Boys & Girls in Ballet at Summer Camp

A week ago, I was in New York City partaking in a “girls’ getaway” weekend with friends from high school. Being with old friends brought back many sweet memories, and reinforced the importance of those lifetime friendships–just like those made at camp. Being in New York City of course invigorated me and awakened many creative and cultural inspirations, but none as much as seeing the musical, Billy Elliot.

As my friends and I debated about what Broadway show to see while we were in New York, I was invariably pulled towards Billy Elliot. I had already seen the movie and loved the story of this working class British boy who strayed from his boxing lessons into a ballet class filled with girls.  What a shock to him and to his family as he learned that dancing was his calling in life.

“It’s a feeling that you can’t control,” sings Billy in the song, Electricity.  “I suppose it’s like forgetting, losing who you are. And at the same time something makes you whole. It’s like that there’s a music playing in your ear, and I’m listening and then I disappear. And then I feel a change, and suddenly I’m flying, flying like a bird. Like electricity sparks inside of me, and I’m free!”

As Billy struggles with what’s acceptable and expected of him, his family and community are struggling with the effects of the UK miners’ strike. Billy, who is hurting from so many things including the death of his mother, discovers that dancing makes him feel alive. “I don’t want a childhood,” he says. “I want to be a dancer.”

Unfortunately, there are many preconceived notions that children must face when they choose to pursue an interest that’s not typical amongst their peers. “Just because I like ballet doesn’t mean I’m a poof, you know,” exclaims Billy as he defends his passion. It’s so important for children and teens to find a place where they feel accepted for being who they are. There are always boys in our dance classes at Maine Arts Camp, and we love watching them soar like Billy Elliot!

For me, an irresistible aspect of the show was the music composed by Elton John. He’s been one of my favorite artists for as long as I can remember, and in fact, his was the very first concert I ever attended back at The Spectrum in Philadelphia in the mid-70’s. He is quoted as saying something we strongly believe at Maine Arts Camp: “The arts can take you to places you never dreamed of.”

Interestingly, as I was preparing to write this blog, I came across a related blog entry in a group of parenting professionals on LinkedIn. Art education specialist, Cindy Wilkinson writes about being inspired by dancer Jaques D’Amboise, and his his National Dance Institute. Check out “Jumpin With Cindy” to read how she became inspired by this man and his mission to provide all children the opportunity to “experience the joy and power of the arts.”

Have you seen your child find joy in the arts? If so, please share your story in the comment section below. We welcome the opportunity to see your child’s joy blossom  at Maine Arts Camp, so please visit our site to see the diverse choices for creative expression and personal growth in our small community!

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