Male students defy stereotypes by joining dance team

By Julia Atkin

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High school has dozens of social norms that are rarely broken. From fashion trends to inaccurate stereotypes, these four years can seem tedious when patterns don’t change. Luckily, this year one has. Two boys, freshman Alden Richardson and sophomore Jason Zadovsky, joined the dance team, breaking the five-year all-girl streak.

Both Richardson and Zadovsky were successful dancers before auditioning for the team. They regularly attend classes in multiple styles at Roco Dance, but both share a love for hip-hop. Richardson was encouraged to join the dance team by senior team captain Robin Weisselberg, who has danced with him for the past two years. Unlike Richardson, who performed at the Welcome Back rally, Zadovsky missed the first set of auditions, but joined soon after.

“They were both really good,” said Weisselberg. “They both picked up the choreography quickly, learned the moves, both had a great performance. And they both have their own unique styles that fit all the criteria of everything I’m looking for.”

“For the most part, students seem to respect them,” said freshman Kiana Melendez. “I was slightly surprised to see a guy on the dance team because it seems like no guy would put themselves in a position where they could possibly be made fun of. But I actually thought it was really cool that he’s doing that and I think that he kind of broke the status quo.”

Richardson and Zadovsky bring perspective, variety, and even more talent to the choreography. Sophomore Emma Boyle pointed out that Zadovsky is open to many different styles and Richardson, “can do really cool isolations”, which is the ability to move specific body parts without including the rest of the body.

Although dance team members and other Tam students agree that these boys are talented and valuable, it has taken a while for the dance team to include guys again. The fear of a tainted reputation is a major disincentive, preventing other boys from joining.

“Guys can be kind of judgmental to other guys with the whole ‘Dude, that’s so gay,’” said Zadovsky. On the other hand, Boyle believes that “it all comes down to confidence and bravery.”

The sensitive matter of sexual orientation is a very strong deterrent to guys doing anything perceived as remotely feminine. Team member and sophomore Jasmine Caputo said that when Richardson is brought up, people ask, “Is he gay?” While Zadovsky is openly bi-sexual, Richardson is straight.

“[People] assume that because he’s a good dancer he’s gay,” said sophomore and dancer Lecya Tyaglo.

Perhaps because of his recent publicity from the rally Richardson has heard more negative opinions than Zadovsky, despite being straight. The worst response was right after the rally from five junior boys who sneered and uttered homophobic slurs before pushing Richardson. Richardson kept his cool, smiled and kept walking.

Bigotry aside, Senior Reese Butler represents the sentiments of the student body by saying that Richardson “has way more self-confidence [than other guys].”

Though Zadovsky hasn’t experienced any criticism yet, he’s not worried, saying, “They can think what they want.”

Written by Julia Atkin.  This article originally appeared in the October 2011 issue.