Boys shake it off for Ready, Set, Dance on Nickelodeon Jr

Boys step up: Preschoolers rehearse for Ready, Set, Dance, a program for Nickelodeon Jr. Picture: Chris Lane
Boys step up: Preschoolers rehearse for Ready, Set, Dance, a program for Nickelodeon Jr. Picture: Chris Lane

Step to the side girlies, the boys are having a crack.

Preschoolers are shaking it up on the dance floor for the TV screen, and they've got the moves to match.

Students are getting in the groove for the second series of Ready, Set, Dance, for the channel, Nickelodeon Jr.

With all the noise surrounding the #BoysDanceToo movement, Sutherland Shire kids are backing the trend.

Since the show launched in January, there has been a 15 per cent increase nationally of boys taking up dance.

In the past, when boys turned up to a dance class filled with pink tutus, they were most likely only males there. But how times have changed.

At Menai, which has 16 boys in the preschool program and more than 80 enrolled in the school-aged classes, the trend away from 'girls only' has well and truly shifted.

The dance program teaches preschoolers coordination, creativity and confidence through lively movement. It aims to develop physical sensory, language, cognitive, social and emotional skills.

Ready, Set, Dance has its roots in the shire. It was originally created by dance studio owners and is now held in 190 dance studios across the nation.

The shire's Natalie Ettingshausen, owner of Ettingshausens, is one of the program directors. The preschool dance educator and dance studio owner joined forces with Planetdance Menai and All Starz Performing Arts Peakhurst in 2014 to create the innovative class-based dance program specifically for preschoolers. The group identified a gap in the market when their own kids hit their preschool years.

Nick Jr has made a conscious effort to ensure the show appeals to boys. One of the animated characters of the show is a snow leopard named Freeze, who loves hip hop and freestyle.

Boys mean business: The preschool program aims to build confidence through funky moves. Picture: Chris Lane

Boys mean business: The preschool program aims to build confidence through funky moves. Picture: Chris Lane

Ready, Set, Dance, director, Jade Barnes, says the chance to star on the television has boosted the number of participants.

"The Billy Elliot Story we are all familiar with still exists but there has definitely been a change in the support for boys in dance," she said.

"Dads who were once reluctant to allow their sons to join a dance class are becoming more accepting."

"We are very passionate about seeing as many boys give it a go as possible. It was important to us to provide an alternative to the traditional daddy-daughter ballerina themed dance so we created our own superhero duo routine. It was the hit of dance concerts all over Australia.

"Some of our studios in regional towns have been operating for more than 20 years and have never had a boy enrol in their dance studio. Many of these locations are ecstatic to report that boys are now regularly attending classes after watching the show.

"We are thrilled that our TV show has driven so many more boys to classes. They are proud to help pave the way for more young boys to point their best toe forward."

Ready, Set, Dance includes Ewan Herdman and Ethan Puse, who hail from a strong musical theatre background. Both starred in the professional production of 'Matilda The Musical' and attend dance studios in the shire.

"When I was in primary school, I was the first boy who joined the dance group," Ewan said. "It's really cool to see that so many boys are now enjoying dance as much as I do."

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