Boys Ballet program aims to ‘break stigma’

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Attila Mosolygo said the long-term goal of the program is to find young talent in the region. Courtesy Grand Rapids Ballet

(As seen on WZZM-13 TV) A YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids program, entering its second year, helps preschool boys develop their flexibility and coordination skills.

The Mary Free Bed YMCA, along with the Grand Rapids Ballet School, offers a Boys Ballet program for preschoolers ages 3-5 that teaches boys the basics of ballet, which includes plié, pirouette and relevé.

“We want to break that stigma, that stereotype of young boys only gearing toward sports rather than trying their hands in arts and humanities to start out with,” said Gia Budrick, lead dance specialist at Mary Free Bed YMCA.

The program’s 2018-19 season was its first year. Budrick said there are less than a handful of preschool boys who are enrolled in the class, but they are expecting the program to grow.

The classes are 45 minutes once per week and are taught by ballet experts, including Miranda Haywood-Curry, owner and executive director of Flat River Dance Company in Greenville; Attila Mosolygo, Grand Rapids Ballet School and Junior Company director; and Budrick.

Budrick started ballet when she was 12. She was a student in the Grand Rapids Ballet Junior Company and climbed the ranks to the Senior Company.

“The goal of the program is to be able to introduce young boys to movement and the art form of dance,” Mosolygo said. “The boys enrolled will work to develop more strength, overall flexibility and basic coordination. They will learn musicality and work to understand rhythm and to be able to count the musical phrases they are dancing to.

“The boys will have the ability to use dance as a form of self-expression. The long-term goal is for the two organizations, with combined efforts, to find young talent in our community. Gia and I would love to find young boys who try this class and then discover the joy of ballet and want to enroll at Grand Rapids Ballet School to further their dance education.”

Budrick said the few preschoolers who participated in the first season of the program also performed in recitals.

Prior to starting the Boys Ballet program, Budrick was one of the original employees at Mary Free Bed YMCA, which opened in 2015. She said, overall, the YMCA already had an established dance program, so when she started the dance program at Mary Free Bed YMCA, she added contemporary dancing, hip-hop dancing and ballroom dancing to the program. That dance program is open to everyone, including boys who are 17 and younger.

“The boys program is the initial introduction of the student to dance and then if they are interested, they will enroll at Grand Rapids Ballet School,” Mosolygo said. “After much time and training, they would be able to audition for the Junior Company when they are 10. The Grand Rapids Ballet School Junior Company is a performance group of students, ages 10-19, who audition every year. These students are enrolled full time at GRBS and yearn for more performance opportunities, as they are extremely dedicated to their craft.”

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