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Over the last few days, we have developed our surveys and interviews, revised them and put them to work.  For the most part, we found it easiest it to interview the dancers because we are most familiar with them than anyone else in our sample.  Therefore, we decided to start our research interviewing male and female dancers. Here are some of our results (interviews-directly transcribed):

MALE RESPONDENT

Age: 21

How long have you been involved with the dance community? 3 years

As a male performer, how do you feel you are perceived by society? Well, I get good feedbacks from society especially for bhangra so I feel like I get a positive vibe from society

As a male performer, how do you perceive yourself? I believe that Ican dance bhangra really well, very bad with hip hop… Maybe good at contemporary since bipasha (another dancer) says am very graceful (he laughs)

Do you think there is a difference in the “ideal” body type for male and female dancers? Well, I believe that the ideal body type for both male and female dancers are very similar… that is sleek and slender and definitely flexible

FEMALE RESPONDENT

Age: 20

How long have you been involved with the dance community? 15 years

Have male performers been a big contributor to performances? If so, how do you feel about that? Male performers have definitely been a big contribution to dance. My own dance teacher for 8 years was a male. In my opinion it doesnt matter if the dancer is male or female as long as he/she respects dance.

From your experience, how are male dancers portrayed in society? Male dancers are not appreciated as much as female dancers are. Its an old fashioned stereotype that only females should dance. In my opinion that is wrong and many times it discourages many good male dancers. Like I said before, unless you know and respect dance, you do not know how to value it and its followers (dancers).

Do you think there is a difference in the “ideal” body type for male and female dancers? I dont think there is an ‘ideal’ body type for a dancer, whether you are male or female. A dancer is a dancer despite their body type. Once again it must be a stereotype that dancers are slim, slender, flexible..average height. But there are many dancers who may be over average weight, not as flexible but rather very stiff, and either short or tall! There are thousands of diff dance types, and each type requires a diff body type/style. So i dont think there is any ideal body type to begin with, anyone can become a dancer if they believe they can.

FEMALE RESPONDENT

Age: 20 yrs old

How long have you been involved with the dance community? 14 yrs

Have male performers been a big contributor to performances? If so, how do you feel about that? Yes, for as long as I’ve been an active member of Natraj Center for the Performing Arts, there has always been male dancers. In fact, my brother joined dance class when I joined, and since then, we’ve been performing together (and also teaching). The mere fact that boys in our community have the courage to keep our culture alive by learning Indian dance makes me very proud.

From your experience, how are male dancers portrayed in society? From my experience, male dancers are portrayed as unique, in a positive way. Especially in the Indian community, male dancers are much more scarce than females, so whenever I do come across a good male dancer, he is usually portrayed as very talented and one of a kind.

Do you think there is a difference in the “ideal” body type for male and female dancers? I don’t think there is such a thing as a dancer having an ideal body type. For me, dancing is an art and passion that comes from the inside and one’s body is just a medium for communicating that passion. I’ve seen many amazing dancers of different body types, both male and female. Thus, body type doesn’t make a difference in my opinion.

MALE RESPONDENT

Age: 17

How long have you been involved with the dance community? for about 1 year and a half

As a male performer, how do you feel you are perceived by society? I feel that I am perceived as an entertainer and someone who embraces their culture and has a passion to dance.

As a male performer, how do you perceive yourself? As a male performer I perceive myself as a young determined dancer who wants to display my skill for the community and also someone who takes part in their culture not only being religion wise but through other means for example music and dancing. Also I saw other male dancers as men who did what they liked to do and they were idols to me because they showed that men can dance too professional and not only in a specific form, for example, Ballet. Also, I saw that they were well respected and well known.

Do you think there is a difference in the “ideal” body type for male and female dancers? No, I disagree that there is an “ideal” body type for male and female dancers because in our dance school Natraj, amongst the males alone there are 3 of us and all of us are different and all of us still practice as normal and put on the best show possible, as for females its not about image but about putting their heart and soul into the dance and also putting on the best show possible.

FEMALE RESPONDENT

Age: 21

How long have you been involved with the dance community? I have been dancing formally since I was 5 years old.

Have male performers been a big contributor to performances? If so, how do you feel about that? Yes, male performers help us bring versatility to our dances and entertain the audience very much. I think male performers are highly needed in our dance community and more males should be encouraged to dance.

From your experience, how are male dancers portrayed in society? Male dancers are unfortunately not portrayed in high regard when they perform classical or bollywood. They are made fun of or called names… such as being gay, because only gay people could be on stage. But, when males incorporate hip hop into Indian it much appreciated. As of recent times, male dancers are becoming more accepted in our generation.

Do you think there is a difference in the “ideal” body type for male and female dancers? Yes, I believe there is an ideal body of being slim and slender to be a dancer. That way your movements will be more clear and precise but this is actual never an ideal body type because it is up to the dancer to portray the dance to the best of their abilities and sometimes even having the best body, they are unable to do so without the right skill and talent.

That’s all we have gotten thus far.  We will continue with the distribution of surveys and interviews immediately!

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April 30th, 2010 at 8:14 pm and tagged