Beauregard Boehme during a ballet class at the Victoria Academy of Ballet.

Ballet academy encouraging dance education for boys

When Beauregard Boehme was eight years old, his friends and older siblings would have spontaneous dance parties in their Victoria home.

When Beauregard Boehme was eight years old, his  friends and older siblings would have spontaneous dance parties in their Victoria home.

His family would dance to all types of music from funk to soul.

“We kind of had music happening all the time,” said his mother Kanne. “He was dancing on his own all the time. It was an environment that they grew up in.”

Four years ago, Beauregard and Kanne were walking by the Victoria Academy of Ballet on Johnson Street when someone “magically” opened the door. The first class they encountered was taught by a male teacher and the first student they saw was another boy.

“It’s just like it was meant to be,” Kanne said.

Beauregard has been hooked ever since. The now 11-year-old attends ballet class, with 11 girls and one other boy, at the academy three times a week, doing everything from leg warmups to bar exercises.

Beauregard is also involved in team sports such as rugby and baseball (he’s out playing various sports almost everyday of the week) and said ballet has helped improve his overall athleticism.

“I like it because it’s very physical and I like doing dance. I just like everything about it,” said the Selkirk Montessori student.

“(Ballet) is good because it makes your legs way stronger and you just have more speed with running in rugby. I’m way stronger in my arms and that helps with throwing in baseball.”

Kanne said ballet has helped her son become more attune to his own body, adding he has better hand-eye coordination and has more appreciation for movement and strength.

Beauregard is part of a growing group of boys taking up ballet in Victoria.

Now, the academy is encouraging more boys to take up dance through a new bursary for boys aged seven to 11 to allow them to take part in a boys class beginning in September.

The Boys Can Dance program will be taught by the academy’s principal and assistant director Andrew Pronger, and will be a mix of ballet, contemporary and jazz.

Pronger said they’re trying to break the stereotype that only girls are successful at dance, noting this year they currently have the highest number of male students totalling 13 boys between the ages of four and 21.

“It’s a stereotype that doesn’t hold anymore. It’s very much a mixed activity,” said Pronger, adding the overall profile of dance has increased over the years due to TV shows.

“A big thing they learn is self-discipline and that carries through to a lot of things in their lives as well as the musicality, the coordination and the joy of moving.”

For more information about the Boys Can Dance program email admin@victoriaacademyofballet.ca.