Classical music fills a bright studio filled with dancers. An instructor calls out “sus-sous…plié,” and a group of graceful students practice their ballet steps.
However, this ballet class is a little different from most. It’s a class entirely made of boys and young men.
Mick and Nancy Gunter started Centralia Ballet Academy about 10 years ago in a small space about six blocks from their current location in downtown Centralia.
The school offers tap, jazz, musical theater instruction – and the guys’ ballet class.
“When I was a kid I wanted to do dance, but the opportunity never came up. And so, I wanted to do a class the way I would’ve wanted it when I was their age,” Mick said.
The boys-only class has been a part of the school since the first year.
“We started the first year with five [male students] and then just each year it just kept on doubling, like gremlins or something,” Mick said.
Now there are about 50 guys in the program. And they're a diverse group of young men too; some are musical theater kids, others go hunting and fishing with their dads when they're not dancing.
“I guess I’m lucky to have grown up in a class with other guys and learn it with my friends,” said dancer Joaxquyn Ruyz.
Mick said he wants them to learn to be respectful of fellow dancers and to grow in self-confidence as they learn the classical art form.
“I just want them to be good young men.”