Breaking boundaries: Life as a male dancer

Louie+Conn%2C+Pleasant+Valley+Platinum%E2%80%99s+first+male+dancer+is+enjoying+his+last+year+on+the+school%27s+dance+team%2C+but+says+his+dancing+journey+is+far+from+over.

Laura Mullen

Louie Conn, Pleasant Valley Platinum’s first male dancer is enjoying his last year on the school’s dance team, but says his dancing journey is far from over.

Kelly Brewer, Social Media Manager

Graceful, an adjective often associated with women, might be the perfect word to describe dancers when they are in their element.

But one Pleasant Valley senior is breaking both boundaries and stereotypes by being the first male dancer on the school’s Platinum dance team.

Louie Conn started his dance career at age 8 after his mother put him into dance classes when watching how much he danced around the house. He started recreational classes at Kim’s School of Dance and Tumbling. The more he learned, the more he fell in love with the sport. He joined his first competition dance team at age 11. 

Starting out, he only danced for a couple hours a week. Currently, in between dancing at his new studio, Above the Barre Dance Academy, and being a varsity Platinum member, Conn dances anywhere from 10 to 40 hours a week. 

Conn’s unique talent made school history when it landed him a spot on the Platinum dance team, which he repeated every year of high school–once on junior varsity and twice on varsity. 

The start of his dance team journey, however, was not easy.

When Conn made the Platinum team during his freshman year, his dream was finally coming true. But soon, regret settled in when other students made fun of him of him for being a male in a “girl’s sport.” Conn recalls students calling him crude names, such as “gay boy,” “queer” and “fa**ot.” 

Conn struggled with choosing what he wanted to do after listening to his peers’ opinions. “I ended up quitting Platinum because I couldn’t handle the things that people were saying to me,” Conn expressed. Quitting one of his biggest dreams was one of the hardest things he said he has done.

Conn chose to keep competing and gained more confidence with his dance abilities and more support from fellow dancers. Conn regretted quitting the team once he saw all that he had missed. His dance friends grew closer on a team without him and got more dance training. He finally gained the courage to listen to his heart and try-out again for the team during his sophomore year. 

Making the team again changed his life and has provided him more than just dance training. “I have met my best friends through dance,” Conn said. These people have encouraged him to keep dancing and doing what he loves, regardless of other people’s opinions. “His team supports him so much and we would not know what we would do without him, said sophomore Josie Kaffenberger. 

There is no doubt from Conn that his mother, Kathleen Conn, is his biggest supporter. “To say that I have been proud to watch him on Platinum for the past three years is an understatement. To go for something you love, no matter what others think or say, is a quality few people possess,” she boasted.

The support Conn has received from friends and family has led him to many achievements. He has won many awards on his own, but that is not what he is most proud of. “The thing that really makes me happy is when my team wins. Winning state with Platinum was the best thing that I have experienced in my life,” he said.

Conn’s dance journey will not be ending anytime soon and he has big dreams for the future. “For as long as I can remember, I have looked up to the dancers on the Iowa dance team and have always wanted to be a part of it. Just the thought of me possibly being on a D1 dance team gives me chills.” 

Through all of the hardships and drama Conn has dealt with along his dance journey, he constantly reminds himself why he keeps dancing and why he will not let other people get in the way of his passion again. He hopes that his journey will inspire other male dancers to never give up on their dreams.