More than 50 people from the United States and the United Kingdom came to West Virginia University June 29 – July 1 for the first national symposium focusing on dance as a lifelong vocation for men and boys.
Men in Dance: Bridging the Gap, hosted by the WVU dance program and the National Dance Educators Association, discussed male presence throughout the history of dance and worked to address how to attract more boys and men to the field.
“From early childhood dance and movement classes through secondary education and beyond, the dance world has been faced with the question of how to attract more boys and men to the dance field,” said Yoav Kaddar, director of dance. “This problem is not local to one genre of dance, age group or country. This dilemma is global and one that dance communities everywhere constantly look for ways to solve.”
The symposium hosted sessions on exploring new masculinities in dance, engaging young boys in dance and challenging expectations for male dancers.
“For a lot of the attendees this was their first conference-like experience,” Kaddar said. “Folks were impressed with our campus and facilities and were really inspired by the content that was presented and discusses during the symposium."
According to Kaddar, hosting the symposium was an important step in placing the dance program on the map.
“Hosting this symposium is a natural progression in claiming WVU Dance Program as a national leader in the field,” Kaddar said. “Hosting a national event on such a vital topic has attracted scholars and experts in the field from around the country to Morgantown.”
Symposium attendees wrapped up the weekend by developing action plans to help solve the issues they’re facing in their niche of the industry.
“We discussed pragmatic solutions in addressing the continuous drought of male dancers in our studios, schools and companies, and the lack of male educators,” Kaddar said. “We all have the ability to make small steps toward addressing this large-scale issue.”
Susan McGreevy-Nichols, NDEO executive director and CEO, said, “the National Dance Education Organization Men in Dance special topic conference hosted by West Virginia University was a tremendous success. The WVU campus was perfectly situated for our event providing spacious aesthetically pleasing meeting spaces with cutting edge AV equipment all in one convenient location. From the warm welcomes from President Gordon Gee and Department Chair Joshua Blackmer Williamson to the coordination and leadership supplied by WVU professor Dr. Yoav Kaddar, you have a recipe for success! These aspects are what we aspire to in a partnership.”