If you want to inspire your son to dance, take him to see other men dance. In particular, take him to see really great men dancing like real men.
We drove two and a half hours on Friday night to see Rasta Thomas’ Bad Boys of Dance perform in Santa Rosa, CA. We ‘ve been waiting for this chance for a long time, and it was well worth five hours in the car for the performance itself, the chance to meet him (yes, we did) and for the inspiration it provided for Julian. Seeing Rasta, one of the most fabulous male dancers I’ve seen–not just for his ballet technique but all around, dance on that stage, and the other young men perform made Julian want to go home and work all the harder at his dancing. It also made him want to overcome his biggest weakness: lack of flexibility. He’s been doing extra stretching ever since!
This show really is phenomenal. If you live in New York, you can catch the “boys” at the Joyce Theater, a great venue, for three weeks in December. It’s filled with great dancing, humor and lots of testosterone. If you want to see guys doing guys stuff on the dance floor, this show is the one to see. (Actually, Julian said, “They’re doing all the stuff I never get to do.” Sad, but true.)
A little estrogen is throw in as well, as Rasta’s wife, Adrienne Canterna-Thomas dances with the boys and actually choreographed all but one number…a very funny piece where the boys partner with blow-up dolls. (Makes lifts very easy!) It’s amazing how she choreographs for the men and makes them dance like men. We spoke about it, and she said she also has them dress like men–mostly in jeans with no shirts! (Their last encore was the song “I’m Too Sexy for My Shirt…”)
On a serious note, it really is important to show our dancing boys great male dancers in an up-close and personal setting. Julian not only got to watch these great dancers (from the second row), he got to meet them. In fact, we met two of the boys in New York this summer at the NYCDA nationals. They are only a few years older than he is… He shook hands with Rasta, got to talk with Kameron Bink, who was a SYTYCD top-10 finalist and also spoke with Rasta’s wife. It’s so important for boys to feel they are surrounded by other male dancers who are actually successful as professional dancers–who can be role models for them. That’s what Rasta is for Julian–a great and inspirational role mode. The other “boys” are, too, but he really aspires to dance like Rasta (and to one day be one of the “boys”).
By the way, these male dancers all had great technique–not surprisingly. Of course, Rasta studied at the Kirov Academy and made dance competition history with honors including the Special Jury Prize for the 1994 Paris International Dance Competition, the Gold Medal in the Junior Men’s Division from the 1996 Varna International Ballet Competition, and the Gold Medal in the Senior Men’s Division from the Jackson, MS USA-IBC. He has danced with the Le Jeune Ballet de France, the Hartford Ballet, and the Dance Theatre of Harlem, as well as being the first American to become a member of the Kirov Ballet in Russia. That said, I enjoyed watching all of their feet and ballet moves, which were beautifully done.
It’s worth mentioning that Adrienne shows off almost flawless (at least to my untrained eye) technique as well. She’s an utterly gorgeous dancer. While at first I found having a woman on stage a bit distracting, as my husband said, “Sometimes you need that estrogen to get the testosterone going.” She did add to the “story, and I’m sure she inspired many of the girls in the audience, and she was lovely to watch. Plus, the fact that she and her husband have made a life for themselves together on the road performing is inspiring as well. I know they have a child — a daughter, I think, and it’s nice for the (straight) boys to see that a dancing husband and wife can create a life and make a living performing together.
For a peak at the show, take a look at these videos:
A four-minute trailer (not to the correct music–The first half of the show is danced to Black Eyed Peas, Maria Callas, Lenny Kravitz, Dave Mathews Band, Journey, Coldplay Jacques Brel, and U2; the second half of the show is set exclusively to music by Queen, Prince and Michael Jackson.)
Imagine this one with the correct music by Queen, Prince and Michael Jackson…