Dancing around the 'problem' of boys and dance

Gard, Michael (2001) Dancing around the 'problem' of boys and dance. Discourse, 22 2: 213-225. doi:10.1080/01596300120072383

Author Gard, Michael
Title Dancing around the 'problem' of boys and dance
Journal name Discourse   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0159-6306
Publication date 2001-04-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1080/01596300120072383
Open Access Status
Volume 22
Issue 2
Start page 213
End page 225
Total pages 13
Place of publication Abingdon, Oxon, United Kingdom
Publisher Routledge
Language eng
Formatted abstract
In this paper I Žfirstly propose a reading of this story which draws attention to the narrative’s investment and deployment of sexist and homophobic discourses in order to present its male subject as ‘normal’. The purpose here is not to criticise the authors of the story, but to highlight some of the problematic features of boy-friendly approaches to curriculum design generally, and the boys and dance ‘problem’ in particular. I argue that it is the meanings associated with certain forms of physical movement which should be the focus of pedagogical attention, and not simply the ambivalence of some boys to some forms of dance.

In the next section I discuss the pitfalls inherent in the construction of boys’ non-involvement in certain forms of dance as a ‘problem’. I place ‘problem’ in quotes here because I am concerned that it is the low number of boys who willingly dance (in certain ways) that is often understood as problematic by physical and dance educators. Far from being simply a ‘problem’ with or for boys, I argue that the rejection of dance by schoolboys points to a rejection of movement practices that are seen as feminine or signifying homosexuality, a point that has signiŽficance for all students. What is at stake here is not so much the relatively small amount of space available for dance in schools compared with other movement forms such as competitive sports, although this is a signiŽficant issue. Rather, I am concerned with the meanings associated with certain kinds of bodily movement and the sexist and homophobic regimes of bodily practice that these meanings underscore and that operate within schools (Clarke, 1998; Flintoff, 1991; 1994; Wright, 1996).

I conclude by linking the issues raised in the Žfirst two sections of the paper to the relatively recent intensiŽfication of interest in the emotional well-being and academic performance of boys in schools. That is, I argue that the process of deŽfining male rejection of dance as a ‘problem’ for boys is indicative of a wider tendency to see the protection and cultivation of hegemonic masculine norms of behaviour as paramount. This tendency ignores the possibility that it is the rejection of dance and certain kinds of bodily movement by certain kinds of male students that is at stake. But rather than being a problem for these boys, this is more likely to be keenly felt as a ‘problem’ for those students who already participate in dance or who would like to do so. This is likely to be mostly, although not always, female and non-sports-minded male students; students who are already at risk of being marginalised within the movement cultures of schools.
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collection: School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences Publications
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Created: Wed, 18 Feb 2015, 21:17:45 EST by Michael Gard on behalf of School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences