US TV host apologises for mocking Prince George’s love of ballet after protest led by male Cher dancers
Good Morning America host Lara Spencer apologised after laughing at Prince George for taking ballet lessons, a move which sparked a fierce backlash from the dance and LGBT+ communities and a mass protest led by the Broadway cast of The Cher Show.
Spencer found herself at the centre of a backlash after she mocked Prince George’s love of ballet during Good Morning America (GMA), on Friday, August 23.
“Prince William says George absolutely loves ballet,” Spencer said, chuckling.
“I have news for you Prince William, we’ll see how long that lasts.”
Spencer’s co-host, George Stephanopoulos, was also heard laughing loudly.
Immediately after the remarks aired, members of the dance community, LGBT+ people and their allies criticised the presenter for leaning on a tired gender stereotype.
Dancer, choreographer and star of the Fame TV series Debbie Allen directly addressed Spencer in a Twitter video, saying: “You’re a respected media journalist… so poking fun at the dance world of ballet and young boys is just not cool.”
— Debbie Allen (@msdebbieallen) August 23, 2019
British casting director Jo Hawes said that she finds it “hard enough to cast boys without having people like Lara Spencer making ill advised and ignorant comments”.
“This promotes bullying and [makes] boys who want to dance [do] something else,” she added.
Rosie O’Donnell shared her own video, saying: “Seriously? Laughing at boys who take ballet? It’s like bullying on national TV. Boys who take ballet are cool.”
— ROSIE (@Rosie) August 23, 2019
Over the weekend Spencer posted an apology on Instagram, writing: “My sincere apologies for an insensitive comment I made yesterday.
“From ballet to anything one wants to explore in life, I say go for it.
“I fully believe we should all be free to pursue our passions. Go climb your mountain – and love every minute of it.”
On Monday morning, a mob of 300 male dancers staged a protest outside of the GMA studios in New York’s Time Square, carrying “Ballet For All” and “Boys Dance Too” placards.
In response to @LaraSpencer’s harmful mocking of a young boys (in this case, Prince George) who enjoy taking ballet classes, a group of professional male dancers led a class for boys and girls outside the @GMA studio this morning — a lovely sight to wake up to #BoysDanceToo pic.twitter.com/uqh7qLhNI8
— Jarett Wieselman (@JarettSays) August 26, 2019
Led by the cast of the recently-shuttered Broadway musical The Cher Show, the dancers taught a ballet lesson to young children.
Robbie Fairchild, star of the upcoming Cats movie and one of the dancers who led the lesson, reflected on the protest in an emotional Instagram post.
“I believe we steered this painful moment into a great conversation celebrating dance and defending boys who are bullied for doing it,” he said.
“We, the dance community, are a community of love and compassion. And my hope is that we move forward together in order to lead in unity and love, especially in our current social climate where there is so much division.”
While the lesson took place, Spencer apologised live on air for her comments.
— Erica Dorfler (@ericadorfler) August 26, 2019
She admitted that she “screwed up” with her “stupid and insensitive” comments and apologised to the young Prince, who is third in line to the throne.
“I have learned about the bravery that it takes for a young boy to pursue a career in dance,” she said.
Spencer then introduced a pre-recorded conversation with Fairchild and two other celebrated male ballet dancers: Joffrey Ballet lead Fabrice Calmels and So You Think You Can Dance choreographer Travis Wall.
The trio spoke about their experiences with bullying and urged young boys with an interest in dance to pursue their dreams.
“I teach young kids and boys just drop [out of lessons] because of the social stigma around the form,” said Calmels.
“Children should be entitled to experience things without being bullied.”
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“I want more boys to dance, we make such beautiful art and we create such beautiful moments in this world,” added Wall.
Fairchild said that during their conversation, Spencer “was heartfelt, teary and incredibly remorseful”.
“She owned up and apologised for her remarks and I forgive her and thank her for doing all she could to right her wrong,” he wrote on Instagram.