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"Boys are welcome in ballet": Philadelphia Dance Academy lets boys learn dance style for free

Philadelphia Dance Academy wants more boys to be represented in ballet
Philadelphia Dance Academy wants more boys to be represented in ballet 02:13

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Boys can learn ballet for free at the Philadelphia Dance Academy. We spoke with a couple of dancers who reminded us why inclusivity is important.  

"I've been dancing for six years, this upcoming year will be my seventh," 12-year-old Ishan Stanley said.

Stanley spends hours inside the Philadelphia Dance Academy, making sure his feet are in the perfect position.  

"I like the feeling of just being onstage performing, I just like the feeling," Stanley said.

"There is definitely a need for boys in ballet," Lori Lahnemann, owner of Philadelphia Dance Academy, said. 

Lahnemann opened her studio in 2005 with the goal of training young dancers. Throughout the years, the girls outnumbered the boys. 

"Oftentimes parents think, 'Oh, I have a little girl, I'll put her in ballet. I have a boy, I'll put him in karate.' Not...because they are gender stereotyping, it's just sort of cultural," Lahnemann said. 

Lahnemann wanted to change that viewpoint.

"We started the boys program scholarship actually the first year we opened, 19 years ago," Lahnemann said. "The purpose of it is to send the message that boys are welcome in ballet."

Of the 700 students who are enrolled in the academy right now, only 40 are boys. 

"There are these storytelling [ballets] and you have these gendered roles. ... We just want to be a more inclusive diverse group of dancers," Lahnemann said.

Oliver is another male ballet dancer in the academy.

"One hour and 30 minutes out of your day for a very fun performance is definitely worth it," Oliver said.

Ishan says it's not always easy being the only male dancer.

"I've gotten more used to it as the classes have progressed, I've gotten older," he said.

He is showing others the beauty and the art which he loves.

Ahead of the holiday season, the Philadelphia Dance Academy will soon be holding auditions for its annual production of The Nutcracker. 

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