19 November 2020 08:51

International Men’s Day 2020

Today is International Men’s Day, and two of the areas on which it is focusing this year are:

  • Making a positive difference to the wellbeing and lives of men and boys
  • Promoting a positive conversation about men, manhood and masculinity

As such, we’re featuring three men who are leading the way in dance: Bernard, a Silver Swans student; Jason, a Project B teacher; and Alan, a late starter who became a professional dancer.

Bernard Bibby (Silver Swan)

‘At 76 and a bereaved man I miss the company of ladies, so what better why that to join a dance class made up of ladies.

I also do a standard ballet class and have just taken and passed my RAD Grade 1 ballet exam and I have gained a “bronze” as a pass, not bad for an old man, yes?

I hope that this will get you all thinking that 50% of the population are male and need some positive encouragement to get out from in front of the TV and socialise and exercise at the same time.

Apart from my three hours of ballet a week, I have started classes for Grade 2, I also try Ballroom, salsa and some Latin. I did start my dancing after my wife of 55 years passed away some five years ago.

I sold the TV and when out dancing, socialising and I am the Kent Ambassador for the dedicated male cancer charity ORCHID, we deal with Testicular, Prostate and Penile cancer. I give presentations on the subject to organisation like the Police, SAGA Group schools/collages and interested groups to get men to understand how their bodies function and what to look out for.’

Found out more about Silver Swans.

Jason Thomas (RAD Teacher)

The RAD’s Project B initiative has had a really positive impact. The boys who have taken part in the activities have been very vocal about it with their friends which has resulted in lots of new male students joining and trying all different styles, from ballet to hip hop. A couple of the boys were teased a little bit, but Project B encouraged them to want to stick with it – they love it.

I was teased too as a kid but was lucky enough to go away to a ballet school, so didn’t have that problem there. It happened when I would come back home, but things are very different now. Schools are much more on board with promoting dance to boys. My students don’t feel that being a boy who dances matters as they can come here and do things like Project B which makes it all worthwhile. I’ve noticed that boys don’t give up on dancing so much nowadays either.

Read more about Jason’s work teaching boys ballet.

Alan Foster (Dance Teacher)

At nineteen I saw my first ballet. Swan Lake, the Northern Ballet Theater. But I wasn’t in the audience. I was on stage, standing on the right-hand side, right at the back. I had a job as an extra and for two weeks I stood at the back dressed as a kind of court gentleman during the Black Swan pas de deux.

There was another extra, too. He stood on the left-hand side of the stage, and unlike me, he had ballet experience. He was called Radovan, he was seventeen and had just gained a place at Central School of Ballet in London.

Radovan told me all about the ballet world, he told me the names of steps, names of the most famous dancers in the world, (Baryshnikov was his idol) the best schools and also exactly what Swan Lake was about. It was all so new and exciting. Watching princes do a double tour en l’air and pirouettes, seeing black swans whip through fouettés. Watching the conductor guide the orchestra through each act and listening to the applause of the audience, all of this had a huge impact on me. I wanted in on this ballet world, and by the end of the two weeks I was hell-bent on becoming a professional ballet dancer, the only problem was that I was nineteen and had never taken a ballet lesson in my life.

Read more of Alan’s story.