The ballet class in front of the Good Morning America studio on Monday morning. Caroline Shadle, Courtesy Chava Lansky

The Dance Community Has Come Together Over Lara Spencer's Comments. But Who Is Being Left Out?

Last Friday, Dance Magazine published what has already become our most-read story of all time. At 2.8 million views and counting, our take on Lara Spencer's cruel comments about Prince George taking ballet prompted an enormous response from both the dance community and those who were simply bothered by what amounted to the bullying of a 6-year-old on national television.

But Spencer's comments struck a nerve for dancers especially. Rarely have we seen our field so united, or so passionate.

Most everyone agrees that Spencer's comments were unacceptable and reflect broader ignorance about both dance and gender. But some more nuanced takes have been left out of the hundreds of new stories about the controversy.

We found some perspectives from the dance world you might not have seen yet—and broke down why they're important:


Where Is the Outrage About Other Issues in Our Field?

Ballet Hispánico artistic director Eduardo Vilaro and choreographer and teacher Michael Foley bring up questions about the source of our outrage on this topic, and why it hasn't surfaced for other issues in the dance field.

Yes, it was a rare moment that dance was featured on a mainstream platform. But it also demonstrated how much collective power we have as dancers—and how we aren't necessarily using that power to fight for equity in our field.

Both Foley and Dance Magazine editor at large Wendy Perron point out the gender dynamics at work. Considering how complicated gender is in the dance field (85 percent of boys who dance in the U.S. are bullied or harassed, for example, and yet men ride a glass escalator to positions of power) it's worth taking note of.

Why Aren't We Talking About the History of Ballet?

Former New York Times chief dance critic Alastair Macaulay makes a valid point: Lara Spencer wasn't just making fun of any boy doing ballet. She was making fun of a Prince and future King. But most conversations around Spencer's comments have ignored the fact that ballet originated in the French courts and was primarily danced by men.

We can debate how relevant this context is, especially in light of the fact that, as many have pointed out, boys who want to dance who have less privilege than Prince George are the real victims here. But the omission speaks to how ignorant many in our country are about ballet and its history.

We know that Spencer's comments—and how willing the other GMA hosts and audience members were to laugh at them—demonstrate a narrow, fragile view of masculinity.

But when we respond by arguing that ballet is actually macho, we don't help much to push back against this mentality. In fact, sometimes when we try to make the case for ballet's masculinity, we slip into trying to define who or what counts as manly (as evidenced by the popular t-shirts with slogans like "real men lift women") which only does more harm. (Not to mention the sexism inherent in implying that it would be bad for a boy to like something feminine.)

Take the now-popular hashtag #boysdancetoo. As dancer and choreographer Ashley R.T. Yergens notes, it's unclear if this rallying cry includes trans boys. (Since we're talking about bullying, we should note that 83 percent of trans kids are bullied—and that's before they even step into a dance studio.) Plus, young dancers outside the gender binary are being entirely left out of this conversation.



Have another take on Lara Spencer's comments and the dance community's response? Let us know by emailing lwingenroth@dancemedia.com.

Latest Posts


Getty Images

Topical Pain Relievers Are the Next Item on Your Dancer Self-Care Supply List

With the stressors of the pandemic still lingering more than one year later, self-care is, rightfully, a priority for everyone right now. But dancers have always known the importance of keeping their bodies and minds as healthy as possible. After all, your body is your instrument, and as we make our long-awaited returns to the studio and stage, finding self-care strategies that work for you will be crucial to getting back up to speed—mentally and physically—with your rigorous performing and training schedule.

Dancers have a myriad of options to choose from when it comes to treating minor ailments like soreness, swelling and bruising. One that's quickly gaining popularity are topical pain relievers, which provide targeted, temporary relief of minor pain. These days, there's more than just your tried-and-true Tiger Balm on the shelves. From CBD lotions to warming gels and patches, finding the product that's right for you can be as difficult as finding the perfect Rockette-red shade of lipstick…but even more beneficial to your dance career.

Read on for our breakdown of some of the most common ingredients to look out for in the topical pain relief aisle.

GO DEEPER SHOW LESS
May 2021