When I was in school, my college’s slogan was “Unusual Combinations.” It spoke to the variety of major/minor choices that students made throughout their time at the school – a biology major with a theater minor, an English major with a minor in math. Not bad combinations, just ones that weren’t expected.
There are a lot of unusual combinations out there that, on paper, don’t make sense, but in reality, are good ideas. Peanut butter on a hot dog. A peanut butter and pickle sandwich. Strawberries and balsamic vinegar. Wearing black and navy together.
Another unusual combination? Baseball and ballet.
On Monday, May 9, these two unlikely mates will join together at Canal Park when the Cleveland-based organization Ballet in the City hosts “Guys Dance Too Night” at the Akron RubberDucks game.
No, this does not mean that you will be seeing Clint Frazier or Bradley Zimmer in a tutu, and no, D.J. Brown will not take to the mound in pointe shoes. “Guys Dance Too Night” is about breaking down those stereotypes that surround male dancers and celebrating this innovative programming that Ballet in the City has established to broaden the knowledge and enthusiasm of men in the ballet world.
(Full disclosure: I’m on the auxiliary board of Ballet in the City and have been dancing ballet myself for nearly 20 years. I have a deep, personal support for this program, and am thrilled that two organizations and sports I care so much about are partnering for an evening. Yes, ballet is a sport.)
Now, before you write this off as just another promotion, take a minute to read more about what “Guys Dance Too” is all about. It’s not just about ballet and dancing; it’s about acceptance and opportunities.
Baseball – and much of the sports world in general – is male-dominated. From on the field to in the press box to even front offices and staff, there isn’t much gender diversity happening. Even when a female does manage to break into the boy’s club, she doesn’t get there without dealing with a few misogynistic comments along the way.
The same can be said for men in the dance world. When Ballet in the City founder Jessica Wallis first started Ballet in the City, she realized that so much of what was being produced was female-oriented. There were no boys in the first few master classes that were held by Ballet in the City. Wallis knew that needed to change.
“Guys Dance Too” was a grassroots effort started to welcome male dancers into the programming of Ballet in the City. Current Guys Dance Too Program Director Erik “Cheeto” Zito brought up the idea of hosting all-male master classes, which has blossomed into a very consistent pattern of classes for male dancers taught by male dancers from across the nation. The organization has also developed a “Guys Dance Too” product line that includes t-shirts and wristbands to help show support for the program.
By opening the door for male dancers in this way, Ballet in the City and “Guys Dance Too” is helping to create a welcoming atmosphere and learning experience for male dancers. The program is funded entirely by donations and foundational funding, and attending Monday night’s “Guys Dance Too Night” at the Akron RubberDucks game is one way to demonstrate support for the innovative program. For more information, visit http://www.balletinthecity.org/guys-dance-too.html, and email firstname.lastname@example.org for tickets and additional details.
Photo: Jessica Wallis/Ballet in the City Twitter account