From Boys to Men in the World of Dance
Sarah Beth Byrum for EDN
Walking in to a dance studio, the last thing you may expect is a football gear bag tossed in the corner next to the tutus. But at All That! Dance Company, this is just another weekday at the studio. All That! Dance Company is a local dance studio that offers a unique opportunity to boys – a chance to be masculine, strong, athletic…and a dancer.
I.C.U. Crew – an all male hip hop crew – was created to allow guys to be guys in the world of dance. The named was coined by the dancers themselves and stands for “In Constant Unity” – something this group takes to heart. This group of teenage guys takes classes from male instructors and learns a masculine style of dance.
“When we have a male teacher, we can do a lot more. The choreography is harder so we can stretch our skills more. Having a guy who knows what we are going through as male dancers really helps us to connect and become better on stage and off,” explains dancer Logan McGann.
Together on stage and off is a lesson these young men have learned in spades. The group has grown in ways that no one expected. For the past five years, they have traveled, competed, performed, and supported each other. They have won regional and national competitions that were thought to be outside of their reach.
“I never really expected a group like us to do that well,” said dancer Coleman Byrum.
They have danced in New York City the day after Michael Jackson died and were featured on ABC World News. They were guest performers in Disneyland, and danced in Las Vegas next to SYTYCD contestants and choreographers. All of this happens in between football practices, school work, track work outs, and lifting. They are athletes – and dancers.
The team learned the true meaning of In Constant Unity when dancer Jourdan Ross lost his mom this past year. He was on the way out to door to the first dance performance of the season when he found his mom unresponsive. Team mate Aidan Ziegler-Hansen was the first by his side. Team members surrounded him with love and support. He even performed a dance to “Tears in Heaven” as a tribute to his mom during the dance season.
“Dance is what allowed me to heal and to keep that connection with my mom,” Jourdan said. “The dance studio is a second home to me and I know the other guys in the group have my back.”
The boys all agree that the real connection of the group is dancing with other guys. The program has expanded to include both elementary school and middle school aged groups as well and the older teen boys are now mentoring these young dancers. Aidan Ziegler-Hansen often assists in teaching the younger groups and passing down what he has learned.
“It’s great to work with the younger group because they have the opportunity to learn a style of dance from other guys and I wish I would have had that at their age. They are getting to connect to dance and put their own style on it and it’s cool that I get to be a part of that.”
“It’s pretty cool having an all guys team at our studio because it’s something that no one else has,” says veteran dancer Katie Brainard. “The funniest part is going to competition and seeing all the girls going crazy over them. To us, it’s just not that big of a deal. They are dancers just like us, and they are just part of our dance family.”