"Breaking the Barrier: For Boyz Only" is a multilevel educational and performance project providing an opportunity for middle-school aged boys to gain exposure to the art of dance. The project targets at-risk young men from the urban core facing barriers to art experiences due to financial considerations, misconceptions about dance, unfamiliarity with cultural activities, or lack of exposure to the arts.
Launched three years ago, the program has expanded from the initial one school serving 12 young men to five schools serving 60. Participating students are introduced to various dance styles including hip hop, jazz, and ballet. For most, this is a first time exposure to dance, which provides a compelling access point for further study of the arts.
An annual culminating performance features all participants presenting choreography learned throughout the project along with male dancers from The Florida Ballet. The performance piece is incredibly effective in terms of social development not only for the boys but for the community as well. For the students, it provides a respect for teamwork, and a sense of what can be achieved with hard work and dedication. For the community, it is an opportunity to promote new, as well as future, audiences for dance.