At just 18-months-old, Danielle Schaffer noticed her son Brody’s reaction to music was that of a natural feeling. Brody is the youngest of Schaffer’s four children, so by the time he was born, he was almost immediately memorized with his older sister Dylan and her passion for dance. As soon as he learned to walk, you could find Brody dancing by his sister's side. Now, at 4-years-old, Brody and his sister share a strong bond and still dance together every night. With his love of dance also comes a love of music and costumes, which some may say is not a conventional way for a toddler boy to spend his time, but Schaffer fully encourages Brody’s freedom of expression and shares his joy through Brody’s dance videos on his popular Instagram handle @bossbabybrody.
Brody is now being called “Baby Fosse,” and receiving all kinds of national attention for his natural talent and overall infectious attitude. In a time where #boysdancetoo has been such a powerful movement, Brody is a pure example of the true meaning of dance. Recently, Dance Network was able to speak to Brody’s mom, Danielle, about the importance of encouraging her children’s creative expression through the arts and about Brody's newfound Instagram stardom.
DS: Brody has music running through his soul. I noticed really early, at about 18 months, that the way he moved was different than my other kids’ reaction to music. All of my children go to bed with classical music on and I am not sure if that helped, but, honestly, he is the epitome of the word “natural.” You can’t teach how he moves and feels; it’s just in him.
DN: Is Brody enrolled in formal dance training yet? What genre of dance seems to be his favorite?
DS: Brody has been going to a preschool dance class since September and now we will be moving towards private lessons. His passion is in ballet and lyrical. I would love to expose him to musical theater and possibly an instrument too.
DN: Describe your connection to dance as a child and how you passed that on to your children.
DS: I have always been a music fanatic. I have something playing 24 hours a day and love it. When I was a child, I went to dance three days a week at a studio in Brooklyn. I remember having several solos as a youngin’ but had to stop going because of the cost. I definitely loved it though.
DN: Brody has already received recognition from famous dancers and celebrities for the routines you post of him on social media. How has that affected your life?
DS: I feel that it just confirmed what I have been feeling as his mother- that he truly is gifted with a natural expression and a natural passion for dance. He moves like he’s been dancing forever, and he is only 4 years old. I love that he was featured on Good Morning America, and Oprah called him “the next big thing.” I am just happy for my little guy and he certainly doesn’t have a clue.
DN: I really admire the way you encourage Brody to freely express himself, but the Internet can be a toxic place at times. How have you dealt with any negativity sent to you about Brody's videos?
DS: I would say 99.9 percent of folks are smitten with our child. They commend our parenting and love how we let him explore and be who he wants to be. The small amount of negative comments I get don’t affect me too much, however, I say to myself, “What would Brody’s life be like if this person was his mom?” She would never let him dance or play in costumes and for that I cry. I cry for the kids that are being repressed from artistic expression and being themselves. Clipping a child’s wings is just so sad.
DN: Do you have any advice for parents who are hesitant to let their children freely express themselves?
DS: Ask yourself, “What makes your child happy? How can we let them soar?” I would say be the bridge to helping them get to where they need to be instead of the road map dictating which direction to go. If they are happy and kind that’s all that matters.
To see more of Brody's dance videos, follow him on Instagram at @bossbabybrody . Believe me- these videos will keep a smile on your face 24/7! His mother, Danielle (@citygirlgonemom), also keeps a more in depth account of their family life on her website citygirlgonemom.com.