If there’s one industry you apparently shouldn’t mess with, Good Morning America has recently experienced that it’s the dance industry. We’re accustomed to fighting hard, we deeply love and care for what we do, and don’t allow anyone to come for our own.
Most have heard the news or seen the videos, the #boysdancetoo responses, and a popular petition that garnered over 37,000 signatures. Initially, we didn’t think ballet had the country’s support on the morning of August 22, when GMA’s Lara Spencer joked on-air regarding six-year old’s Prince George’s love for attending ballet class, saying “we’ll see how long that lasts” and her colleagues responding with laughter. She may have thought it was an easy, harmless joke but the comment hit male dancers directly where it hurts, them having to recall the difficulty of studying an art form they love against an unfortunate societal norm: that boys don’t do ballet.
The quick segment immediately sparked an outcry of responses, many considering the remarks to be forms of bullying, gender stereotypes, and toxic masculinity, falling back into three of society’s traits we have been working hard to overcome. Aside from male dancers, the comment was ill-received by most who have studied ballet and experienced its many benefits to those who simply appreciate and enjoy performances. It also made America seem uncultured and like it was disrespecting another country’s young future monarch. Truly, anyone who wouldn’t want to be bullied or ridiculed for a beloved interest saw the harm in belittling any hobby or art form on a national television broadcast.
Couldn’t be filled with more love from our class this morning in Times Square. Look at all of these incredible young dancers! Photos by the one and only @murphymade Huge thank you to @charliewilliams and @samquinn for putting this together! I was fortunate enough to get to speak with @lara.spencer along with @traviswall and @fabricecalmels on camera for @goodmorningamerica yesterday. I believe we steered this painful moment into a great conversation celebrating dance and defending boys who are bullied for doing it. Lara was heartfelt, teary and incredibly remorseful. She owned up and apologized for her remarks and I forgive her and thank her for doing all she could to right her wrong. I hope in time we can all find forgiveness in our hearts once the pain we have felt disappates a bit. After all, we are all human and make mistakes. We, the dance community, are a community of love and compassion. And my hope is that we move forward together in order to lead in unity and love, especially in our current social climate where there is so much division. Dance heals. Dance unites. Dance leads. Sending you all love love love and want you to know how much you all inspire me. Now get out there and dance:)❤️ #boysdancetoo #laraspencer #goodmorningamerica #strongertogether #forgiveness
Not surprisingly, Lara Spencer has since responded with various apologies, calling her statement “insensitive and stupid”. In an effort to make amends, GMA broadcast many of these apologies, along with an interview between Spencer and three successful professional male dancers: Robbie Fairchild, Travis Wall, and Fabrice Calmels. Both sides agreed that the statement was forgivable since it has since morphed into a valuable learning experience for those who did not understand the harm behind the hurtful comment.
Another remarkable response filled NYC’s Times Square the morning of August 26. A crowd-sized ballet class was held by male ballet dancers for over 300 people, including all ages of males, directly in front of Good Morning America’s offices for the program to observe. The crowd varied from famous faces to amateur dancers, coming together to appreciate a shared love for their craft. In this exact instance and many others, male dancers are choosing to stand up to bullying and literally demonstrate in front of them, that they will continue to do what they love regardless of any outside judgement.