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Dealing with Mothers of Dancing Girls


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#31 HuckleberryDawg

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Posted 10 August 2011 - 10:25 PM

I can see that being at a studio with all of you guys would be great! :-)

At DS's studio, the girls moms have been absolutely lovely and I've never gotten a whiff of any bitterness (if there is any they certainly keep it to themselves). I truly think the only thing we really notice is that the girls will invite all of the girls in their ballet class to a birthday party or something and, because it's going to be a girly party I presume, do not invite DS. He sees it going on; but I think he sort of understands why. He gets a little hurt; but not enough to drag him down. I really can't complain about the attitude there and the number of boys at the school has been creeping up, which is nice.

The thing that always kills me is when DS gets something (like a small solo in the recital that worked out that way only because of the theme of the recital, etc) and I find myself cringing and thinking "Oh, please, please, please, don't everyone think I somehow believe he deserves that..." I find myself almost wanting to go around and let the other moms know that I do realize he isn't a super special snowflake or anything like that. Obviously I restrain myself because I like to hide how insane I actually am; but I still fight the urge! :-) It's just that if I were a girl mom, that would annoy the heck out of me, especially since DS absolutely loves ballet but isn't at all talented. It shows. So I guess I ask the question because I wonder if I am ever "that mom" who would engender bitterness and not realize it. I try to be very humble when other moms compliment his dancing; but really the humility comes because I know he isn't good, only that as the only boy sometimes he is the one that draws people's eyes.

I'm rambling now; but an example would be Nutcracker. The girls who are at DS's level in ballet are getting cherub roles. And mayyyybe they'll be a mouse the next year. All the girls want to be in the party scene when they're younger and, of course, DS goes right to the party scene without even trying. I can't run around and say "But your daughters will actually dance! And see progression over the years! And DS will be Boy At Party for *years* now, never actually doing more than running around on stage with the other Boys At Party!!" But you know you can't really complain about that (and really, I'm totally okay with it... my point is only that what looks like a great deal from one side isn't always that great of a deal).

But I guess the only thing you can really do is, by word and action where appropriate, let people know that you realize your kid is really just another kid making their path in ballet.

#32 Clara 76

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Posted 11 August 2011 - 12:49 AM

Hear, hear!! *Clara lifts her glass* "To Huckleberrydawg!!!"

Actually, it's such a relief to have you voice what is actually going on inside all of our parental brains!!!!! :thumbsup: We understand how you feel!!!

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#33 Dance_dad

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Posted 11 August 2011 - 11:50 AM

HuckleberryDawg

We went through the period when DS was not invited to the out-of-studio events with his in studio peers. Sometimes he felt a little down or excluded. The most trying time for him was when one of the instructors insisted on addressing the class as “girls” when providing instruction. I don't believe it was intentional, but only out of habit of having classes comprised solely of young girls.

I spent enough time in the studio to get to know some of the parents, (both mothers and fathers). Some were trying to relive their own childhood dance experience through their daughters while the others were supportive of their children’s choices just as they would be with youth soccer or any other activity.

Hopefully your DS will stick with his training in ballet. Boys mature at a much slower rate and he will likely continue to lag behind the girls in ability until he catches up with his maturity. The physical exercise will do great things for his body and self-confidence.

My 14 year old DS is finishing his first 5 week summer intensive as a full time boarding student. As far as I can tell he is having the time of his life and is fully integrated in all aspects of the program.

#34 Alan

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Posted 15 August 2011 - 03:53 PM

The t-shirt issue is funny. My son attended SAB's SI this summer, the shirt was light blue (not bad) but they did not have one in his size (he is 6'3"). Even with over 50 boys he got left out, oh well.

#35 finallykf

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Posted 17 August 2011 - 03:10 PM

I am so thankful for my son's studio and can only think that if someone is getting "attitude" from dancer parents about having their son in ballet you might be in the wrong kind of studio. At my son's studio ALL the parents are THRILLED when a new boy enrolls regardless of how old the boy is, 5 or 15! After all, the girls are going to need to be partnered by someone, right?? Everyone is thrilled when we actually have boys playing the boy roles in productions instead of having some of the girls have to pretend to be boys. The girls are extremely patient and supportive of the boys while they are learning and coming up to speed - they make a point to compliment the boys when then have improved. The boys are included in everything by the girls - the boys and girls in each level are all best friends. Even though we don't have many boys our Artistic Director makes sure to have either unisex t-shirts for productions and camps or a version that boys would feel more comfortable wearing.

Our Artistic Director is extremely strict about making sure that the kids do not become cliquish or competitive with each other. For that reason, the parents can't be cliquish or competitive either. I think that made it really easy for me as the parent of a boy to jump right in and volunteer for things as soon as we moved to his current studio so I could get to know the other parents. Since we have very few boys at the studio, my very best friends are all mothers of girl dancers - for the most part we have exactly the same kinds of experiences and support each other through all of them. But they are also the first ones to give to me advice or support when my son is dealing with a boy dancer issue and I know they also love my son for the unique qualities he brings to the studio as a boy dancer.

