Minerva Learning Trust
4th June 2019

Boys Dance in Mainstream Education

DiME – Boys Dance in Mainstream Education

How do I even begin to tell you the journey of Boys DiME? 

As a Dance Teacher it can be hard to make people understand the depths of what you do day in and day out, not to mention the long hours you have to put in, just to see little progress being made. However being a Dance Teacher in mainstream education I’m afraid is even harder. There are so many hurdles and obstacles you have to get through to allow you to even teach dance in the right way. 

I am fortunate to work in a school that promotes the arts and values a broad and well-rounded education for its pupils. Being in this privileged position, and as detailed below, I thought it was important to help promote dance in secondary schools more broadly across the city for more than one reason. Firstly; funding cuts in schools are having a huge impact on arts subjects, secondly; student intake nationally has decreased for both GCSE and A Level Dance, and also school EBacc subjects are becoming more of a focus along with compulsory subjects of Maths, English and Sciences, sadly more often than not resulting in the loss of Arts subjects in schools. 

Within High Storrs, alongside a thriving extra-curricular provision, Dance as a subject is compulsory within the curriculum in Key Stage 3, and here the students have the opportunity to learn the fundamental skills in Dance, Drama and Music, laying the foundations for them to hopefully choose one or two as a GCSE option. I am sure you will agree that an education in the Performing Arts can go a long way with a lot of other career pathways being supported by the skills learnt through these subjects. I realised the impact that this broad education has on our students, however I also realised that students in other schools did not necessarily have the same access to the Performing Arts and especially to Dance. So, I wanted to create a free access programme to students across Sheffield who show an interest in Dance, but who may not be able to easily access it either in school or outside of school for various reasons – and why not start with boys. 

Creating BOYS DiME

I wanted more boys across Sheffield to have the same opportunities that the boys in High Storrs have, so I thought why not set up a free extra-curricular project for boys from across the city using our own facilities and resources. Many boys still feel in the minority within their Dance classes, needing the competition and challenge of other boys to work with and feel energised by. That’s the great thing about an all-male company – suddenly you’re no longer in the minority as the ‘token’ male dancer.

I knew that I wanted to make a boys only dance company and I knew I wanted the focus to be on promoting dance in mainstream education (DiME). 

After promoting the project on social media and raising funds for about a year, I knew I was ready to recruit other boys to start the company. With the help of the school we reached out to all Dance and PE departments across Sheffield. Now, if I’m honest, only five other schools got back in touch with me and these schools already have Dance teachers who promote the subject within their schools, however, they could see the benefits of their boys working with peers across the city with the aim of building up the profile of Dance and specifically giving new and exciting opportunities to their boys. 

After a successful audition, I picked 19 boys to join the first ever BOYS DiME. The boys rehearsed once a week on a piece called 'Just Us', which was a collaboration between the dancers and myself with the movement content being inspired by how Dance makes us feel. We were fortunate enough to be able to perform and premiere the work at the Phoenix Dance Company Yorkshire Youth Dance Platform, which was an incredible experience for the boys and the culmination of all of their hard work, commitment and passion. 

View the full article from One Dance UK here