Leeds teen dancer speaks out during Anti-Bullying Week: “It became so bad we had to move house”
LEEDS’S own Billy Elliot has been called hurtful names, abused and beaten up just because other boys thought he should not dance. Alison Bellamy reports.
Things got so bad at one point, that his family had to move house after they were also threatened and became a target for cruel bullies, increasing as he began to win awards.
Dance champion Junior Frood, 15, from Leeds, said “I have been bullied all my life for my love of dancing. From a young age I was taunted, called names, kicked, punched and beaten up all because boys thought I shouldn’t dance. `
“They would say that dancing is for girls and that I must be gay if I was a dancer. I was picked on for my hairstyle, called a “puff” or “ballet boy” plus many more hurtful names from when I was six years old.”
Things are better now for Junior, who is in demand as a professional dancer and has performed with Justin Bieber on his World Purpose Tour and was backing dancer for Little Mix and Union J at Wembley Arena.
He is speaking out during “Anti-Bullying Week” about the abuse he has suffered, since he started dancing at the age of six.
Award-winning Junior, who has used his talent to raise more than £300,000 for charity, said:“I could never understand why people were so hurtful and why they couldn’t leave me alone to enjoy what I loved doing. Boys didn’t get picked on for doing rugby, football or other sports so why wasn’t it accepted for me to dance?”
He now wants to highlight the importance of addressing and educating people so that they understand the damage bullying can cause.
The talented teenager has been named UK Freestyle Dance Champion and has won two World Champion dance competitions, as well as being a youth ambassador and anti-bullying spokesman, giving a talk at Number 10, Downing Street, the House of Lords and in front of MPs to address the seriousness of bullying in schools.
He added: “There are many male dancers who came through on TV talent shows including Diversity, Flawless and George Sampson so why was it still not acceptable for boys to dance?
“I was always told that if I got picked on I should tell an adult or a teacher. When I did this I was told that I was exaggerating the bullying and that I needed to just learn to ignore them and “man up”.
“When you going through daily torment it is very difficult to know how to deal with constant abuse. I felt like I had nowhere to turn.
“The bullying got so bad that we had to move house to get away from the violence that was not only been subjected to me but now had also started to be directed to the rest of my family.
“Most people would probably have given up on dancing just to put a stop to it, but with me it only made me stronger and made me want to stand up to the bullies and make a difference.”
He launched his own online campaign called #BoysCanDance to address the bullying he had suffered and to support others going through the same.
With the help of his mum Kerry Frood, he has raised more than £300,000 for various Leeds and national charities by performing at events for free to boost funds.
He said: “I choreographed my own anti-bullying dance which was an emotional dance piece with a contemporary dance style. The dance showed the emotional struggles I had gone through and the pain and suffering that I had dealt with. I was lucky enough to get to perform this dance at special events and it was shown on TV and I appeared on This Morning with Holly and Phil.
Junior adds: “For anybody out there that is going through bullying no matter what it is aimed at please know that you are not alone and that help is out there. Please tell someone who will help.
“Please don’t struggle alone and let the abuse eat away at you.”
JUNIOR FROOD FACTFILE
Junior has won many awards including The Courageous Citizen Diana Award, Points of Light Award from the Prime Minister, British Citizen Award from the House of Lords, BBC Radio 1 Teen Award 2018 and most recently he was awarded the iconic Blue Peter GOLD Badge.
He is a Youth Ambassador for the Children’s Heart Surgery Fun in Leeds and often visits youngsters going through heart surgery.
Junior has danced with Justin Bieber on his World Purpose Tour, danced with X factors Rak-Su, was backing dancer for Union J and Little Mix at Wembley Arena.
He has performed on two of Sam Baileys UK Tours as support act and appeared in the Musical ‘Stepping Out’ in London’s West End with Britain’s Got talent judge Amanda Holden and the Adventures of Pinocchio, also in London’s West End.
The teenager performed in the main parade at Disneyland Paris and also at many outdoor celebrity festivals for CBBC and Cbeebies.
He joined the dance team as the only boy dancer for the Rugby league Leeds Rhinos performing for them for two seasons.
Junior trains at the famous Jelli Studios in Liverpool with well know celebrity Jennifer Ellison.
He has just returned from The Dance World Cup in Portugal, representing England and I returned a double World Champion after competing with his dance school with thanks to clothing designer ‘Gym King’ who sponsored him.
The 15-year-old says he is eternally grateful to National Express, who fund his travel across UK to rehearsals, gigs and auditions.
Junior says: "I am now looking to the future and can’t wait to leave school and start my professional dance career training at Jelli College full time and hopefully have a long career in professional dance."
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