#36 MamagirlSC

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 10:55 AM

I have a situation that has bits of what everyone else posted. My DS has been in ballet since age 4 & he now is 11. He is as good as & even better than most girls in his class--he's the only boy & always has been. He has never gotten a scholarship or cheaper tuition, but he almost always has a solo in performances. I don't hang out in the studio. I'm usually out on errands or in my car in the parking lot. DS has noticed in the last year that he has gotten a lot of resentment & aggressive attitudes from some of the girls--& I've noticed a little tension from the moms towards me--& that maybe because they don't really know me, etc., because I'm not hanging around that much. This has really begun to bother DS a great deal & he seems to complain about the girls all the time after class. I usually just tell him to ignore them and focus on the instruction & I really feel like that is what he is trying to do. I feel bad for him, but there is nothing I can do. He loves his teachers & has one that is male. I feel frustrated, but not sure how to handle the situation. I'm so happy to find this forum. I have felt like we are out in the wilderness where we are.

#37 Clara 76

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 12:28 PM

Oh, yes.... the lovely "Middle-School" ages.......... :dizzy: :wallbash:

Girls, and their mothers, can be quite a force during this time period, and since I'm not a psychiatrist, I cannot explain the phenomenon. What I can say is that he should not be suffering from any abusive behavior on their part, and if they are crossing the line to where he feels threatened, a conversation with the teacher/s is in order.

Bullies are good at hiding their naughtiness- they know good and darn well what they are doing is wrong. Making a teacher/staff member aware of it can help to stop some of it.

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"Christian Louboutins are uncomfortable, but I screamed the first time I put on a pointe shoe." Mila Kunis


#38 ballet valet

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 09:40 PM

My DD has always treated the younger boys at the studio as the little brother she never had. I think she truly loves them! On the other hand, she is often frustrated when her previous AD (who has 2 professional ballet sons) would say 'unless you get a scholarship, there is no reason to attend XYZ summer intensive'. The almost guaranteed SI ‘scholarships for male dancers’ thing is necessary but there are boys who take advantage and set a bad example at the SI. They take the scholarship for granted, show up late or skip classes, drink and party with no repercussions. They are used to being treated as special, unique, needed, catered to, etc… On the other hand, our DD’s are treated the exact opposite. They are not special, they are a dime a dozen. They are like thousands of girls around the world that want to dance. They are not given scholarships unless they are the top 1% in skill level or have financial need. Obviously, this is not the boy’s doing but it is understandable when a male student is a so-so dancer and is given amazing opportunities for solos, summer intensives and other studio benefits, there is going to be a bit of frustration (vented in inappropriate ways) that the female dancers and parents feel. The frustration is definitely with the system more than the male dancer. I do realize it seems necessary to keep these boys dancing by offering scholarships, solos and reduced tuition but my impression is that the dedicated male dancers will find a way to make their dream a reality, regardless. I can’t imagine them declining these perks on the principal of it. Who would? We all would like a little ‘free’ in these expensive times. I guess ultimately, I would like to see the ballet world become a little more selective in the perks it offers the boys so that they are rewarding the male dancers who are truly committed and are in it for the long haul.

#39 Clara 76

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 12:28 AM

Kristine, are you parent of a male dancer? If not, please post here that you have read this, and copy and paste your post to a new thread on a forum like Parents of Dancers etc. since this forum is only open to parents of male dancers. I want you to have the opportunity to have this discussion, but we have to have it elsewhere if you are not the parent of a male dancer.

Thank you for understanding. After you have posted that you have been able to copy your post, I will delete it.

"A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor"- (Currently poking Poseidon in the netherworld with his trident)

"Christian Louboutins are uncomfortable, but I screamed the first time I put on a pointe shoe." Mila Kunis


#40 MamagirlSC

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 07:58 AM

Clara 76: I was thinking it was maybe the age group right now because the girls have never had an issue with my DS before--actually the girls are kind of hot & cold with him--that's a more accurate description. I hope it works itself out because they spend a lot of time with each other.

Kristine: Thanks for the perspective on how the girls feel & I suppose, the moms as well. I wasn't really speaking of the older girls--they are all really nice to my son. I was referring to the girls his own age. In my case--my son is a pretty good dancer & doesn't feel entitled to anything & has never been made to feel that way by his teachers. This is the first year his age group has ever had to audition & that was for The Nutcracker. I will say that he didn't audition for the role of Fritz (I think this is when the girls started getting the attitudes)--it was automatically given to him. The dance school has been open for 25 years & it was the first time they ever had a male Fritz. His teacher could have given him the role a few years ago, but she waited until he reached the appropriate level. I do believe, however, that if he had been a "so-so" dancer--there would have been auditions. DS really loves to dance & wants harmony in his class, but he isn't going to turn down good opportunities--I don't think any dancer would--male or female. I know nothing about SIs & scholarships. This is our first rodeo--as DS is only 11.

Thanks to both of you for the insight--it is extremely helpful.

