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Local male ballet dancers push back on gender stereotypes

Jonathan Roberts • Aug 29, 2019 at 12:00 AM

Mason and Jackson Gorman hear the talking and see the sideways glances, but the two ballet dancers don’t let it bother them.

And though Mason only started doing ballet recently, his older brother Jackson, 12, already has about a decade of experience under his belt.

“It doesn’t really matter (what other people think),” Jackson Gorman said, adding that he wouldn’t tell somebody who’s not his friend he does ballet, so he’s not worried about getting picked on.

“I really don’t care what other people think,” Mason Gorman, 10, said. “I enjoy doing it, so I do it.”

Still, they do see and hear the things people do and say, especially when they’re made on national television.

During a segment of “Good Morning America” last week, co-host Lara Spencer caused a furor over comments made about Prince George’s interest in ballet that many saw as insensitive. On Monday, Spencer apologized as hundreds of male and female dancers took to Times Square for a flash dance mob.

“I screwed up,” Spencer said during her on-air apology. “The comment I made about dance was stupid and insensitive and I am deeply sorry.”

Jackson and Mason Gorman’s mother, Anne Gorman, told the Press the comments “broke my heart,” but that she felt the apology was sincere.

“It kind of stinks (to hear things like that),” Jackson Gorman said. “There’s no reason for them to do it — it’s not their problem.”

“Boys can do the same thing girls can, so why would people say that?” Mason Gorman said.

“Times are changing,” said Cindy Bernshausen, the boys’ ballet teacher. “You see a whole lot more dance than you used, and whether it’s ballet, hip-hop or gymnastics, there’s so much out there.

“How long can you hold onto this concept that only (girls) can perform?” the East Tennessee Ballet Academy owner asked rhetorically.

Fortunately, it’s not as though either boy lacks support. Both Bernshausen and Anne Gorman said the ballerinas at the academy have “embraced” Mason, Jackson and another boy enrolled at the school.

“Boys who do ballet are just like girls who do ballet, and there’s nothing wrong with that,” Jackson Gorman said.

“If they want to, they can do it,” his brother added.

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