KC native’s upcoming documentary challenges stigma that boys can’t be dancers

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- "Good Morning America" co-anchor Lara Spencer has since apologized after sudden backlash against her, for seemingly mocking the idea of a boy taking interest in ballet and dance.

But it’s started a conversation across the country.

It's not a new stereotype by any stretch and a filmmaker is currently working on a documentary that explores the very idea. It’s called “Why Dance,” and the man behind the film is Zac Gates, who grew up in Kansas City.

“I dreamed of being on stage, but my parents refused to let me take dance classes,” Gates said in a telephone interview.

The film follows the lives of seven boys in different stages of their dance career. The premise is to give future male dancers and their parents an idea of the challenges they’ll face in a female-dominated art form.

“The documentary is intended to be a resource tool, to prepare them for what to expect -- from bullying, strengthening, competitions -- and how to solve problems,” Gates explained.

Drake Taylor is one of the boys featured in the film. The 16-year-old has been dancing since he was just three.

“I needed dance from the beginning,” Drake said. “Dance for me is like a form of communication. I love to really connect with people and tell different stories.”

The teen said there’s often a stigma attached to guys who dance. The misconception is that somehow, it’s not normal or that it’s only for girls. He disagrees.

“There’s muscle building, flexibility, balance. You’ve got to work on your stamina,” Drake explained. “There’s just so many things that people don’t think about. It’s something for everybody.”

Drake said he hasn’t dealt with a ton of bully behavior, but he knows it’s all too common for his male peers.

“It can be hard at first, but you just have to reassure yourself that you love what you’re doing, and other people just don’t understand it,” he said.

Drake has been fortunate to have the love and support of his parents. His mom, Cathy Jolly, said children should have opportunities to do what they love because it builds confidence.

“I couldn’t imagine not supporting him,” Jolly said. “He loves it and I love him, and what he wants to do I want to help him achieve that.”

One thing Drake is certain of is that he will dance for the rest of his life.

“My life without dance would not be as great as it is today,” he said.

Drake and his mom believe exposing young people to the arts allows them to see the world from different perspectives.

“Why Dance” is expected to be released in early January.

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