There are many socio-economical and patriarchal reasons for Gender-Based Violence, but I’m not an expert. Harsh movements have been necessary as women are calling out men and saying that we are all responsible for what other men do. If this is the case, this is then a pandemic and whether we want to admit it or not, it is our responsibility to speak and act against it.
What I’ve decided is that I will contribute to a more positive narrative around this and that I will actively do something in my area of influence to combat this scourge on our society.
One of my major areas of influence is the dance industry.
Not only was I a dancer for decades, but I also teach and choreograph dance and run a dance studio - with other males influenced by me. Not as many males as I would like, mind you, but every one of them is special to me. I see every student (and the teachers) as mentees and try to be a positive role model. We speak about these ‘taboo’ topics and we address them head-on because I believe that things that are hidden or secret are not always positive. So, we bring them into the light and we discuss them openly.
There is a stigma attached to men who dance. These stigmas vary from men who dance being “casanovas” or effeminate (this is strictly a problem for men who don’t want to be seen that way). Dance is creativity, expression, an art form, a sport and a career option. Throughout human history, men AND women have expressed themselves physically through dance. Men can move with women and experience a moment, a connection, a dance and enjoy it - without it becoming a sexual expression. Touch is one of our senses. Dancing engages not only touch when dancing with another person but sight and hearing - (I thought it better not to mention smell here, ask any dancer who has been dancing for a few hours haha).
Modern society has given “couple/partner dancing” a ‘bad rep’ to some degree. Just a few decades ago in South Africa, we had dance parties - where gentlemen and ladies dressed up and spent evenings in the age-old tradition of connection… dancing with the evening away with various partners. There are countless movies and references. In my opinion, we need to get back to those days - when we can train up young boys and men to enjoy physical movement in a fun, respectful way and by extension, enjoy women moving their bodies, without sexualising it.
All cultures have both men and women dancing, but there is nothing quite like couples dancing. There is almost an ethereal experience when all stars align and you dance with a great partner. Few things compare to a moment shared on the dance floor. To this day, in many cultures, couple dancing is an art form: think of Salsa, Argentine Tango, Kizomba, Ballroom, Sokkie…
Who doesn’t appreciate Antonio Banderas doing passionate Tango in the movie Take The Lead or hasn’t been mesmerised by Richard Gere and Jennifer Lopez doing the Waltz in Shall We Dance? Derek Hough, as a Latin dance specialist, has become quite a sensation as a male dancer on Dancing With The Stars, USA and World Of Dance television series - don’t get lost on YouTube watching him move ;-).
What woman wouldn’t love her guy to grab her hand and live out the moment of putting on music and dancing in the kitchen? Your grandparents probably did it…
To bring it closer to home and to reality, these days parents don’t encourage their sons to dance. Why this is, is beyond me. Dance refines social skills and interaction; it’s a wonderful form of exercise, a means of expression and builds confidence amongst a number of other positive reasons. I know of so many parents who would want to balance out their kids being so enveloped in screen time with having these skills instilled in them intentionally.
As far as careers go, there are many men from South Africa who have gone on to be very successful in their dance work. Dance doesn’t have to be your career, mind you, but I am pointing out that it is a feasible and viable option whether it’s full time or part-time. Male dancers from South Africa who have amazing careers are Gregory Nqoma (Contemporary), Andile Ndlovu (Ballet), Iain MacDonald (Ballet) to name but a few. From the Latin and Ballroom industry, there are World Superstars from South Africa. Do yourself a favour and look up Johannes Radebe, Cameron Lombard, Keoikantse (Keo) Motsepe, Darren Hammond, Dylon Daniels and many more…
We will be featuring Male Dancers on our social media channels over the coming weeks so watch out for some wonderful interviews and insights from our homegrown talent.
I am looking forward to welcoming more boys and men into our studios this year because it is one way that I can make a difference to positively influence not only current culture but the future generations. Be swept away in this dance of intentionally instilling excellence in our boys and join us on this journey.
Written by: Quintus Jansen