#41 ballet valet

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 10:47 AM

Clara 76, Sorry about posting here. I thought I had double checked the forum restrictions but must not have. No need to move this. Just the ramplings of a too involved ballet mom. Thanks.

#42 cheetah

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 12:35 PM

"I can’t imagine them declining these perks on the principal of it. Who would?"

My DS actually declined a scholarship at his first studio - with our support - because he didn't feel it was right to automatically be granted a scholarship because he was a boy :) Even though we certainly could've benefited from the assistance! There are many that take this route. And there are a lot more boys in ballet than in the past, so the special treatment is nowhere near as common as many think - not anymore!

As for your DS' current experience Mamagirl - I also would first question if this is an "age" thing. I have three sons. My DS is the oldest. They have all had similar experiences with girls in general around this time. (Actually my youngest one dealt with it last year in swim class and finally quit swimming because of it.) It didn't get better until high school, though there were peaks and valleys. There were certainly some frustrations expressed by the girls and their moms around this time, but in retrospect we think it was because my DS was incredibly flexible, much more so than the other girls, and overall better in class. But that was temporary and a result of the girls going through growth spurts earlier than him. By the time he was 14 and struggling with the same things (growth, decrease in flexbility, instability, etc.) the girls had grown through their awkwardness and they were all, as a class, more on an even field technically.

Ironically, the girls at DS' studio were happy when they finally had boys and they didn't have to be party boys - not even Fritz. But they also had plenty of other rolls to fill, such as mice and soldiers and angels, even at that age. Then a lot more rolls to look forward to when they are older!

As for the moms, it's hard to know if their distance and frustration is a reflection of you and/or your son or something else that might be going on. We certainly had our share of run ins with moms who thought the boys had an easier road. My recommendation is to walk away and not take it personally. You will find - if you haven't already - that a male dancer and his parents face totally different challenges and life is not as easy as those moms might seem!

#43 finallykf

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Posted 12 January 2012 - 04:52 PM

I honestly think it is a studio thing. My son started out at a studio where the girls where NOT nice to my son at all and the mothers at first acted thrilled to have a boy in the program - until they discovered that he was good, then they suddenly became icy toward both me and my son. So we moved studios (for other reasons as well).

We are now at a studio where our AD is extremely strict about the students being kind to one another and being supportive of one another. If she hears of one student being unfriendly toward another or senses tension in class she will immediately call the offending student out on it. Subsequently the kids at our studio are all best friends and any new students figure out very quickly that being unkind doesn't work at our studio or they leave and go somewhere else.

I have never understood girls being competetive or jealous of boy ballet dancers, they will never be competing for the same part so there is no reason to be competitive or jealous. Our studio offers a discount for boy dancers which we declined once my son became serious about dance - we felt it was more important for our studio to be able to offer that money to a boy who might not normally try ballet unless he receives a scholarship or for a boy who needed some financial help. As far as SIs we are in the same positions as the parents of female ballet dancers. We try to do what we can to get our son to the SIs he wants to attend but sometimes we would have to rely on scholarships. They are not automatically given to all boys - even to boys who are good dancers (especially the more popular, well-respected SIs). So if our son doesn't get a scholarship to the SI he wants to go to this year he won't be able to go because last year he didn't get a scholarship and we had to pay for two weeks in NYC - we can't afford two expensive SI's two summers in a row. I do hate it when parents at SI auditions make comments about being lucky that we have a boy because we already know he will be accepted on full scholarship. That is SO NOT the case!!

I don't quite understand not having a boy audition for Nutcracker just like the girls though. If for no other reason than it's good experience. Especially if the girls who have been cast as Fritz in the past had to audition I can understand why some people might not think that is fair. My son has been Fritz for the past two years - he's the only serious boy dancer his age at his studio and everyone knew he would be Fritz but he was still required to audition just like everyone else. As a side note, one of our Clara's was reprising her role as Clara for the second time this year (we have an experienced Clara for most shows and then a new Clara who is being "broken in" for next year at a few shows) so everyone obviously already knew she was going to be Clara again but even she was required to audition again.

#44 MamagirlSC

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Posted 13 January 2012 - 07:58 AM

cheetah~I'm hoping it's the age thing. My son told me that a few of the girls have not come back after holiday break. Maybe it's just a frustration period--deciding if they want to devote so much time, etc. when they are pulled in other directions. DS said it has been okay except that one girl has sighed every time the teacher made a comment to him--even if it's a correction, but she acts like his best friend at school. I will add that the girls sometimes aren't getting along with each other as well.

finallykf~I don't get the jealousy thing about boy dancers either. I thought my son would totally be exempt from that because of what you mentioned--they really aren't going to be up for the same roles. I was a little uncomfortable with the fact that my son wasn't required to audition for Fritz. The AD did hold a Nutcracker workshop in the summer & 3 weeks before auditions the AD let everyone know that my son would be the only Fritz. I was very happy for him, but at the same time worried about how the parents/girls would react. The school has a great reputation and the AD & teachers are beloved by all--so I am confident that they handled any problems appropriately. It seems like there was more strife about the role of Marie & who did & didn't get it.