire profession, one that includes a lot of men. Many men devote their lives to the study of ballet and its so ignorant of Spencer and her audience to discount it as acceptable even for a child in elementary school.
The dance community of course responded with more dance, holding a ballet class in Times Square where hundreds of young boys and professional dancers displayed their love for the art form. Professional dancers Robbie Fairchild, Travis Wall and Fabrice Calmels also sat down with Lara Spencer to have a discussion about her comments where she formally apologized. The response acted as a beautiful display of what young children, boys and girls alike, can accomplish when they devote themselves to such an incredible art form.
Spencer made a mistake, and apologized when prompted by the entire dance world. However, Fox News host Laura Ingraham was quick to speak her mind regarding the whole scenario, discussing with a guest on her show about how ballet just isn't "masculine." The two went on to discuss how Spencer should offend mechanics next so that boys can learn how to change the oil of a car. Further, they mocked the videos of male dancers taking class in Times Square.
It's alarming that the discussion had to be had in the first place, because the response to Prince George taking ballet should have been positive. However, to respond to Spencer's apology with further mocking of boys who dance just says something so negative about American culture. This isn't just about young kids being able to pursue whatever they please, but it's about being aware of how wonderful ballet is and what a challenging career path it is. Professional dancers make immeasurable sacrifices in pursuit of their craft and they should be congratulated rather than torn down.
What's also important to recognize is that England clearly understands the importance of ballet. The royal family is encouraging its children to take ballet, which speaks to how valued dance is within the entire country. That culture is obviously quite different from the United States, where the choice is made to make fun of children who love to dance. We need to take a serious look at our values and expectations for the media if this is where we are.