Boys will be Boys - Photographic Series
Posted: Oct 29 2021
We were recently very fortunate to chat with Jayne Jackson, who has just launched an exhibition of her photographic series ‘Boys will be Boys’. This project challenges stereotypes associated with being male in modern society and negatives associated with toxic masculinity. In this photography project Jayne showcases boys from First Position School of Dance in Bournemouth. This dance school was the 2021 recipient of the highly regarded RAD Project B Award for Innovation in Male Dance.
In fact, many may not know that Miss Natalie, the owner of First Position School of Dance, created National Boys Dance Day 23rd October, of which Jayne is a patron.
All photographs in this blog post are from Jayne Jackson’s exhibition ‘Boys will be Boys’
Jayne told us the lovely story of how Miss Natalie started her boys’ classes;
Will (who has the red tennis racket below) decided he wanted to dance when he was very young, but he freaked out because he was in a class full of girls. As he was so desperate to dance, Miss Natalie decided to break down that final barrier for him and create a class where he would feel comfortable; a boys-only class. The class grew and grew and there are now over 50 boys dancing at the school.
The boys in Jayne’s photographs are all from Miss Natalie’s boys’ classes and they are extremely proud of their community.
“The boys talk about joy and freedom and the fact that dance is something in their lives where they feel completely free.”
Jayne herself has been a dance photographer for a long time, and this project is part of her MA in photography at Arts University Bournemouth. She does not have a background in dance herself, but she does have two daughters who dance. Jayne noticed that in other dance schools routines often appeared to be choreographed for the girls and the boys are ‘plonked’ in, and this got her thinking about how ballet can be made more accessible and nurturing for boys. This is a stark reminder that ballet teachers have a responsibility to cater for any male students that we may be lucky enough to have!
In addition, Jayne believes that
“A child’s gender does not determine your entire life – there are not set things for boys and girls”
And she raises her daughters in this way, by offering them opportunities that any boy OR girl should have, such as attending karate classes as well as ballet.
When discussing the boys in Jayne’s photographs, she says
“just because they do ballet doesn’t make them a different category of boy”
And we agree with Jayne totally on this. The juxtaposition of ‘ballet boys’ in ‘ordinary’ environments such as the skate park is very thought-provoking and shows that people’s preconceptions of ballet boys as being ‘different’ are completely inaccurate. As well as ballet some have other interests and Jayne says that she loves the fact that they’re mates, and they skateboard together as well as their ‘dance stuff and shows’.
With this exhibition, Jayne wanted to “show how cool they are”, and we think she has achieved this magnificently. We are keen to express though, that a boy doesn’t need to have other interests to be cool – ballet is more than enough! It is Jayne’s hope that boys that don’t dance can “see themselves reflected in the images” and maybe it will even encourage boys who don’t yet dance to take it up.
In addition, it is Jayne’s opinion that theatrical work gives children confidence and a sense of self, and we agree with her wholeheartedly on this. Children who dance become “strong individuals with a strong sense of self-identity and self-confidence”. Jayne reminds us to think of the modern pressures on teenagers, and how much joy and freedom a child of ANY gender can gain from dancing.
Luckily for us all, the photography project is going to be extended! Looking to the future, Jayne comments that “the world desperately needs more great future men… men who are emotionally intelligent, who are accepting”. And what’s more “parents need to change their stigma” so that children can grow up without toxic masculinity, and with more self-confidence.
You can visit Jayne’s website and learn more about this project as well as others, here: https://www.jaynejacksonphotography.co.uk/boys-will-be-boys (Please note that by clicking on this link you will navigate away from our website.)
Our thanks to Jayne for sharing her work. If you’d like to see more then look out for her future exhibitions! To keep in touch, you can follow Jayne on Instagram @jaynejacksonphotography