A Kelowna Grade 12 student will be taking to the international stage in Poland this winter to represent Canada in jazz-contemporary.
Sixteen-year-old Sunny Sokolowski has been dancing for more than eight years, but it hasn’t always been easy.
Sokolowski has had to face ridicule and fend off bullies in the classroom because “dance is for girls.”
“For me, the toughest challenge is just blocking out the hate,” he said. “It’s really hard, especially when I was younger.”
“Everyone is just like, ‘you’re a dancer, that must mean you’re gay.’”
He said he was picked on because he’d rather study jazz, contemporary and ballet instead of the proper maneuvers to tackle someone on the football field.
Sokolowski first started dancing because he had so much energy and “couldn’t stop moving as a kid.” And he fell in love with the stage and the spotlight.
“I didn’t see dance as any gender,” he said, in hindsight. “I didn’t know what I was getting into.”
“Then I started seeing this idea that dance is for girls and football is for guys and it’s difficult because I did play football and baseball prior to joining dance,” he said. ”I could have been a stereotypical guy, but I wanted to be different.”
Sokolowski said it was hard to maintain a sunny disposition in elementary and middle school where the teasing intensified, but now that he is in his senior year at Kelowna Secondary School, it’s gotten a bit easier.
It doesn’t hurt that he is also dancing for Team Canada—one of the most prestigious dance teams in the country.
“Now that I’m in high school, I think I’ve earned some of the guys’ respect,” he said.
His two teammates from the Okanagan, Savannah Goncalves and Kathryn McKay, will join Sokolowski will take to the international stage near Warsaw, Poland, in December 2019.