Male dancers teach Lara Spencer a ballet lesson after her Prince George joke
“Good Morning America” anchor Lara Spencer apologized again Monday for a nationally televised joke she made last week about Britain’s Prince George and ballet.
Spencer had been discussing the little royal’s school schedule on the show Thursday when she made the crack about George appearing to love his ballet class, noting that he was studying dance, religious studies and poetry as well, in addition to his core classes.
In line with Spencer’s tone when she mentioned ballet, and in keeping with smiling pictures of George that were being shown on screen, she, the other anchors and the audience cracked up laughing.
“Oh, he looks so happy about the ballet class,” she said as the pictures scrolled by again, noting that Prince Williams says his son “absolutely loves” ballet.
“I have news for you, Prince William: We’ll see how long that lasts,” she said. “I mean, he might.”
“GMA” host jokes about Prince George loving his ballet class.
Monday brought an on-air apology for the joke.
“It has been a true education for me, and an opportunity, I hope,” Spencer said, explaining that she’d sat down over the weekend with members of the male dance community and listened to stories about being bullied as they tried to pursue ballet.
She then thanked “Cats” actor-dancer Robbie Fairchild, “So You Think You Can Dance” choreographer Travis Wall and Chicago’s Joffrey Ballet principal Fabrice Calmels for sitting down with her on the show to discuss their journeys.
“I wish people would be open-minded and understand what others are doing. More empathy would be lovely,” Calmels said. “I teach young kids and boys. They just drop because of the social stigma around the form. Children should be entitled to experience things without being bullied.”
Spencer had reacted more quickly via social media, posting an apology Friday on Instagram in response to the negative reaction on various platforms.
“My sincere apologies for an insensitive comment I made in pop news 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,” Spencer said Friday on Instagram.
In Spencer’s case, the reaction had been more than typical online “cancel culture.” Renowned choreographer-dancer Debbie Allen had posted a video on social media addressing Spencer directly.
“Darling, you’re not on ‘Saturday Night Live,’” Allen said, in part. “You are a respected media journalist and we expect to get our news, information and ideas from you. So poking fun at the dance world and ballet and young boys, this is not cool.”
“I wore tights at work for 16 years and I loved every minute of it. Flying through the air to live orchestra playing some of the finest music ever written has to be one of the most glorious experiences life has to offer,” Benjamin Millepied, the French dancer and choreographer who is married to actress Natalie Portman, wrote on Instagram.
“Balanchine often compared dancers to angels,” Millepied continued, “and as my career as a ballet dancer is now ten years behind I must admit the sensations I had performing the steps of Balanchine & Robbins, receiving the emotional generosity from fellow dancers in front of sometimes thousands of people, was an experience utterly other worldly and magnificent. #boysdancetoo.”
Also chiming in on the discussion was Patricia Ward Kelly, widow of legendary “Singin’ in the Rain” star Gene Kelly, who had worked throughout his career to present dancers as athletes and encourage athletes to study dance.
“Gene would be devastated to know that 61 years after his ground-breaking work the issue of boys and men dancing is still the subject of ridicule—and on a national network,” she wrote in an open letter on her Facebook page. “ABC must do better.”
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