Stigmas gone

Scott Osbourne, an eighth-grader at Sudbrook and an Owings Mills resident, has been studying ballet for three years and hopes to someday join the New York City Ballet. But he also runs track, epitomizing the athletic crossover between dance and sports that Fox often sees.

"I started dance lessons as a kid to help with baseball," recalled Fox, who grew up in the small town of Jenks, Okla., "where, believe me, kids weren't taking ballet."

"Dance taught me so much, like how to be disciplined and how to be in a room and not be talking," he said, recalling his own rambunctious class-clown approach to school. "Discipline helps kids learn to learn."


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Monica Osbourne said her son has thrived under the program.

"When people think of ballet they automatically think of girls, but there are young boys who love ballet and who are just as good as the girls," she said. "I am thankful for this program for giving my son the opportunity to do what he loves."

Tamisha Bell, whose son is Sudbrook eighth-grader Damontae Hack, agrees.

"Since starting dance, Damontae has become more efficient with his movements and his confidence has grown," she said, adding that he will be auditioning for the dance magnet at Carver Center for Arts and Technology in January. A cello player who also enjoys acting, he's set a goal of joining the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in New York.

While stereotypes about boys as dancers have been changing for a long time, Fox said, television programs like "Dancing with the Stars" continue to reinforce newer, open-minded attitudes.

"Ballet, in particular, can be misunderstood," he said. "But people who are very good at what they do — whether they're in sports, entertainment or whatever — are very coordinated."

Brian Friedlander, president of the Greater Pikesville Recreation Council, said the old stigmas are gone.

"When I came up in the 1970s, boys may have concealed an interest in dancing," he said. "Now, the walls have been knocked down. When you see a phenomenal running back like Emmitt Smith of the Dallas Cowboys dancing on TV, you know people wear this (talent) as a badge of honor."

While Friedlander said he's proud that the recreation council offers such diverse and affordable programs as boys' ballet, he gives all the credit to Dolid, whom he says is "highly regarded in dance circles."

"It's an honor to be in this program and I work to get that across," Fox said, adding he expects next year's auditions to be even tougher. "Ballet is incredibly hard; good dancers just make it look really, really easy."

The Baltimore County Youth Ballet will present its 20th annual production of "The Nutcracker Suite" on Sat., Dec. 17 at 7:30 p.m. and Sun., Dec. 18 at 3 p.m. at the Peggy and Yale Gordon Center for the Performing Arts, 3506 Gwynnbrook Ave. in Owings Mills.

Students from the Ballet for Boys Only classes will participate in the show, which has a cast of young professionals and is geared toward children. Laura Dolid is staging and directing the production, which will also offer special matinees and pricing for school groups on Friday, Dec. 16.

All tickets are reserved seating and cost $15. For more information, go to baltimorecountyyouthballet.com.